Be a Good Neighbor
A peaceful home is something everyone in the neighborhood has a right to enjoy. Mutual respect and goodwill are easy to earn with a little bit of effort.
- Greeting your neighbors, introducing yourself, and waving are ways to start building good relationships.
- Give your contact info to your neighbors and ask for theirs. Many problems can be avoided or solved with a phone call.
- Show respect and consideration for your neighbors by keeping your yard and porch clean, playing music at a reasonable volume, and avoiding late-night noise.
Play it Safe
Theft can happen quickly, but here are a few things you can do to protect yourself from burglary—or something more serious.
- Don’t leave valuables unattended. Keep a list of the serial numbers of laptops, bicycles, stereos, and other valuables. Take photos of jewelry and other unique items.
- Lock your doors and first floor windows, and leave a light on when you go out.
- Stay alert by limiting alcohol consumption. People under the influence are much more likely to be victims of a serious crime.
- If you walk, walk with friends and stick to well-lit paths. Consider whether it’s advisable to take a taxi, rideshare car, or campus transportation. If you go to a party with a group, come home with the same group.
- Keep your phone charged so it’s ready if you need it in an emergency. IUPD encourages all students to download the Guardian safety app.
- Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
- See something, say something. If it looks out of place, report it.
- If you’re sick, don’t go partying. Bloomington has seen an increase in reported cases of diseases like measles and mumps in recent years. Learn the signs and symptoms of these and other common diseases at: go.iu.edu/healthanswers
Silence is Golden
You probably wouldn’t appreciate your neighbor mowing their lawn at 7 a.m. That’s how they feel when you party until 3 a.m. Different people have different schedules.
- If you’re planning a party, give your neighbors a heads-up. Tell them what time the party will be over and stick to that time.
- Make sure your guests are quiet and orderly inside and outside. IU’s student conduct code applies wherever you are, and you can be disciplined by the university for things that happen off campus. Greek organizations can be disciplined by their national associations for off-campus activities that violate chapter and association rules.
- Remember, the host of the party can face civil and criminal liability for any illegal activity that occurs at their party. This includes underage drinking and drug use, as well as personal injuries related to illegal activity and negligence.
- Local law prohibits excessive noise. Fines are up to $500 per violation. The law is enforceable 24 hours a day, with special standards for noise occurring between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
- Consider how setting off fireworks might affect your neighbors (and their pets!).
- If a party gets out of hand, call the police immediately. Do not try to deal with the situation yourself.
- Consumption of alcohol on public property, including city sidewalks, streets, and public parks, is prohibited by local law.
- Never accept a drink from someone you don’t know or leave your drink unattended, and don’t let guests drink and drive. Call a taxi, rideshare car, or campus transportation.
- Always seek help for anyone experiencing an alcohol-related emergency. Indiana law provides limited immunity from prosecution for certain alcohol-related offenses to a person who seeks help for another in these circumstances. Read the blog post.
Keep it Clean
Well-maintained neighborhoods are less likely to attract crime. Check your lease to see who is responsible for disposing of trash and recyclables, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, and raking leaves. If it’s you, make sure those things get done. If they don’t, under local law you can be fined.
- Familiarize yourself with your neighborhood’s trash and recycling pickup schedules. If you have large items to dispose of, figure out if and when those items are picked up.
- Keep your yard, porch, etc. free of trash and debris. Local law provides fines for failing to keep these areas clean.
- Don’t litter. You can be fined up to $150 under local law.
It’s important to report any vermin infestation (cockroaches, bedbugs, bats (yes, bats), etc.) to your landlord right away. Under local law, the landlord must make arrangements to eliminate pests from a rental unit (although you may be billed later if the infestation was your fault or your lease allows the landlord to charge you). Some pests carry infectious disease like rabies.
Bedbugs have become a significant problem in Bloomington. Here are some things you can do to avoid, or at least minimize, a bedbug infestation:
- Avoid bringing discarded furniture items into your home. New furniture (or gently used stuff from a dealer) looks better and is probably cheaper than the cost of bedbug extermination.
- Don’t invite friends who are having bedbug problems to visit you. Bedbugs can be easily spread by just sitting a backpack from an infested home down for a couple of minutes.
If you see any unfamiliar bugs in your home, or if you wake up with unexplained itching or bites, let your landlord know right away.
Share the Love
Having a pet can be lots of fun, but it’s also a significant responsibility. A pet is completely dependent on you for its well-being. Make sure you understand the commitment of time, money and care that comes with pet ownership.
- If you have roommates, be sure to discuss with them before getting a pet.
- Check your lease for pet restrictions or conditions.
- Be sure to keep your pet’s vaccinations up-to-date.
- Familiarize yourself with local animal control laws, which provide fines from $50 to $500 for things like abandonment, failure to restrain, cruelty, and nuisance (including excessive barking and pooping on property belonging to anyone other than the owner).
- Plan ahead for your pet’s care during academic breaks and other times when you can’t provide care yourself.
Parking in Bloomington can be challenging. Make sure you know the parking regulations in your neighborhood, especially if your rental doesn’t provide off-street parking. Illegally parked cars can be ticketed and/or towed.
- Street parking permits can be purchased from the city. The city is divided into several different residential parking zones.
- Always lock your car doors and remove all valuables from view.
- Consider public transportation. City and campus buses provide a convenient way to get to campus without having to find parking.
- Biking and walking are two other great ways to get to campus without having to worry about where to park. Bikes parked on campus must display a valid IU bike permit or be subject to removal.
Don't Get Lit
Fires can ignite quickly and without warning. Here are some tips for saving time during a fire emergency.
- Evacuate the building immediately when you hear an alarm. Don’t assume it’s a false alarm.
- Make an escape plan and practice it. Always know two ways out.
- Never disable a smoke alarm or sprinkler system, or hang any items on them.
- If your lease permits you to have candles, put them in sturdy holders, and never leave a burning candle unattended.
- If your lease permits you to smoke in your home, use deep, wide, and sturdy ashtrays, and place them on solid, inflammable surfaces.
- If a fire starts in the microwave, unplug it and keep the door closed.
- Don’t overload electrical outlets.
- Fire extinguishers and smoke alarms are required in every rental unit, but landlords are only required to install one working smoke alarm per floor. Tenants are responsible for keeping alarms in working order, including replacing batteries. The Bloomington Fire Department recommends placing a smoke detector in each bedroom and outside the sleeping area. Never remove the batteries from a smoke alarm except to replace them.
- The Fire Department also recommends everyone sleep with their bedrooms doors closed, close their bedroom doors when leaving the house, and close doors behind them when exiting in the event of smoke or a fire. A closed bedroom door prevents flames, smoke, and deadly gases from entering the bedroom. In a fire, the temperature difference between a closed-door bedroom and the space on the other side of the bedroom door can be up to 1,100 degrees.
IN AN EMERGENCY, DIAL 9-1-1
About this Piece
Produced by IU Sorority and Fraternity Life and IU Student Legal Services, with special thanks to our community partners:
- Indiana University Police Department, Chief Jill Lees
- Bloomington Police Department, Sgt. Pam Gladish
- Bloomington Fire Department, Tom Figolah, Fire Prevention Officer