Spring and summer time is a grilling time in Germany, but is it allowed to grill on the balcony? The fans of grilled meat and vegetables, who do not have a yard or garden, often have to ask this question. Accordingly, many people want to sit on their balcony or terrace and enjoy the delicacies in a cozy atmosphere. But what happens if this does not suit the neighbor? Is barbecuing on the balcony allowed and is there perhaps a barbecue law in Germany? Here are some important information and tips on the subject that can help you start the barbecue season in peace.
Table of Contents
- How is it allowed to barbecue on the balcony, according to the neighbor law?
- Is barbecuing allowed on the balcony?
- Avoiding smoke nuisance during barbecue
- Administrative offence according to the Immission Control Act
- Is it allowed to barbecue on the balcony with electric grill?
- Barbecuing on the balcony in rented houses
- When and how often is it allowed to barbecue on the balcony?
- Conclusion about grilling on the balcony
How is it allowed to barbecue on the balcony, according to the neighbor law?
Lighting the grill for a summer barbecue is a centuries-old tradition, but not everyone has a large garden or terrace. For city dwellers and people without a backyard, grilling on the apartment balcony may be the next best thing. For some typical conflicts that can arise between neighbors, there are legal regulations in the Civil Code (BGB). In addition, there is also neighbor law, which also applies to the whole of Germany. In addition, there are state-specific regulations. It is therefore not easy to invoke universal rights when barbecuing. One thing is certain, however: there is no fundamental right to barbecue.
A property owner is basically allowed to do whatever he wants with and on his property, but neighbors are also obliged to show mutual consideration. § Section 906 (1) of the German Civil Code regulates the effects of the neighboring property that the owner of a property must accept, provided that the use of his own property is not or only insignificantly affected. However, this is the theory in tenancy and housing law. Accordingly, there are countless court decisions on the subject of barbecues . Judges do not agree on this, although they often rule in favor of the “barbecue lovers”. Thus, it is undisputed that barbecuing, especially in the summer months, is quite common and must generally be tolerated. However, there is a limit to what is reasonable. In practice, the rights of disputing neighbors often collide.
Is barbecuing allowed on the balcony?
Everyone is allowed to barbecue to their heart’s content in the garden, on the terrace and on the balcony, because barbecuing is considered a “socially appropriate act” and is to be tolerated as such. Barbecuing on the balcony of rented apartments is also permitted in principle. In plain language: barbecuing on the balcony is not prohibited by law, but you should check your lease or the house rules beforehand to see whether you are allowed to barbecue on your balcony. In addition, barbecuing on the balcony may be prohibited if this is stated in the house rules or the rental agreement. If you sign such a lease and rent the apartment under these conditions, you will miss the legal process afterwards.
Avoiding smoke nuisance during barbecues
According to a ruling by the Essen Regional Court (10 S 438/01), the landlord has the right to include this clause in the contract. In this case, the house rules prohibited barbecuing on the balcony, whether on a charcoal grill or an electric grill. The tenant must comply with this. If he does not do so, he must expect termination in the worst case. Regardless of what the lease says, inconsiderate behavior will not be tolerated.
Even if barbecuing on the balcony is not expressly prohibited, neighbors must not be adversely affected by smoke or soot from the charcoal barbecue. If the smoke drifts into the neighboring apartment, there is usually no warning from the landlord, but possibly a fine. This is due if barbecuing on the balcony or terrace is classified as an administrative offense.
Administrative offense under the Immission Control Act
Barbecuing can also be a violation of the Immission Control Act. This is the case if the neighbors feel disturbed by the smell and smoke. By the way, it does not matter whether the barbecue is on the balcony, the terrace or in the garden. As you can see, the topic of “barbecuing on the balcony” can be interpreted very differently and has already occupied many courts. Therefore, it would always be best to come to a peaceful agreement with your neighbor. The two federal states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Brandenburg have their own legal regulations on the subject of barbecues. The state immission control law is authoritative here: smoke must not enter the living and sleeping quarters of the neighbors. Violations can result in a fine.
Is it allowed to barbecue on the balcony with an electric grill?
“With an electric grill, I can always grill on my balcony!” You’ve probably heard that too. Unfortunately, this can also be illegal in Germany. If your rental agreement generally prohibits grilling on the balcony, you are also not allowed to use a gas or electric grill on the balcony. The situation is different if charcoal grilling is prohibited by house rules, but electric or gas grills are allowed. What about apartment owners? Even in apartment complexes, owners are generally not allowed to barbecue with an electric grill on the balcony. According to the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court, barbecuing can generally be restricted, prohibited or limited in terms of time and location. Here, the location and size of the garden or balcony, the frequency of grilling and the grill used are the main factors. So the next time you want to barbecue with your electric grill on the balcony, you should first check whether this is also allowed in your area.
Barbecuing on the balcony in rented houses
If you like to barbecue and live in a rented apartment with a balcony, you can of course indulge your passion. Ideally, your neighbors won’t mind barbecuing with a charcoal grill from the balcony, and the courts won’t have to deal with lawsuits. However, things do not always go so smoothly. In practice, instead of using a charcoal fire, it has proven useful to use an electric grill or a gas grill for the balcony. In this case, there is no smoke nuisance, and your neighbors do not feel bothered. Only because of the smell of sausages, steaks & Co. no one can complain, except perhaps the vegetarians. For die-hard charcoal fans, however, there are in many places barbecue huts or barbecue areas for rent. In addition, grilling with charcoal is expressly permitted there.
If neighbors feel disturbed by smoke or noise, compromises must be made. What these look like varies. The Regional Court of Hamburg (40 C 229/72), for example, has ruled that barbecuing with a charcoal grill on the balcony of a rented apartment in a block of apartments is generally inadmissible because the neighbors are affected by the smoke in the apartment. In a tenant garden that looks already again differently. So it sees at least the district court Wedding. It was decided that the tenant may occasionally have a charcoal grill in his garden. This applies even if the house rules prohibit barbecuing on the balcony or terrace.
When and how often is it allowed to barbecue on the balcony?
In this regard, the Regional Court of Stuttgart (10 T 359/96) ruled that an apartment owner may barbecue on his terrace or balcony up to three times a year. However, the condominium owners’ association can prohibit barbecuing on balconies, terraces and lawns in the condominium by majority resolution, according to the OLG Zweibrücken (3 W 50/93). On the other hand, the owners’ meeting may not permit unrestricted barbecuing on the balconies by majority resolution. That decided the regional court Duesseldorf (25 T 435/90). However, there are no time limits in the law.
The decisions of the courts are very different, so that no generally applicable rule can be derived from them as to how often one may barbecue per year. But even if barbecuing is permitted, it must not be too loud. The Oldenburg Higher Regional Court has ruled on this (13 U 53/02): After 10 p.m., neighbors do not have to put up with any smells or noises when barbecuing. Four times a year, however, a barbecue may be extended until midnight on special occasions. This is also a case-by-case decision. So better not to be too loud if this could disturb the neighbors. How often one may barbecue and disturb the neighbors must be judged very individually, and it always depends on the individual case.
Conclusion on barbecuing on the balcony
For peaceful coexistence, it is recommended to grill carefully. If you use an electric grill and aluminum trays or such utensils instead of a charcoal grill, you can largely avoid smoke and smoke nuisance. If you have planned a barbecue, you should inform the neighbors in good time and possibly also invite them to the barbecue. Even if they do not accept the invitation, this at least increases the chance that they will not complain. Celebrating parties is not forbidden, of course, but here too you should be as considerate as possible of your neighbors. After 10 p.m., only quiet parties are allowed on the balcony, terrace and garden. It is best to move the party into the apartment and continue celebrating at room volume.