Regulations and obligations to be observed when installing an air conditioner in a detached house or apartment

You wish to air-condition a single-family house or an apartment and you are wondering whether you should request authorization from the town hall or the agreement of the syndic of the co-ownership before installing an air conditioner.

You are right to ask yourself the question!

We explain the regulations on the installation of an air conditioner, the administrative procedures to be carried out before you start, where to find model letters to print, the constraints and formalities to be observed when installing an air conditioner, the solutions to avoid problems with the neighbours...and the risks to which you expose yourself in the event of non-compliance with your obligations.

1) What does the law say about the installation of air conditioning (Regulation 2021)?

According to article R. 421-17 of the town planning code: “Must be preceded by a prior declaration when they are not subject to a building permit in application of articles R*421-14 to *R. 421-16 work carried out on existing constructions, with the exception of ordinary maintenance or repair work, and changes of destination of the following existing constructions:

a) Work having the effect of modifying the exterior appearance of an existing building, with the exception of renovation work; (…)”

And the case law considers that: "the installation of air conditioners, removable or not, on the facades of buildings is subject to a declaration of work" (Question n°103197 published only in the JO AN of September 5, 2006 p. 9297).

But this law therefore applies to certain types of air conditioners, not to all.

A split air conditioner

Consisting of a device located inside the habitat and a device located outside, it modifies the exterior appearance of the construction and must therefore be the subject of a prior declaration to the town hall before its installation.

A portable air conditioner

Consisting of a single device located inside the home, in the room to be cooled, it does not require the obligation to request authorization from the town planning department.

2) The prior declaration in town hall for the installation of an outdoor air conditioner on the facade

If you have the idea of installing an air conditioning unit or heat pump on the facade of your home, here are the steps to take with the town hall's urban planning department:

Model of authorization to print and submit to the town hall

Start by printing and filling in the Prior Declaration forms available online, depending on your situation:
- Prior declaration to print and complete for the installation of air conditioning in a detached house (Cerfa form 13703)
- Prior declaration to print and complete if you do not live in an individual house (Cerfa form 13404)
- Prior declaration to print and complete if you live in a housing estate (Cerfa form 13702)

What documents to attach to convince the town hall to give you permission to install air conditioning

In all cases, it is mandatory to attach to your Prior Declaration a plan of the location of the land (Art. R. 431-36 a of the town planning code), i.e. a plan allowing you to locate your land. in the city.

But to have your file accepted, it is advisable to also attach the plans, photos, drawings allowing you to understand the impact of the installation in the landscape, and this from the different angles of view.

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apartment air conditioning installation

Deadlines for responses from the town hall and period of validity of the authorization

The processing time of the file by the town hall is generally one month.

And who does not say a word consents!

Once the DP has been filed, you will receive a deposit receipt on which appears the date on which the work can begin in the absence of opposition.

Failing a return from the town hall before the expiry of this period, this means that your request has been accepted and that you can start your work.

Note that the authorization granted by the town hall is valid for a maximum of 3 years. If you exceed this period, you will have to ask for the renewal of the agreement.

What is the risk in the event of an air conditioning or heat pump without authorization from the town hall?

If you are in the case of an outdoor air conditioner (or a heat pump) which requires a prior declaration to the town hall, here is what the regulations say in the event of installation of the device without authorization, in a house individual or in a condominium apartment: failure to submit a request for declaration of work constitutes an offense and may expose the offender to a fine of between €1,200 and €300,000, to the obligation to restore, or even even to prison sentences in the event of recidivism. it is unlikely to go to prison for air conditioning, it is however very likely that you will have to remove the installation and restore the facades. Consequent inconveniences and costs that we advise you to avoid by doing things in the rules of the art.

Tip to get permission from the town hall more easily: hide the air conditioning

Guarantors of the city's heritage, the town halls are all concerned with the aesthetic harmony of the facades, but it must be admitted that the air conditioning motor units intended for outdoor installation are aesthetically poorly cared for and often spoil the view.

If you are in a detached house, prefer an installation in the lower part of the building so that the device is hidden by your hedge or your gate.

And to increase your chances of obtaining authorization from the town hall, you can also indicate in your prior declaration that you have planned the installation of a wooden air conditioning cover or an aluminum air conditioner cover so that the unsightly device is camouflaged under a nice piece of furniture with shutters and is thus not visible from the public space.

In fact, in some cities, the local PLU outright dictates that outdoor air conditioning units must always be hidden in one way or another.

3) Install air conditioning in a condominium apartment

If you want to install an air conditioner in an apartment, then you will need, in most cases, to ask for the agreement of the copro in addition to the authorization of the town hall.

4) In which case, do you have to ask for the authorization of the co-ownership to install an air conditioning?

If you do not live in a detached house but in a condominium, then the question arises of whether or not you need to obtain the agreement of the trustee before installing an air conditioning.
This question is all the more important as the deadlines for obtaining authorization from the AG of the co-owners can be much longer than those of the town hall, given that it only meets once a year... Do not miss the boat!
But again, the obligation to seek the agreement of the copro depends on the type of air conditioner, the location and the fixings you plan to install.

Is copro authorization required for a monobloc air conditioner?

No, it is not necessary to ask the opinion of the condominium if you just want to use an air conditioning unit that is located inside your apartment. You are 100% at home.

Do you need permission from the copro to install a split air conditioner whose exterior motor unit will be installed on the facade of the building?

Yes, it is necessary to obtain the agreement of the co-ownership if you modify the common parts (façade, roof, etc.). Before drilling holes on the facade to fix your outdoor air conditioner, you will therefore need to obtain the agreement of the co-ownership, unless of course the rules of the copro explicitly authorize it.

Do I need permission from the copro to install a split air conditioner whose exterior engine block will just be placed on my balcony or terrace?

If your outdoor air conditioner is positioned on a private part, if its installation does not require drilling a common part and does not modify the exterior appearance of the building, then you are not obliged to request authorization from the condominium. However, read the condominium regulations carefully to see if they specify the status of the balconies and terraces of the condominium (some condominiums classify them as common areas) and any usage constraints.

Even if it does not modify a common part, we see here that a problem can arise from the fact that an air conditioner placed on a balcony can have a negative impact on the exterior appearance of the building. To avoid a dispute, we therefore recommend that you provide a solution to hide the air conditioner if it is visible from the outside. Hedge, palisade (if authorized in the copro regulations)… On the other hand, be careful not to use a cover system that would prevent air from circulating widely around the air conditioner. For an optimal solution, be aware that there are attractive louvered furniture designed to hide the air conditioner without interfering with its operation. And very clever who could make the difference with a small storage unit by looking at it.

5) Should we ask for the agreement of the co-ownership before or after the prior declaration to the town hall?

It is advisable to obtain the authorization of the co-owners by a vote in general meeting before the filing of the preliminary declaration with the town planning department of your city.

6) How to obtain the agreement of the co-ownership for the installation of an air conditioner?

If it is a tenant who wants to install the air conditioning

In this case, the tenant must formalize a request to his owner and it is the latter who will have to take the steps to obtain the agreement of the co-ownership.

How can the owner obtain the agreement of the copro?

The co-owner must send a registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt to the trustee so that he can include this question on the agenda of the next general meeting. During the GA, the co-owners will validate or not the installation of the air conditioning after a vote.

Sample letter to send to the trustee to request the installation of air conditioning

Here is an example of a standard letter to send to the trustee to request the installation of an air conditioning.

Mr Syndic,

I, the undersigned Sir/Madam …, co-owner of the building located … are writing to you because I would like to carry out work affecting the common areas of the building and/or its exterior appearance.
It would be the installation of air conditioning located … fixed …. which would be visible (or not) from ….
The impact for the co-ownership would therefore be limited to …
And I planned … so that this installation does not interfere with the other co-owners / the view of the facade.
Pursuant to article 25b of the law of July 10, 1965, I therefore request the prior authorization of the general meeting and ask you to place my draft resolution on the next agenda.
You will find attached the related documents (draft resolution, plan, etc.)



Majority rules when voting in GAs

According to article 25 of the law of July 10, 1965, the vote at the general meeting of co-owners will require an absolute majority for the installation of an outdoor air conditioner on the common areas.

But, still according to this law (article 25-1), in the case of a vote where the majority is not reached but at least a third of the votes have validated the question, then a second vote can be organized immediately by the same assembly but this time by a simple majority. This is to prevent the co-ownership from being penalized by excessive absenteeism at the meeting.

However, check whether the co-ownership regulations provide for specific approval rules.

How to convince the copro to install the air conditioning?

To more easily obtain the agreement of the co-ownership, it is advisable to provide all the documents allowing the other co-owners to clearly visualize the project and to understand its impacts.

Naturally, it is also recommended to present at the same time to the co-owners the solutions planned to minimize this impact in order to convince them to give their agreement, such as for example the installation of a Decoclim air conditioner cover unit which makes it possible to completely reduce the visual nuisance. and notably noise pollution without interfering with the operation of the device.

7) What are the risks in the event of installing an air conditioner without the prior agreement of the co-ownership?

In the event of the installation of an outdoor air conditioner or a heat pump without the prior authorization of the general meeting, the syndicate of co-owners may demand its dismantling before the courts for a period of 10 years from the start of the work. , as specified by the law of July 10, 1965 (article 42): "Without prejudice to the application of special texts setting shorter deadlines, personal actions arising from the application of this law between co-owners, or between a co-owner and the syndicate, are prescribed by a period of ten years. »

8) What are the obligations vis-à-vis the neighbors in terms of air conditioning?

Distances to respect for the installation of air conditioning vis-à-vis the neighborhood

The regulations are not specific about the minimum distance between an air conditioner and the neighbors' property.

Nevertheless, the town planning code stipulates that a construction must be carried out at least 3 meters from the limits of the property.

What are the air conditioning noise constraints

If the regulations do not impose specific constraints on the installation distances vis-à-vis the neighborhood, article R1334-31 of the Public Health Code does however require that your installation does not generate an abnormal neighborhood disturbance, particularly in terms of noise pollution generated by the motor and the fan located outside your home.

In this regard, the law does not set an absolute decibel threshold not to be exceeded, but a maximum tolerated “emergence” threshold.

We explain what that means.

Below 25dB in the house and 30dB in the garden, no problem, the law considers the noise to be low. Beyond 25dB, your air conditioning must not generate for your neighbor a surplus of decibels of more than 5 decibels compared to the usual ambient noise of the day and 3 decibels compared to the usual ambient noise at night.

To maintain good relations with your neighbours, pay attention to the sound volume of the air conditioner (indicated in dB) at the time of purchase, avoid installing the device in a closed interior courtyard or near the openings of neighboring dwellings, and avoid directing the vents towards your neighbours. It is also possible to install sound insulation boxes to minimize noise from the appliance and to limit vibration noise during installation. To learn more, we advise you to read our full article on solutions to reduce air conditioning noise.

box air conditioning cover Air conditioning cover