A worrying increase in the reports of noise nuisance from students
BBC News for Nottingham has today reports of ‘atrocious parties’ held by university students which have caused record numbers of complaints from local residents about noise nuisance. You can read the story here.
There is always likely to be issue arising when an area has a high number of students living in private rented accommodation within a residential area.
Very few students deliberately set out to annoy their neighbours. Problems with noise nuisance seem likely to result from a combination of alcohol and a genuine lack of thought.
Complaints to the police and the council are on the rise. If you are a student and live in a residential area then you are always likely to be at risk of a complaint if you or your household make excessive noise after 11pm.
What are the consequences of a complaint against you for excessive noise?
The position may depend on whether or not you are in a university owned accommodation or not.
Most universities publish codes of conduct that students must sign up to when enrolling. Whilst every university code will differ in some way they tend to follow the same format. There is likely to be a provision permitting a student to be disciplined for excessive noise in university owned accommodation.
The discipline procedure for excessive noise nuisance is likely to involve a report to a designated university officer. The officer will have the power to issue you with a reprimand or a fine.
Repeated and persistent breaches or other serious offences can result in you being removed from your university accommodation. You could also be reported to the university senate disciplinary committee. This would lead to a disciplinary hearing. A wide range of penalties are available for serious, persistent offences. Ultimately this can include exclusion from the university.
Private student accommodation
Even if you live off campus in private student accommodation then you could still find yourself at the sharp end of the university disciplinary regulations. Many universities stipulate within their code of conduct that behaviour off campus that damages the reputation of the university is considered an offence under the disciplinary regulations.
For example, the University of Nottingham is quoted in the BBC news article as saying that students would be disciplined if their behaviour ‘compromised the safety of others’.
Additionally, it is not only the university that can instigate proceedings against a student for excessive noise. Local Councils have the power to look into complaints about noise that could be categorised as a statutory noise nuisance.
For the noise to be a ‘statutory nuisance’, it must do one of the following:
- Unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises
- Injure health or be likely to injure health
Councils must serve an abatement noise on persons who cause a statutory nuisance. This means that whoever is responsible must stop the noise. If they do not then they can be issued with a fixed penalty notice giving them the opportunity to pay a fine of £110 within 14 days in order to avoid prosecution.
If you do not pay the notice or fail to pay it within the 14 days then you can be prosecuted. This means that you will be given a court date, and if guilty you could be fined up to £1000 and order to pay the costs of the prosecution.
Civil Injunctions for noise nuisance
Both a council and the police have the power to apply for a civil injunction in the county court against those that create excessive noise that is capable of causing nuisance or annoyance. Breach of the injunction can lead to a prison sentence.
Contact a specialist to discuss any aspect of noise nuisance
If you are a student and you have a concern about a complaint raised against you then please contact education law solicitor Clare Roberts on 0115 9599550.
Clare, and other members of our team, have experience in advising and representing students who face both university disciplinary matters or allegations that have been reported to the police.
Alternatively you can use the contact form below to seek confidential specialist advice.