Guide to community living
Introducing yourself to your neighbours 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. 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.
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 student support services in place to help 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.
Please don’t hold large gatherings (or house parties) in your property, and do your best not to disturb those living around you. Everyone is entitled to socialise in their own home, but not at the expense of others.
Houses in residential areas are not suitable for large, late, loud gatherings and local residents have been subjected to sleepless nights because of parties and excessive noise from students across the area. The students causing this disturbance have broken the law, their tenancy agreements and breached several of the University’s disciplinary codes, which can have a negative effect on their future prospects.
Your neighbours, many of whom have young school children, or an early start for work the next day, should not be expected to tolerate this level of disturbance. Be respectful of your neighbours and understanding of their right to a peaceful home environment. Let them know if you are planning to have a couple of friends over, but for anything more you should move the party to a venue in town. Notifying your neighbours you’re having a couple of guests over does not justify keeping them awake, and always respond politely to requests by neighbours to keep people inside or turn the music down.
Remember – you are an ambassador for the University, and you are expected to behave as considerate and conscientious members of the Bristol community. The University’s local rules and regulations for student behaviour in the community apply to you on and off campus, and disciplinary action may be taken in the case of excessive noise that causes a disturbance to other residents at any time of day or night. Furthermore, under the University’s disciplinary regulations you are responsible for your guest’s behaviour, inside and outside the house.
Parties with multiple guests can easily get out of hand and result in unwanted visitors, urine, vomit and litter in the street, and damage to cars and properties. Going out for the night is a better idea, but don't be tempted to blast the music when you get back home!
Holding a large gathering or house party that disturbs your neighbours and incurs complaints could mean you will be:
- Fined up to £250 per housemate.
- Required to attend and pay for an anti-social behaviour impact awareness session.
- Required to write a letter of apology to your neighbours.
- Reported to your Head of School.
In the case of serious or repeated misconduct, penalties may include exclusion, suspension or expulsion from the University.
Your gathering is likely to be unacceptable to your neighbours if you are considering any of the following:
- Exceeding the total number of individuals permitted in the property, as stated in your tenancy agreement.
- Hiring a DJ or professional sound equipment.
- Hiring door staff.
- Soundproofing the walls and windows (this could also create a fire hazard).
Waste and recycling
As much as 70% of your household waste can be recycled every week using the Council's recycling services. Visit the Bristol City Council website for information on your collection day and what goes in each box. Overflowing waste attracts vermin, can cause a hazard and upsets neighbours. Your bins/boxes should only be on the pavement on collection day. Visit Bristol Waste Company's Student Info page for advice. 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.
Local rules and regulations
The University has local rules and regulations for student behaviour in the community.
There is a lot to think about when you first start living independently. This checklist (PDF, 164kB) will help.
Move On > Move In
Getting ready to move on to private rented accommodation?
The Move On Move In (PDF, 2,556kB) campaign leaflet provides some good advice to get you started and help you stay safe. You can also take a look at our 5 Top Tips for stress free living in the community (PDF, 117kB).
Love Where You Live
Living in private rented accommodation for the first time?
The Love Where You Live (PDF, 2,133kB) campaign leaflet contains information to help you settle in, be a great neighbour and make the most of living in the local community.
Be a part of your community
You can join your local residents association to find out what you can do to protect yourself from burglaries. The Avon and Somerset police website has more information about crime prevention.