Are you allowed to have a barbecue?

On hot summer days people in Germany love to have a barbecue, the only trouble is that with so many people living in flats there are laws and other rules on when you can have one and even how. Even if you do own a house, having one in your back garden can be subject to regulations!

Having a barbecue in Germany is called “Grillen”, and the supermarkets are full of charcoal, instant barbecue sets, and of course sausages, steaks, marinated chicken breasts and other things to cook such as special cheeses. Often people will also eat salad with the meat.

The main ways of cooking are either on charcoal or using an electric barbecue. Using charcoal usually tastes better, but the problem is that the smoke has a habit of going towards one’s neighbours, which can often end in arguments. To avoid this, most people who live in any form of tower block or multi-family building have rules called the Hausordnung, which are meant to govern such situations.

Sometimes this can mean giving advance notice to the neighbours, but more often than not it it just bans the use of any non-electric barbecue on the balconies.

An electric barbecue or "Grill"

An electric barbecue or "Grill"

Because of this, the rules for having a barbecue in any given street can vary from house to house or from block to block! The only real way to know what is allowed is to read the Hausordnung or sit down with your neighbours and agree with them beforehand.

After a number of cases went to court in the 1990s about these problems, most people have resorted to using electrical barbecues on their balconies, with only those with large gardens still using charcoal. It means that for many, the only time people actually eat meat cooked over a fire is on days such as Maifeiertag, Christi Himmelfahrt and Fronleichnam when many churches, clubs and organisations have their annual fetes or open days and are usually able to cook on their grounds as they wish.


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About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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