Uh-oh! Something's happened and your neighbours are on the warpath! Here's how to handle any complaints you might get from the people next door.
Are you in the wrong?
Sometimes, the goings-on in your house might warrant a complaint. A prime example of this could be that there was excessive noise one night - that party went on too long. The best way to tackle this kind of thing is by personally apologising to your neighbours – a face-to-face apology is always better than in writing or through a third party.
In order to avoid a noise complaint in future, why not consider talking to your neighbours before you have a party? If you advise them that it’s going to happen, you can get them on side and find out about any potential spanners-in-works such as an early start for work. Give them a contact number so they can call you if it gets too late or too loud, rather than hammering on the door. If you're reasonable to them, they're more likely to be reasonable to you.
There is no noise curfew
Contrary to popular belief, in many places there's no such thing as a noise curfew. That means it's fair enough for neighbours to complain about excessive noise at any time. Laws regarding noise are dealt with at a local level and are different around Britain. The best policy is to keep the noise down in order to keep your neighbours sweet.
Dealing with a complaint
If your neighbours have decided to complain, they're likely to do so by either coming round for a 'chat' or by writing to you or your landlord.
The best way to respond is openly and with a positive attitude – sometimes your neighbours might be quite irate, but an open and friendly response is hard to argue against.
If your neighbours are being aggressive then you're quite within your rights to terminate the conversation. You should respectfully do this by saying that you're willing to talk about it, but only in a respectful manner. Perhaps you'd like to suggest that they could come around to talk about their complaint at a later time with all your housemates there?
Similarly, if your neighbours come and knock at unsociable hours (eg. 5am – this happened to me!) then it’s fair enough to say that you'd like to carry on the conversation at a more civilised hour.
Keep a record of what was said and between who in case you need it in future.
If you've had more than one noise complaint, it might be useful to send a few housemates around to do some door knocking and apologise and hand out a contact number in case they need to contact you in future.
Sometimes your neighbours might write to you or they might have contacted your university who are writing on their behalf. Keep any letter safe for future reference.
If you've got a letter from the university, you may have already been contacted by them. It might be worth organising a meeting with the accommodation/student welfare team to explain any underlying issues with them. You should have an email or telephone number to correspond with the team.
If you've got a letter from a neighbour then you should keep a copy. Respond to them face-to-face if you can (this is always best) or by written letter if they're not in. Stay positive in your communication and keep copies in case you need to show it to your university or even the police.
Sometimes the local police community support officers (PCSOs) might be involved. If the police come around, don't freak out. They will just want a chat to make sure they're not called again. Sometimes they might want to take you to have a face-to-face chat with your neighbours to alleviate any tension.
The police aren't there to make arrests or give ASBOs, they want to work towards a positive outcome. Realistically you have to be the housemate from hell if you're given an ASBO and it will rarely get to that point.
It’s not me, it’s my housemates
This was me last year! If your housemates are being loud, there’s no way that you should have to be blamed for any complaints. It’s best to have an informal house chat about the noise and express your concerns. The best way to do this is by not naming anybody and by generalising everyone – this will mean including yourself but it avoids victimising others and works well. Trust me on that!
If it gets too much, you might want to contact your landlord about it. Your tenancy agreement will probably be fixed, therefore you won't be able to move out as easily and will be liable for the rent until your agreed end date. You might be able to transfer your tenancy to someone – you can use the TSR Find a Flatmate forum to post a listing for your spot. Try posting on social media and have a few friends share it around. If you're successful then you can move out and not have to pay the rest of the rent.
If you can't find a place or someone to move in then you might have to just put up with the situation. Just hang in there, it'll soon be over!
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