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Barbecuing on the balcony: what is allowed?

Barbecuing is one of the most popular leisure activities in Germany, especially in the warm summer months. But while a juicy steak or grilled vegetables sizzle on the grill, the associated smoke and smells can quickly lead to tensions with the neighbors. Particularly in urban residential areas, where balconies are often close together, the question arises as to whether and how you are allowed to barbecue on the balcony.

Table of contents
Barbecuing on the balcony: allowed or forbidden?
The Immission Control Act
Charcoal, electric or gas barbecue on the balcony?
How often can you barbecue on the balcony?
Smoke-free barbecuing: Tips for minimizing smoke
Tips for barbecuing on the balcony
Neighborly harmony: avoiding and resolving conflicts
Barbecuing in the park: follow the rules and regulations

Barbecuing on the balcony: allowed or forbidden?

Barbecuing on the balcony is generally permitted in Germany as long as it does not cause any significant nuisance to neighbors. A significant nuisance can be caused in particular by heavy smoke, which is prohibited. If this rule is disregarded, there is a risk of fines, warnings or, in extreme cases, even termination of the tenancy agreement. Disputes in this area often concern the right to free development, protection of personality and property, tenancy law, neighbor law or immission control law.

Barbecuing on the balcony is generally permitted, as there is no general regulation in Germany that prohibits this. Property owners may use their property, including the balcony, as they wish. However, they must show consideration for their neighbors. This means that neighbors must tolerate barbecues as long as they are not significantly affected by them.

The Immission Control Act

Barbecuing over an open fire is prohibited on balconies, however, as there is an increased risk of fire. Bonfires or open fire barrels are therefore not permitted on balconies in any case. Charcoal barbecues often produce a lot of smoke and soot, which can exceed the permitted limits and therefore violate the Immission Control Act. Clouds of smoke can penetrate into the living rooms of neighbors and disturb them considerably. If neighbors perceive the smoke as a major nuisance and report it as an administrative offense, this can lead to high fines.

Charcoal, electric or gas barbecue on the balcony? Which barbecue is best on the balcony?

A charcoal barbecue is still the most popular barbecue in Germany, but to avoid disputes with neighbors, alternative barbecue types are more advisable. Gas barbecues are ideal for the balcony as they cause minimal smoke and odor nuisance. Although they are not quite comparable to charcoal barbecues in terms of taste and price, they are the better choice for harmonious coexistence.

Electric barbecues are another good and inexpensive alternative. They also produce little smoke and can even be used indoors if the tenancy agreement does not permit barbecuing on the balcony. The use of aluminum foil or barbecue trays can further reduce the amount of smoke produced.

Although all types of barbecue - charcoal, gas and electric - are permitted on the balcony, it is better to use gas or electric barbecues for the sake of the neighbors. These produce significantly less smoke and odors than charcoal barbecues. Compact tabletop barbecues or small barbecue stations are ideal for small balconies.

Here is an overview of the different barbecue models and their suitability for barbecuing on the balcony:

Electric barbecue

  • Ideal for the balcony: Smoke-free and low odor development.
  • Safe operation: No embers and no naked flames.
  • Versatile sizes: Models available in different sizes.

Gas barbecue

  • Low smoke and odor development: Very suitable for the balcony.
  • Space-saving models: Large selection of compact models.

Charcoal barbecue

  • High smoke development: Less suitable for the balcony.
  • Legal risk: Danger of violating pollution control regulations.

How often can you barbecue on the balcony?

The frequency of barbecuing on the balcony or terrace is not clearly regulated by law, and different courts therefore come to different conclusions. These very different rulings show that weighing up the interests of neighbors plays an important role. Other factors must also be taken into account when making a decision, such as the location of the barbecue. It should be set up as far away from the neighbors as possible. The location of the barbecue - whether balcony, garden, detached house or apartment building - is also relevant, as are the amount of smoke and odor nuisance, the type of barbecue, the house rules and local custom. Sometimes there are even specific agreements between neighbors.

Overall, there is no general answer to the question of how often you are allowed to barbecue on your own balcony. It usually only becomes relevant if neighbors feel disturbed and complain. In such cases, the court will decide on an individual basis whether the frequency of barbecuing is permissible or whether it violates the neighborly principle of consideration. The assessment of such cases varies greatly depending on the court and the specific circumstances of the individual case.

Smoke-free barbecuing: Tips for minimizing smoke

Smoke from barbecues can quickly lead to conflicts with neighbors. Here are some tips on how to minimize smoke:

Lighting the charcoal barbecue

If barbecuing with a charcoal barbecue is permitted, you should pay attention to certain things when lighting and using fuel to reduce the amount of smoke produced:

  • Use low-smoke charcoal or barbecue briquettes: The quality of the charcoal plays a decisive role in smoke development. High-quality charcoal produces less smoke. Make sure that the charcoal is stored in a dry place, as moist charcoal produces more smoke. Alternatively, you can use barbecue briquettes that burn with particularly little smoke, such as coconut briquettes.
  • Light correctly: Use lighting aids that ensure clean and low-smoke combustion. Avoid paper or other materials that can cause a lot of smoke.
  • Electricity or gas instead of charcoal: Consider switching to an electric barbecue or a gas barbecue. Both alternatives produce significantly less smoke and are therefore more suitable for barbecuing on the balcony. Gas barbecues with handy gas cartridges are particularly practical and produce hardly any smoke.
  • Using grill plates and aluminum trays: A common cause of smoke is marinade or fat dripping into the embers. To prevent this, you can use grill plates or aluminum trays. These catch the dripping fat and thus prevent smoke from forming.

By following these tips, you can significantly reduce the amount of smoke produced when barbecuing on the balcony and thus avoid potential conflicts with your neighbors.

Tips for barbecuing on the balcony

In addition to the legal regulations, it is important to observe a few safety measures to make barbecuing on the balcony safe and enjoyable. There are specific sources of danger, particularly due to the often limited space on balconies. If you take the following tips to heart, you can protect yourself and others and ensure that barbecuing on the balcony is an enjoyable and safe experience for everyone involved:

  • Never leave a barbecue unattended: An unattended barbecue can quickly become a hazard. Make sure there is always someone nearby who can keep an eye on the barbecue.
  • Set up the barbecue safely: Place the barbecue on a stable, level surface to prevent it from tipping over. Make sure that the barbecue is not too close to house walls, railings or other objects.
  • Keep easily flammable materials away: Make sure that highly flammable materials such as napkins, tablecloths or clothing do not get near the barbecue. Also keep flammable liquids away.
  • Provide extinguishing agents: In the event of a fire, you should always have suitable extinguishing agents nearby. This includes a fire extinguisher, buckets of water, sand and a fire blanket.
  • Wind protection: In windy weather, there is a risk of flying sparks or smoke development. Use a windbreak or choose a sheltered spot on the balcony.
  • Clean the barbecue: Regular cleaning of the barbecue prevents the build-up of grease and food residue, which can lead to heavy smoke or even a grease fire the next time you barbecue.
  • Minimize smoke development: Use low-smoke fuels and avoid dripping fat into the embers. Use grill plates or aluminum trays to prevent this.
  • Light and extinguish safely: Use suitable lighting aids and make sure to extinguish the barbecue completely after use. Allow the ashes to cool completely before disposing of them.

By observing these safety measures, you can minimize the risk of accidents and disputes with neighbors and ensure that your barbecue evening on the balcony is a complete success.

Neighborly harmony: avoid and resolve conflicts

With these tips, barbecuing on the balcony will also be bearable for your neighbors - or even a shared pleasure:

  • Early information: inform your neighbors about your barbecue plans well in advance. A brief conversation or a small note in the stairwell can go a long way and avoid misunderstandings.
  • Invitation to a barbecue: Simply invite your neighbors to a barbecue on your balcony. A personal encounter can often help to avoid neighborhood disputes and ensure better understanding.
  • Weekend barbecues: If you're planning to barbecue for longer, choose a day at the weekend instead. This will prevent neighbors who have to work the next day from feeling disturbed.
  • Respecting the night's rest: The legal night's rest applies from 10 pm. Reduce conversations and music to room volume. It is advisable to move the party indoors after this time.
  • Use an electric or gas barbecue: These types of barbecue produce much less smoke and odors than charcoal barbecues and are therefore better suited for barbecuing on the balcony. More on this in the next chapter.
  • High-quality briquettes for charcoal barbecues: If you still want to use a charcoal barbecue, make sure you use high-quality briquettes that produce less smoke and odors.
  • Use grill plates and aluminum trays: With a charcoal barbecue, you should use grill plates or aluminum trays so that no fat drips into the embers. This prevents strong smoke and odors.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that barbecuing on your balcony is a pleasant and conflict-free experience not only for you, but also for your neighbors.

Barbecuing in the park: follow the rules and regulations

If barbecuing on the balcony is not permitted, the park offers an attractive alternative. However, barbecuing in public parks is not always permitted and is subject to local regulations. There are usually specific barbecue regulations that only allow barbecuing in certain places and under certain conditions.

Municipal regulations

  • Permitted barbecue areas: In many cities, there are designated barbecue areas in parks. These are often marked with appropriate signs and often also offer barbecue stations or areas.
  • Specific conditions: Certain rules apply at these places, such as the use of low-smoke barbecues or bringing your own barbecue equipment. Find out in advance about the exact regulations in your city.

Safety measures

Due to the increased risk of fire, various safety measures must be observed in the park:

  • Safety distances: Maintain sufficient distances from trees, bushes and other flammable materials to minimize the risk of fire.
  • Extinguish embers thoroughly: After barbecuing, the embers must be completely extinguished. Use water or sand to ensure that no embers remain that could reignite.
  • Take extinguishing agents with you: It is advisable to always have a bucket of water or sand nearby to be able to react quickly in the event of a fire.

Further considerations

  • Waste disposal: Make sure that you dispose of your waste properly. Use the garbage bins provided or take your garbage home with you.
  • Consideration for other park visitors: Be careful not to disturb other park visitors with smoke or noise. Choose a barbecue area that is far enough away from picnic blankets and playgrounds.
  • Observe the park opening times: Stick to the park's opening hours and leave the site in good time to avoid getting into trouble with park staff or the police.

By observing these rules and instructions, you can make barbecuing in the park safe and enjoyable while being considerate of other park visitors.