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What you need to know about installing an air-conditioner in your apartment in Spain

It’s summer. And it’s suddenly becoming aboundingly obvious that Spain gets hot in the summer and that it isn’t going to be enough to pull the shutters down, take frequent cold showers and spend your afternoons having a siesta.

What you need to know about installing an air-conditioner in  your apartment in Spain
Photo: garyperkin/Depositphotos

You realise that the only way you are going to survive the next two-and-a-half months is by installing an air conditioning unit. And quick.

But what are the rules?  Is there anything stopping you and why the hell didn’t the previous occupants install one?

Well, for starters, they may have done and then decided to take it with them to their next residence. So don’t jump to the conclusion that just because there isn’t one, then air-conditioning is banned.

But there are rules and regulations in every building so you need to check.

If you rent the property:

If you are renting, first of all check  your contract and see if there are any clauses about air-conditioning units. If there is no clause expressly forbidding air conditioning units there may be something about making any kind of alterations to the property.

Article 23 of the Spanish Urban Leasing Law (Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos or LAU) establishes that the tenant may not carry out works that modify the property without the written consent of the landlord.

It’s not clear exactly whether installing an air conditioner is classified as a “modification” by law but the only way to avoid problems is to check with your landlord.

To avoid problems and potentially having to remove the air conditioner and return the property to its original state at the end of the tenancy, write a written request, providing details of air-conditioning unit, it’s make, dimensions, etc and where you plan to install it and ensure you get written consent.

READ MORE: Renting property in Spain: Know your rights as a tenant


Photo: Jocelyn Erskine-Kellie/Flickr

If you own the property:

You might think it would be easier if you own the property but you will still have to check what rules apply to air conditioning units in your building and seek permission from the “comunidad” – residents community.

Comunidad rules and regulations:

Unfortunately, these differ from building to building depending on the whim of the homeowner’s association.

Sometimes, air conditioning units are banned from the facade of the building for reasons of aesthetics. Other times there are rules in placed as to where exactly the units can be place in order to limit noise.

 If there are no particular ‘statutes’ laid down by the homeowners’ association then you will still need permission and this can be sought with a request put to an “owners’ meeting”. Usually, a majority vote is all that is needed for consent.

Rules set by the Ayuntamiento

Some local councils lay down laws about air conditioning units, the type that can be installed and their location.

There could be rules about the distance they should be from a neighbours window and also about how noisy they are and what hours they can be used.

So always check with your Town Hall to avoid sanctions.

What next?

Once you have the consent you need and have checked the rules in your local area then find the air conditioning unit you want.

Air-conditioning units cost from around €600 (plus installation) for a 2,000 BTU ( frigorías) unit, which is sufficient to cool an average size room.

Air-conditioners can be noisy, so check the noise level before choosing one.

If you discover it’s just too complicated to install an air conditioning unit, then you may want to opt for a “penguino” – or a penguin as portable air conditioning units are dubbed in Spain. Basically the bigger they are, the more effective but some require an outlet hose that can go through a window.

Bear in mind too that they can be expensive to run.

If all else fails, just do what the Spanish do. Roll down the shutters, turn off the lights and siesta through the hottest part of the day.

Vocab:

aire acondicionado – air conditioner

instalación de aparatos – installation of unit

comunidad de propietarios / comunidades de vecinos – Homeowners association / Residents committee

Estatutos de la Comunidad: Rules of the Building

 ola de calor  – heat wave

las normativas – the rules / regulations

Penguino – penguin – portable air conditioner

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Spain’s new rental laws

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PROPERTY

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about locksmiths in Spain

If you get locked out, have a break-in or need to change or fix the door lock at your home in Spain, here are the rates and advice you need before calling a Spanish locksmith (cerrajero).

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about locksmiths in Spain

Like anywhere, locksmiths are generally expensive and the price can vary greatly depending on the service you need and where you are.

It also depends on when you need them, as it’ll cost much more to call them out on a Saturday night than a Monday morning, for example.

Nor would it cost the same to open your front door as it would a reinforced security door.

But locksmiths don’t just make copies of keys and bail you out when you’re stuck outside your flat.

They also offer a whole host of different services including, but not limited to, opening safes, creating master keys, installing security doors, anti-drill doors, cutting specialist locks that reject copied keys, and even unlocking the boot of your car.

How much does a locksmith cost in Spain?

Given all these variables, the price can range massively.

According to Cronoshare, the average price for a nationwide call out in Spain can start from €80 anywhere up to €400.

On average, for a basic service, you can expect to pay anywhere between €40-€70 an hour for the labour, with the price of changing or installing a basic lock anywhere between €80-€200. 

For basic door openings, it depends on the situation you find yourself in: for doors locked with a key, which is a more complex task, prices average around €200, and for doors that are jammed or slammed shut, slightly cheaper in the €80-€100 range.

For an armoured or security door, prices can start at around €300.

In short, a general rule is that the more complex the task is, the higher the prices.

And as always, prices can vary depending on where you are in Spain, the quality of the locksmith, the time of the day and week you need his or her services, and if its a public holiday or not. 

So, as always, compare prices to try and find the most economical solution without skimping on quality.

As such, the following rates are estimations taken from average prices from locksmith.

Weekend/holiday rates

Where prices can really start to add up, however, is when you have an emergency situation requiring a locksmith’s assistance at the weekend, on a public holiday, or outside of normal working hours.

And if you live in Spain, you probably know there’s quite a few of those days throughout the year.

If you really need a cerrajero on a public holiday or during non-working hours (usually defined as anything between 8pm-8am) prices can reach €300 or €500 due to the fact you’ll have to cover the cost of travel, which starts from around €40 plus the increased rate.

Then you must also include the price of labour to the flat rate, which is usually somewhere between €40 and €70 an hour regardless of when you call them out.

Key vocabulary 

We’ve put together some of the basic vocabulary you might need if you find yourself needing a locksmith while in Spain.

el cerrajero – locksmith

la llave – the key

la llave de repuesto – the spare key

la puerta – the door

la cerradura – the lock

la bisagra – the hinge

día festivo – public holiday

cambio de bombín – change of cylinder lock

puerta blindada – armoured door

coste de mano de obra – labour costs

quedarse afuera – get locked out 

puerta cerrada de un portazo – door slammed shut

puerta cerrada con llave – locked door

Tips relating to choosing a good locksmith in Spain 

If you’ve just started renting a new place or have bought a property, it’s advisable to change the lock as you don’t know who has keys to your front door. If you’re a tenant, try to negotiate this with your landlord as it’s in both of your interests that only you two have keys to the property.

If there has been a burglary in your property while you’re living in it and there’s no sign of forced entry, then there’s a very big chance that the burglars had a copy of your keys, and you should definitely change the locks. 

If you’ve lost your keys and you think it happened close to your home, again it’s advisable for you to change the locks.

One of the best ways to avoid being locked out and having to cough up a hefty sum is to give a spare set to someone that you trust that lives in your town or city in Spain. 

When it comes to choosing a locksmith in Spain, you should make sure he or she is a reputable one. Asking friends and family first can be your first port of call.

If not, make sure you read reviews online if available to get any insight beforehand.

In order to avoid any nasty surprises, ask them on the phone for a budget (presupuesto) for all the costs attached to their services before accepting.

Be wary of cerrajeros that automatically want to change the whole lock when a simpler and less costly option is possible. 

Usually they should offer you a contract for you to read carefully before signing. It should include a three-month guarantee for the potential new lock or at least a breakdown of the costs.

Make sure that they are not charging you an excessively high price if it’s an emergency, as this is not actually legal.

There’s also asking them to prove their accreditation with the Unión Cerrajeros de Seguridad (UCES).

Weekend and holiday rates can be higher nonetheless, so consider your options and if it’s worth staying with a friend or family member for a night to save some money. A trustworthy and honest cerrajero will let you know about the money you could save if you choose to wait as well.

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