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Old 11.11.2020, 22:38
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Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

Hi Folk,

So following advise I got here, I discovered that portable split ACs exist in Switzerland (they are the same as a proper AC, but without installation). And I found some that have over 20K BTU, which is powerful enough.

The problem is that when I went viewing apartments, and asked landlords about it, they had no idea what this is, and due to them not understanding and prefering to live a simple life, chose other tenants.

The question is - should I even ask them? These devices require no modification of the home at all, are fully portable, and I found some that are quiet. Not to mention that some of the places I view make it easy to hide them from naighboors.

So do I even need their permission to use one?
If I do use one without asking them, and they object, what would happen? Am I able to stand my ground on this and refuse to remove it due to it not altering the apartment? What would be the consequence (including possible escalation) of such a situation?
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Old 11.11.2020, 22:52
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

Why would you need permission to use a portable AC unit that requires no installation? How would they even know you were using one?

I mean seriously, I am surprised after being turned down for multiple apartmets you hadn't figured this out already, but use some common sense and don't ask them again because lots of people in CH use them in apartments during peak summer when temperatures can get unbearable.
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Old 11.11.2020, 22:52
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

If they're unhappy they could give you notice to leave the property, i.e. end the rental agreement.
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Old 11.11.2020, 22:57
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

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should I even ask them?
no


...but you need to be sure that it won't disturb anyone.


BTW they're similar, not the same, with one important difference but you know that already.
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Old 11.11.2020, 23:01
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

Unless they are paying for the electricity or the unit is disturbing other tenants I can’t see them having a problem. But if the noise causes complaints you might have to stop using it.
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Old 11.11.2020, 23:01
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

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Why would you need permission to use a portable AC unit that requires no installation? How would they even know you were using one?

I mean seriously, I am surprised after being turned down for multiple apartmets you hadn't figured this out already, but use some common sense and don't ask them again because lots of people in CH use them in apartments during peak summer when temperatures can get unbearable.
Well, I am a very upfront person, I was trying to be transperant with them.

I guess I should keep my mouth shut?
What actually happens if they serve notice? I thought that usually there are specific dates where I can leave and need to give notice ahead of time, unless I find substitute tenants. So by the same logic - it would take them a long while to get rid of me, right? And by then summer will be over, so there is no real point in them serving notice as by the time it'll take effect the AC won't be in use?

Last edited by CheshireCa; 11.11.2020 at 23:20.
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Old 11.11.2020, 23:25
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

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Well, I am a very upfront person, I was trying to be transperant with them.

I guess I should keep my mouth shut?
What actually happens if they serve notice? I thought that usually there are specific dates where I can leave and need to give notice ahead of time, unless I find substitute tenants. So by the same logic - it would take them a long while to get rid of me, right? And by then summer will be over, so there is no real point in them serving notice as by the time it'll take effect the AC won't be in use?
Yes you should keep your mouth shut. They have as little say on your portable AC as they have on whether you have TV, a laptop, a bed, or a pair of stools.
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Old 11.11.2020, 23:36
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

At my last place we had the portable type with the sleeve that attaches to the window so you can vent the hose out. We were on the 5th floor under a boiling hot roof terrace and never had any complaints about noise, then again we lived opposite a red light area and nobody in the building could sleep anyway.

We used to put it on for a few hours in the evening and close the bedroom door, switching it off at bedtime. It let us sleep with the windows closed as the room was cool.

The apartment we live in now was built in 2018 and has geothermal underfloor heating and an air cooling/circulation system. However, we did ask the property co what the position was on having portable aircon and they said it was fine as long as the noise didn't cause disturbance. We haven't needed to use it here.
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Old 12.11.2020, 08:17
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

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Well, I am a very upfront person, I was trying to be transperant with them.

I guess I should keep my mouth shut?
What actually happens if they serve notice? I thought that usually there are specific dates where I can leave and need to give notice ahead of time, unless I find substitute tenants. So by the same logic - it would take them a long while to get rid of me, right? And by then summer will be over, so there is no real point in them serving notice as by the time it'll take effect the AC won't be in use?
I get your good and honest intentions, but in this case they are unnecessary and it it's losing you apartments you need to not do it.

You are not going to get served notice for occasionally using a portable AC during Summer, many people do it.

Last edited by Chuff; 12.11.2020 at 10:03.
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Old 12.11.2020, 08:50
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

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Yes you should keep your mouth shut. They have as little say on your portable AC as they have on whether you have TV, a laptop, a bed, or a pair of stools.

Does everybody know what a split AC is? It requires quite a large device to be mounted on the outside of the building. I'm not sure about the noise, but it certainly looks unsightly and I wouldn't be that keen on my neighbours having one.


It's not like a TV, bed etc because it is mounted outside the building.
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Old 12.11.2020, 09:05
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

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Does everybody know what a split AC is? It requires quite a large device to be mounted on the outside of the building. I'm not sure about the noise, but it certainly looks unsightly and I wouldn't be that keen on my neighbours having one.


It's not like a TV, bed etc because it is mounted outside the building.
She very likely just used the wrong terminology:

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I discovered that portable split ACs exist in Switzerland (they are the same as a proper AC, but without installation)
If something needs to be mounted externally then it requires installation. All she needs is a portable one.
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Old 12.11.2020, 09:28
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

Well, you certainly can find split portable ACs .. for example: https://www.galaxus.ch/en/s2/product...2?tagIds=40-62

Not sure about placement - if you have the external unit on your balcony, it wouldn't be visible ...
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Old 12.11.2020, 09:57
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

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Well, you certainly can find split portable ACs .. for example: https://www.galaxus.ch/en/s2/product...2?tagIds=40-62

Not sure about placement - if you have the external unit on your balcony, it wouldn't be visible ...
Yes, agreed, if she has a split portable unit then she can still place it out on the balcony, but as for mounting it externally on the side of a building in any way that required drilling into the external wall, this generally wouldn't be allowed.

The problem however with a split portable unit is that the fan noise will be outside. This means it could be heard by the neighbours either when they are out on their balcony or when they have their window open while sleeping. This could be really annoying if the OP's balcony is not really private and separated from the next closest person.

A regular portable AC unit keep s the noise inside and this is the one that the vast majority of people use, for example these https://www.delonghi.com/en-int/prod...r-conditioners

Last edited by Chuff; 12.11.2020 at 10:31.
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Old 12.11.2020, 10:28
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

Also bear in mind that Zurich has quite prohibitive regulations regarding air conditioning:

https://translate.google.com/?sl=de&...l&op=translate

I assume it doesn't apply to portable ones, but it doesn't actually say that afaik.
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Old 12.11.2020, 10:30
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

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if you have the external unit on your balcony, it wouldn't be visible ...
still loud as hell. direct neighbors could even be disturbed by its vibration especially when the compressor turns on/off.
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Old 12.11.2020, 10:44
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

20K BTU is not a small one, old electrical installations might have a problem handling it. In Watts consumption it may be similar to a clothes iron, but we use irons for 0.5-1 hour while the AC compressor may be starting several times per hour for several hours.

Maybe not a worry in a single home, but in an apartment building with and old electrical installation there might be a case of every flat using a lot of energy at the same time and the AC may be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Once my electric teapot failed and I found out my last flat had no circuit breakers but good old fashioned fuses. Then I found out the fuses where shared by 2 flats in the same floor and that it's impossible to buy a fuse on a Sunday. So a faulty teapot left me and my neighbor's kitchen without power for more than 1 day.......so careful with old installations.
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Old 12.11.2020, 10:45
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

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still loud as hell. direct neighbors could even be disturbed by its vibration especially when the compressor turns on/off.
Newish ones are quite quiet, I have 6 one of which has a noisy fan, the others are not an issue.
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20K BTU is not a small one, old electrical installations might have a problem handling it. In Watts consumption it may be similar to a clothes iron, but we use irons for 0.5-1 hour while the AC compressor may be starting several times per hour for several hours.

Maybe not a worry in a single home, but in an apartment building with and old electrical installation there might be a case of every flat using a lot of energy at the same time and the AC may be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Once my electric teapot failed and I found out my last flat had no circuit breakers but good old fashioned fuses. Then I found out the fuses where shared by 2 flats in the same floor and that it's impossible to buy a fuse on a Sunday. So a faulty teapot left me and my neighbor's kitchen without power for more than 1 day.......so careful with old installations.
12k BTU is what I have in a small bedroom, 18k for the kitchen. We have 84k BTU for a 130m2 apartment gives an idea of what you need if you are doing it properly.
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Old 12.11.2020, 12:45
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Thank you everyone for the replies!

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Does everybody know what a split AC is? It requires quite a large device to be mounted on the outside of the building. I'm not sure about the noise, but it certainly looks unsightly and I wouldn't be that keen on my neighbours having one.


It's not like a TV, bed etc because it is mounted outside the building.
A portable one does not require mounting. It will be places on the balcony, or just outside in the garden. The places I view have quite spacious private balconies or are ground floor and have a substantial private garden. Exactly for that reason. And also I like privacy.

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Also bear in mind that Zurich has quite prohibitive regulations regarding air conditioning:

https://translate.google.com/?sl=de&...l&op=translate

I assume it doesn't apply to portable ones, but it doesn't actually say that afaik.
I am planning to live in Hofe. From what I understood there is no law forbidding the split AC, especially not the portable ones.

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20K BTU is not a small one, old electrical installations might have a problem handling it. In Watts consumption it may be similar to a clothes iron, but we use irons for 0.5-1 hour while the AC compressor may be starting several times per hour for several hours.

Maybe not a worry in a single home, but in an apartment building with and old electrical installation there might be a case of every flat using a lot of energy at the same time and the AC may be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Once my electric teapot failed and I found out my last flat had no circuit breakers but good old fashioned fuses. Then I found out the fuses where shared by 2 flats in the same floor and that it's impossible to buy a fuse on a Sunday. So a faulty teapot left me and my neighbor's kitchen without power for more than 1 day.......so careful with old installations.
This is actually a good point, thank you for raising it. I will have to check about the electrical supply. Though most apartments I was viewing were relatively new and modern, so I hope for this not to be a problem. Worst comes to worst, I can also use a small portable generator.

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Newish ones are quite quiet, I have 6 one of which has a noisy fan, the others are not an issue.


12k BTU is what I have in a small bedroom, 18k for the kitchen. We have 84k BTU for a 130m2 apartment gives an idea of what you need if you are doing it properly.
Wow, can I be your friend? I love AC and this is more BTU per sqm that I ever had. I was aiming at a single 20-30K BTU for the whole apartment. But maybe it actually makes sense to have several smaller ones, as the small ones can be very quiet.
In general though, as you said - modern ACs improved a lot in terms of noise, and some of them are so quiet they are barely noticeable (going as low as 20 Dbs).
If it gets loud I can also noise insulate it, but I do not plan for it to generate significant noise as I don't want to annoy the neighboors and it will annoy me as well.

BTW, with inverter units, the compressor no longer has the rigid on/off cycle, which both saves energy and avoids strong vibrations and noise.
As mentioned, AC units progressed a lot

Last edited by roegner; 12.11.2020 at 12:48. Reason: Merging consucutive posts
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Old 12.11.2020, 12:53
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

*Portable* split units have the compressor on the *inside* unit. The outside unit is just a fan. You don't need to worry about outside compressor noise but rather inside compressor noise annoying your neighbours but this would generally be the same as for mono-block units. The outside fan makes some noise of course. Generally the more money you pay the quieter the units. It's worth checking out the dB ratings. Personally I wouldn't get one of the 'cheap' ones from e.g. FUST. The Ulisse one mentioned is what I'd recommend although the Galaxus price is a bit too high for this unit.

Last edited by Landers; 12.11.2020 at 13:04.
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Old 12.11.2020, 13:11
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Re: Can a landlord forbid portable split AC?

Maybe not the landlord, but please be aware that certain places, i. e. Canton or City now restrict or otherwise may prohibit the use of or installation of air conditioning. For example, Geneva apparently had strict rules and all comfort a/c require an authorisation. Apparently something similar is also in the works for VD as it relates to energy consumption. Read the requirements carefully as to how they apply to your area. Here are Geneva rules for example.
https://www.ge.ch/rafraichir-climati...sation-confort
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