Most students living either in university or college accommodation or in private accommodation are mindful of their neighbours.
However, institutions will occasionally receive complaints from local residents or other students regarding noise and anti-social behaviour. The noise can amount to a nuisance and institutions should be aware of the action that can be taken to deal with the problem, whether the students are living in student accommodation or in private accommodation.
Students living in university or college accommodation will usually sign up to Conditions of Residence and/or an Accommodation Agreement when enrolling or moving into their accommodation. These documents usually contain provisions providing that a student may be disciplined for causing noise nuisance and have more serious sanctions for persistent breaches. In the most serious circumstances, breaches can result in students being removed from their accommodation via court action and in some cases also being reported to a disciplinary committee, which could lead to their exclusion from their course of study.
If the students live in private student accommodation, they could still be caught by the institution’s disciplinary regulations as many institutions stipulate that such behaviour could be considered as a breach of the Code of Conduct and so the student could again be subject to a disciplinary investigation.
In extreme scenarios, neighbours of students can instigate their own proceedings against a student for excessive noise by reporting the matter to the local council. The council will investigate complaints about noise when it is categorised as a statutory noise nuisance.
For the noise to amount to a ‘statutory nuisance’, there must be one of the following:
1. The noise unreasonably and substantially interferes with the use or enjoyment of a property
2. The matter is injurious, or likely to cause injury
Councils must first serve an abatement notice on persons who cause a statutory nuisance. This means that the students responsible must stop the noise, failing which this could result in a prosecution as a criminal offence against the student summarily in the magistrates’ court.
Complaints to councils are on the rise, forcing them to serve abatement notices on students in the more severe cases. Such action may impact on the institution’s reputation, and as such institutions should take note of reports of noise nuisance and warn students of the consequences of their behaviour before matters escalate.