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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Noise complaints

Since the beginning of this new term, I have become aware of a few noise complaints that in some cases have been an ongoing problem for several months, but have not be escalated to me to deal with, leaving the people suffering with noise now feeling very frustrated. It is possible that others find themselves in the same situation, so I am writing to remind you how to complain about noise. For I understand that noise can cause a lot of stress, anger, and sleeplessness, and I want to be able to help you with noise problems effectively.

Noise that could be fixed by building maintenance

If you are being troubled by a part of the building that makes noise (e.g. a pipe, a radiator, or a squeaky door). please report it in the maintenance book at reception. In most cases, it will be fixed within two working days. If it remains a problem after two working days, then email and it will be followed up at a higher level. 

Nocturnal noise from the courtyard garden or bar

The garden closes at 23.00. Except when we have a temporary event notice for a late party (not more than 6 times a year), there should never be anyone in the garden after 23.10, and no one in the bar after 23.30. Music from the bar should not audible in anyone’s bedroom after 23.00.

If you can hear noise from the bar or garden after 23.10, please phone reception (extension 8200) immediately and ask that the Duty Senior Member attends to deal with the noise. In addition, in the morning, email so I can look into why the garden and/or bar are not being closed at the proper time, and take corrective action. Send an email like this every time it happens. 

Noisy neighbours
The most common type of noise is that caused by other people. If your neighbours are making too much noise between 23.00 and 07.00, please follow the steps below:

  1. If noise from your neighbour is a rare occurrence (i.e. once or twice a term) and if you feel able to do so, knock on your neighbour’s door and ask them to be quieter.

    a. If the problem is not resolved 10 minutes after you spoke with them, call reception on extension 8200.

    b. If anyone is ever rude to you when you ask them to be quieter, call reception immediately and ask that the Duty Senior Member attends right away.

    c. If you have to speak to your neighbour about noise more than once a month, it’s time to stop trying this approach and go straight to point 2 below.

  2. If your neighbour is often noisy, or if you don’t feel able to speak with them yourself, please phone reception on extension 8200 and report the noise.

    a. If the problem is resolved within 10 minutes, enjoy a good night’s sleep and in the morning, email so that I can keep a record of what happened and when. In your email, tell us (i) what the noise was (voices, music, banging, etc); (ii) what time it was; (iii) what action you took. Send an email like this every time you ever have to call reception about noisy neighbours.

    b. If, 10 minutes after you called reception, it is still noisy, call again and this time ask that the Duty Senior Member attends to deal with the noise. Then, also send an email to giving the information listed in 2a above.

  3. If you have to call reception more than once a week, then please contact me to arrange an appointment or come to one of my open office sessions to discuss the next steps. But be aware that it is almost impossible for me to take effective disciplinary action unless you have called reception - as per point 2 above – at least two or three times previously. 

Page 60 of the Residents’ Handbook ( gives more advice about dealing with noise in Hall.

Ear plugs

I strongly recommend ear plugs for sleeping. They do not cancel out all noise, and they do still let your alarm clock wake you up. There will always be some noise in Hall – from traffic outside, people walking home after a night out, or banging doors along your corridor – that we cannot do anything about. Ear plugs can sometimes just help stop you from being woken up by these brief episodes of noise that otherwise might ruin your night’s sleep.

Could you be disturbing your neighbour(s)?
Our walls, floors, and ceilings are quite thin. It’s easy to cause noise for your neighbour without realising it. Please, whenever you are up after 23.00, think very carefully if what you are doing might be keeping your neighbour awake, especially if you have visitors in your room. The Residents’ Handbook gives this advice:

  • Respect others’ needs for quiet time: they may want to sleep or study at different times from you. Being unable to sleep or work when you need to can make you annoyed and stressed, and can seriously impact on your quality of life. You do not want to inflict those feelings on your neighbours.
  • Be polite and try to help if your neighbour knocks on your door and asks you to quieten down; next time it might be you asking for quiet!
  • Agree on quiet times with your neighbours, and times when it might be ok to make a bit more noise (not between 11.00 pm and 7.00 am, when everyone must be quiet).
  • Noise travels further than you think, so talk quietly in corridors; and don’t run or shout in hallways or stairwells.
  • Remember the walls between rooms are thin; and the floors and ceilings transmit sound very easily (most noise complaints are about the room above or below). Please make a conscious effort to think about your neighbours if you have visitors in your room at night.
  • Subwoofer speakers (with output in the 20-200 Hz range) are prohibited. If a subwoofer is found in your room after a noise complaint, it will be confiscated.
  • Our doors are heavy and have closer mechanisms to comply with fire safety regulations; so they make a bang when they close. Please try to pull your door closed quietly and pull the handle down so the lock doesn’t click, especially at night so you don’t wake up your neighbours.
  • In the garden keep noise down at all times: even a little noise here echoes around the courtyard and can disturb people in rear-facing bedrooms.
  • Outside the front of the building, don’t shout late at night: you can wake up almost half the Hall whose bedrooms face onto the square.
  • You must be quiet 11.00 pm to 7.00 am: no noise at all should be audible from outside your room between these times.

I hope some of this guidance is useful. As always, please talk to me if anything isn’t clear.