My top tip to any student thinking of holding a house party is to think carefully whether you are likely to cause any offence or nuisance to those living around you- remember loud music can travel some distance and will affect more than your immediate neighbours.
I’ve heard many DIY solutions that students have tried in the past to try and prevent the noise from the DJ’s and professional sound systems being heard. No amount of cardboard or mattresses pressed against windows will prevent your neighbours from hearing exactly what is going on! Especially if your guest list extends to 100+ people who will be in and out of your property and causing a disturbance as they make their way home through the neighbourhood in the early hours. And of course, I wouldn’t have this knowledge if it wasn’t for the University receiving numerous complaints about noise and having to speak to the students involved.
Here are a few more common misconceptions about house parties that I have come across.
1. The noise has to exceed a certain decibel level for action to be taken. NOT TRUE! A sound meter isn’t even used. The University and Leeds Antisocial Behaviour Team make an assessment based on who your neighbours are and how noise is impacts on the wellbeing of your neighbours.
2. Action can only be taken over noise that happens at night. NOT TRUE! Noise is more of a problem for people after 11pm but action can be taken for noise at any time. Even at low levels if you have a neighbour that is more sensitive to noise, such as an elderly neighbour.
3. If I can hear the noise, investigators can take action. TRUE! If the noise is audible outside of your house, there is a good chance it’s loud enough to cause a problem for your neighbours. Turn the volume down!
4. Having Bouncers will limit the number of people crashing your party and prevent problems with your neighbours. NOT TRUE! Bouncers are more likely to scare off your neighbours when they call around to let you know there is a problem. Being able to speak to your neighbours direct about any issues as they arise is a far better way of dealing and resolving disputes. Disciplinary and enforcement action is a far worse consequence of making a mistake than having to apologise to the people living next door.
5. If you create excessive noise you are breaking the law. TRUE! Leeds Antisocial Behaviour Team can take enforcement action that includes the confiscation of equipment, house closure notices, fines and a criminal conviction.
6. If I let my neighbours know that I’m having a party then no action can be taken. NOT TRUE! I would always advise that you speak with your neighbours in advance of having your friends over and share your contact details. However, residential streets are no place for a party that continues past midnight and has over 30 guests at any time! Your neighbours are still likely to make a complaint if your event is too big, too loud and goes on too late.
7. Its my birthday, a one off party isn’t going to hurt anyone. NOT TRUE! If every student has a house party for their birthday then that means a lot of parties and a lot of lost sleep! Take your celebrations in to town or book a venue to hold your party.
8. Hyde Park is a student area, its okay to have house parties. NOT TRUE! Hyde Park is home to many different residents. No street is completely student only. We also receive as many complaint from students as other residents about house parties!
9. I moved into a property next to a noisy neighbour so I guess I have to put up with it. NOT TRUE! Let us know if you are experiencing a problem through our Helpline. You may not be the only person affected by the noise!
10. I can’t have my friends over at any time as my neighbours will complaint. NOT TRUE! No one is likely to object to your having your friends over if you do so in a reasonable way. Would you really like to live next door to a party animal if you had to be up for work or lectures at 9am?
For information on the University’s procedures in handling off-campus issues see my earlier Blog for details on the joint action being taken by the Council and Police to tackle noisy parties.