Barbecues in communities, everything you need to know

Uso barbacoa en la Comunidad de Propietarios

With the arrival of warm and good weather, outdoor barbecues are the perfect excuse to get together with family and friends. The truth is that whether it’s in the garden in your home or in the garden of the community, a barbecue is something that can cause conflicts with your neighbours. Cristina, a homeowner with Mediterráneo checked with her property administrators Mediterráneo to find out if her neighbours can stop her from having a barbecue in the garden. In today’s article and considering the law, we’ll tell you all you need to know.

(Updated on 1 July 2021)

Community Property Act

First of all you should know that there’s no specific law prohibiting the use of barbecues (except in the Community of Madrid) unless it’s regulated in Statutes of the community. However, in article 7.2 of the Community Property Act (Ley de Propiedad Horizontal), there’s a prohibition on the carrying out of irritating or unhealthy activities in which barbecues may be included.

It reads:

The owner or occupier of the flat or venue is not permitted to carry out, in it or in the rest of the property, activities which are prohibited under the statutes, which are harmful to the property or that contravene the general provisions on activities that are classified as irritating, unhealthy, harmful, dangerous or illegal.

Therefore, as a general rule, having a barbecue in a private garden or in a communal area in your urbanisation shouldn’t be a problem as long as it doesn’t disturb the normal coexistence of the community and is done sensibly.

Specific regulations in the Community of Madrid

If you live in Madrid you should know that new regulations have recently been introduced for the use of barbecues following the publication of the new Ordinance 4/2021, of 30 March, on Air Quality and Sustainability approved by the Plenary of the Madrid City Council and published in the BOCM on 16 April 2021. Art. 33, although it doesn’t specifically regulate the use of barbecues, can be taken as a reference for the use of these elements.

 Cooking or preparation of food in outdoor environments likely to produce emissions that cause disturbances. “When these activities are carried out in buildings of properties in a community property regime involving flats, they should be located at least 5 metres away from the nearest point of any external openings located at the same level or higher, in order to avoid disturbing neighbours. In any case, there should be a minimum distance of 3 metres between the source of fire and any flammable element. The distance shall be measured in a straight line without obstacles and where there are obstacles, by adding the segments to the distance”.

5 metres away

Therefore, in the Community of Madrid the use of barbecues must be at least 5 metres from any window present on the same floor or on upper floors.

In order to comply with this 5-metre distance, it will be virtually impossible to comply with it on middle floors, so barbecues will not be allowed on the terraces or balconies of these floors.

Therefore, they can only be used in 2 places:

Penthouse terraces

  • One of them would be on penthouse terraces, where, as there are no windows above, only the distances to adjacent windows must be respected.

Patios on the lower floors

  • The other area would be in the patios on the ground floor. However, it will be more difficult to maintain the required distances in this area as there will be windows at the sides and above, so it won’t always be possible to have barbecues without breaching the current regulations.

As explained above, this regulation is only applicable in the Community of Madrid.

Barbecues in communal areas

If there is no express prohibition on the use of barbecues in the statutes, residents can enjoy a barbecue without any problems.

If a neighbour complains about the smells, smoke or dirt caused by barbecuing and refers to article 7.2 of the Community Property Act, which, as we have said above, refers to activities that are a disturbance or dangerous for the community, case law tends to be lenient in these cases as it considers their use to be widespread, the disturbance to be occasional and sporadic and should therefore be tolerated by the owners.

Community Statutes

If you are bothered by the use of barbecues, we recommend that it should be regulated in the Community Statutes, through an internal rule (approved by the majority), so that all the neighbours feel respected. The community statutes are the only things that can limit or prohibit any activity carried out in a private element or area.

Ultimately, regarding the use of barbecues, the potential disturbances (and benefits) of living in a community are accepted. There’s an emphasis on the principles of reasonableness and tolerance.

We recommend: Problems with neighbours, how to solve them?

Municipal ordinance

Some ordinances may prohibit the use of barbecues on terraces for fire prevention reasons. Electric or gas barbecues are allowed, however.

The assistance of your Property Administrators Mediterráneo will be crucial to advise you and avoid possible disputes with your neighbours.

We recommend: Neighbourhood mediation to resolve disputes in the Community

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