Guide to community living
Introduce yourselves to your neighbours as this sets you apart from previous tenants. Find out if they have young children who need to go to bed early or if they are elderly. Do they work? Ask about waste and recycling collections. If you are on friendly terms it will be easier for you to appreciate any concerns they may have and they will be more likely to approach you rather than the University, Police or Council if they have a problem.
Students often have no idea that they have been disturbing their neighbours until they receive complaints. Give your neighbours your contact details when you move in and ask them to let you know if they have any problems. You might like to print out and use this introductory greeting template and send to all your immediate neighbours to say hello (PDF, 151kB).
First impressions count
Relationships that start off on the wrong foot are hard to repair.
If your neighbours' first experience of you is being subjected to noise/mess/sleep deprivation they may resent you and become sensitised to the problem. They are more likely to complain repeatedly which will see you escalate through the complaints process quickly.
Introducing yourself and taking your neighbourly responsibilities seriously right from the time you move in will pay of in the long run.
This will be your home for at least the next year, so make an effort to become part of the community. Get involved in neighbourhood events or join your local residents group. Apply to the University’s Community Fund to set up your own initiative to engage with your neighbours. Look for volunteering opportunities with the Student Union to make a difference in your area. Employers really value examples of social initiative and a high percentage of students stay in Bristol after graduation so your efforts may pay dividends in the future.
Become a Community Ambassador
You can support positive community activities as a paid role by becoming a Community Ambassador (PDF, 372kB). This a varied role, working alongside the Community Liaison Officer, engaging with local residents and students in a range of settings.
Living independently means you need to take extra responsibility for your personal safety, your home and your possessions.
- Always remember to lock your doors and windows when you go out
- Register bikes and valuables so they can be identified if recovered by the police
- Keep fire exits clear and keys to locked doors accessible
- Regularly test your fire alarms
- Try not to walk home alone at night
- Let people know where you are going
- Be aware of drink spiking - don’t leave your drinks unattended
The University has services in place to support you with any difficulties you may face.
Many houses in Bristol are old with poor insulation so noise travels easily through floors and walls. A multi-occupancy household could create quite a bit more noise than a family home just because of the number of people. What may not sound loud to you may disturb your neighbours. If you are chatting or entertaining in the evening try to:
- avoid using the garden or rooms that adjoin neighbours’ bedrooms;
- position stereos, TVs and speakers away from adjoining walls and keep the volume low;
- keep doors and windows closed to help prevent noise from travelling;
- avoid shouting, slamming doors or running up and down stairs;
- make sure you and your guest arrive and leave quietly.
If you have a party, manage it so that no disturbance is caused to those living around you. Let your neighbours know if you are planning to have a few friends over but for anything more you should move the party to a venue in town. Many venues offer free or subsidised party space. Always respond politely to requests by neighbours to keep people inside or turn the music down.
Having pre-drinks and then going out for the night is a better idea but remember that when you are just going out some people will already be in bed, so try to leave the house quietly. Don't be tempted to turn the music on when you get back home either!
Even the best planned parties can get out of hand and result in unwanted guests, urine, vomit and litter in the street and damage to cars and properties. You are also responsible for your guests behaviour, inside and outside the house.
Houses in residential areas are not suitable for large, late, loud parties. Neighbours should not be expected to tolerate this level of disturbance. Fines of up to £100 per household member can be imposed for holding a party that causes unacceptable disturbance to your neighbours. Your party is likely to be unacceptable to your neighbours if you are considering any of the following:
- Hiring a DJ or professional sound equipment
- Hiring door staff
- Inviting more than three guests per housemate (this could also be a health and safety/fire hazard and breach your tenancy agreement)
- Loud past 10pm on week nights
- Loud past midnight on Friday or Saturday nights
- Soundproofing the walls and windows (this could also create a fire hazard)
- Suggesting to your neighbours that they move out for the night - even if you offer to pay for a hotel
Waste and recycling
As much as 70% of your household waste can be recycled every week using the Council's recycling services. Visit the Council website for information on your collection day and what goes in each box. Overflowing waste attracts vermin, cause a hazard and upsets neighbours. Your and bins/boxes should only be on the pavement on collection day. Don’t forget you can also donate many unwanted but reusable items to charity shops. Our top tip? Set an alert on your phone to remind you to put your bins out and also to bring them back in again.
You should not bring a car to Bristol unless it is essential; instead make use of other methods of travel. Students who do bring a car are responsible for complying with all local parking legislation including Resident Parking Schemes.
Student cars parked in the road and rarely moved all term are a source of frustration to residents who can't find a parking space near their home and need to use their cars every day.
Complaints received about misconduct are addressed in line with the disciplinary procedure which is outlined in this complaints flow chart (PDF, 9kB).
Love where you live is a website brought to you by the Bristol Student Community Partnership that welcomes new residents and students to Bristol and offers further advice on all of these issues and more.
Message from the Vice-Chancellor
At the start of the academic year a letter is sent out from both University's Vice-Chancellors and the Mayor of Bristol which welcomes students back to Bristol and outlines behavioural expectations. If you did not get one you can view it here: Welcome letter from Vice-Chancellors and Mayor (PDF, 230kB)
There is a lot to think about when you first start living independently. This checklist (PDF, 164kB) will help.