This is my first time visiting this forum so excuse me if I make any mistakes with this post. Basically my situation is:
For context we live in a City. Our neighbour has knocked on our door and complained about the noise the Air Conditioning makes at night. Specifically it is the noise of the air flowing out of the exhaust tube. The loudest thing about the AC is the actual machine but we have the windows and shutters mostly closed to avoid heat getting in, this also prevents the noise of the AC unit escaping. The neighbour confirmed that it was not an issue of the unit but the noise of the ventilation/extraction tube. The noise is just a low level but constant flow of air making a sort of ‘shhhhh…’ noise.
Now here’s the thing, we’ve put up with a lot of construction work being done upstairs for the last 6 months. Drilling, hammering ect. I believe he bought the place and hired renovators. We never complained and just dealt with it. My partner works from home and she just put on headphones and tried to ignore it.
To have this neighbour come down and not even introduce himself before telling us to turn off the airconditioning rubs me the wrong way.
To add to it we’re experiencing a heatwave and it’s around 30 degrees in our room at midnight. I am not the worst with heat but this is too much, I can’t sleep with the temperature so high. There’s two of us in this room and a dog and I find it crazy that someone would tell us to turn of the AC unit. It’s not going to be on forever, once the temperature cools down a bit we’ll be putting it into the basement. But until then it’s a neccessity.
I don’t want to fall out with the neighbour and I want to work with him, we’re very friendly with our downstairs neighbour. But his demand feels a bit entitled to me.
I had a little look and couldn’t find much information on noise but honestly if I snored with the windows open it would likely be louder in volume. It’s the issue with tiny apartments in my opinion. Cramming people together in such a small area means that you have to compromise, if you’re not okay with this don’t live in a city.
Where do I stand legally? Am I within my right to have AC on in the night or not?
Hi Jakro and welcome to SF
Sorry to hear about your neighbour problem.
You don’t say if you are a tenant or leaseholder of the apartment which might have some significance - if a tenant, perhaps your tenancy agreement hold some clues as to your expected conduct regarding causing a nuisance to others in the apartment building…
From a personal perspective, you are quite right. People have to learn to be tolerant of others needs when living in close quarters and I would not regard the use of an aircon unit during the night during extreme temperatures as being totally unreasonable given, as you say, that once the temperatures resume to more normal levels, the unit will be returned to the basement for storage.
Has this been explained to the neighbour - are they cognisant of any health issues you may have which suggest that controlling the temperature during the night holds some importance to your well being?
Perhaps the heat is just getting to him too…
If any tenancy agreement (if applicable) is silent (no pun intended) on the issue, I very much doubt he has a leg to stand on legally but you may wish to consult the owner of the building to seek their view.
If you live in a block of flats you should have a syndic, go and have a chat with him/her about it. They deal essentially with all the neighbours’ accounts for common expenses etc but can also be a buffer for disputes.
Thank you for the reply and advice Graham I’m a tenant and have lived here 2 years and the neighbour bought the flat at the start of the year I believe but only moved in in July. I’m going to try and further explain things to the neighbour through a letter in french as talking is unproductive with my level of french and his level of english.
We’re also going to chat to our downstairs neighbour who we’re on very good terms with to see if it has bothered them at all. I really don’t want to be putting people out but if it’s just this one person(who I don’t even know his name) then I think they can lump it.
@vero Thanks for your reply. I will check the tenancy agreement to see what the wording is and perhaps go to the syndic. If I can’t find an agreement with the neighbour. I don’t wan things to blow out of proportion. This is a really temporary measure during extreme temperatures. The noise is audible but so unoffensive that his own fan if he had one would drown it out. Personally people just shouldn’t live this close to other if they’re this sensitive to sound. It’s not like we’re partying or watching tv late at night…
Seems to me as if it is the neighbour who is being unreasonable. Next time he comes to complain I would either A/ Not answer the door, or B/ respond with the Gallic Shrug. Give in to the neighbour on this point and before long he will be dictating when you may or may not use your vacuum cleaner or washing machine. The guy is just being ridiculous so ignore him.
It seems very simple to me, its really hot and the neighbour cant sleep. Therefore they are awake and blaming the first thing. If you turned off your air conditioner they would still be awake because they are too hot.
I havent measured the sound level of the exhaust tube but about the same as a tumble dryer vent from memory so not really noisy.
I made a compromise the day before yesterday with the neighbour that we would turn the AC off at 1am. He seemed friendly otherwise and I am okay with losing a little sleep if it’s really bothering hom so much. I’m not 100% happy and I’ve arrived late to work the past two mornings but it’s hopefully only a few more weeks with this heat.
Fast forward to today though and he stopped me as I was entering and I thought he was just going to say hi, instead he said “1am is too late, can you turn it off at 10? 10 is good.” Now I’ve lost my patience. I just said no, that’s not okay for me and it’s not a compromise at all. Our apartment rests at 30 degrees through most of the night and it’s just too high for me, my partner and our 1 year old (lonmg haired) dog. He said he can call the police and they will issue a fine because france law is any noise at all after 7pm is illegal. I’ve told him I think they will make allowances for air con during a heatwave especially when the extreme heat can affect our health.
I said I’ve already contacted the letting agency(still waiting for a reply) and we can talk to the syndic also to settle the dispute. But I’m quite confident that I wont be fined for what is frankly a small amout of noise that he could escape by closing the window. Additionally I will let him know that calling the police on us is not something we will forget. I don’t understand why he would want to make enemies within 1 month of moving in.
His point of view all stems from this idea though that any noise at all after 7pm is illegal in france. I don’t believe it’s this black and white and all the french people i’ve spoken to have said that they have never heard of this being an issue and they themselves have airconditioners on at night.
So yeah, we’ll see how it goes. I’ll update when I have more
In many areas there will be an arrêté préfectoral about voisinage (neighborliness) which usually includes restrictions on when you can do noisy work using heavy duty power tools (often 7h.30 -12h15 13.30- 19h on weekdays etc etc). There is often also stuff about tapage nocturne, mainly load music but also can include pumps.
This service public notice recommends you check the rules of your copropriété. But personally I think anyone trying to complain about an air conditioning fan at the moment would not be taken seriously!! It is not abnormal - unless the neighbour is a total snowflake.
So do I, but throughout this heatwave I have slept with totally open windows at night, often with a large dog in the room too. Is it so much hotter in a city than in the country?
My practice was, and is, to keep both bedroom windows and door shut during the day then open the windows (but not the door) about an hour before bed. Only when I, and sometimes the dog, went in there to sleep was the door left open as well. Then for the first couple of hours or so I slept on top of the covers, then pulling them over lightly till morning.
We do have a/c, but I have only put it on for a couple of hours during the evening meal, otherwise we have all outside doors and windows open, but covered if possible. I realise that our small house in countryside has little in common with your situation though, so if a/c is the only way to sleep, I agree with your decision to maintain it.
convention suggests that leaving the a/c on is a sensible thing to do since it will continue to cool the fabric of the house and its contents as opposed to flip flopping on and off. Somewhat akin to the use of central heating during the winter where convention suggests leaving it on 24/7 but low, in the background, rather than trying to use it to heat a space in a short time as would be the case with flipping it on in the morning for breakfast then switching it off during the day whilst out at work and then on again in the evening which is less efficient.
good sensible advice… if you have shutters to partly close them (leaving a small air gap) also helps or use curtains if there are no shutters.
In the Charente, the windows are designed such that they are high and narrow to take most advantage from the low winter sun to heat the room and when the sun is high during the summer, the intrusion into the room is effectively less. Planning requirements for new builds (certainly in Charente) encourages the continuance of this practice.
Hi, yeah we use the shutters closed 80% of the way and just poke the tube out. Then we use a towel to block the remaindur of the hole to prevent as much cool air from escaping.
The insulation is so poor in this building/apartment though that 10 minutes after turning the ac off the temperature rises by 5 degrees. The area we’re in is a bit of an alcove and there’s little to no breeze circulating. We also only have one side of a building so we can’t create a wind tunnel during the night to get some fresh air flowing. It just becomes stifflingly hot in matter of minutes after turning the aircon off.
I recorded a video of the noise during the night so that it’s easier to understand.
Our friendly neighbours downstairs have offered to talk to the difficult neighbour this evening. I hope they can get through to him. If not I’m going to suggest that he calls the town hall and gets them to send someone out to measure the noise. It’s down to them to say if it’s too high and if they say it is we’ll do as they say. But I suspect they will say it’s fine…
I couldn’t even hear it from the video…
Our a/c is a permanent feature (as opposed to mobile) and when the set temp is achieved, it effectively runs silent, only kicking in momentarily to maintain the temperature. There’s also a night setting which reduces the noise the external unit makes (although our nearest neighbour is some distance away and probably wouldn’t even know we have one).
We haven’t used a mobile version for some years and can’t now remember if the two we did have had a “silent” feature or closed down when an optimal temperature was reached. Don’t even know if a mobile one can has such a facility but I do remember they were bloody heavy
I tried the ‘night mode’ but it did nothing to reduce the noise as far as I could tell.
@Gareth Thanks. Yeah it’s easy to come across as the bad guy making noise at night but I really can’t believe he’s making such a big fuss. I understand some people are light sleepers but his problem is not neccessarily my problem. I can try to work with him but when he starts afking too much I think it’s fair to stand my ground. I just hate that it makes us a bit nervious he’s going to kick off and kick on our door at any time. Sure we can not answer or call the police ourself but no one wants to deal with this in their home. We’re super chill and never throw parties, we keep the tv volume down and don’t blast music. We don’t use the washing machine or vacuume late at night. I think we’re honestly pretty good neighbours. He just needs to get used to a little white noise if he’s going to have his windows wide open.