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.

Horizontal Property Act on having barbecues

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 Horizonal Property Act, 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.

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.

In some cases, community statutes may include specific rules, for example, prohibiting the use of certain types of fuels or limiting the hours allowed for their use. In other cases, communities may decide to establish temporary rules for the use of barbecues, such as limiting the number of times they can be used or requiring a prior reservation.

If a neighbour complains about the smells, smoke or dirt caused by barbecuing and refers to Article 7.2 of the Horizontal 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.

Safety measures

If the community allows the use of barbecues in communal areas, it is important to take safety measures to minimise the risk of fire and injury. This includes having a safe distance between the barbecue and other objects, such as furniture and plants, and ensuring that the barbecue is placed on a stable, fire-resistant surface.

Barbecues on private terraces and indoor patios

Barbecues on private terraces and indoor patios in neighbourhood communities can be a very enjoyable and social activity for residents. However, hosting them may be subject to certain limitations and regulations.

First of all, you must check:

  • If there are specific rules that may include restrictions on the type of fuel that can be used or the hours allowed for their use.
  • Community statutes and existing regulations before planning any barbecue activities.

Article 7.2 of the CPA establishes that owners have the right to carry out any activity in their homes and premises that is not prohibited by the statutes or by law. However, it also specifies that these activities may not cause damage to communal elements or harm the safety, peace and health of other owners.

It is important to be aware of the smoke that a barbecue produces, especially if it is on a terrace or indoor patio, where the smoke may be more difficult to clear. To avoid disturbing neighbours, it is important to keep the barbecue away from communal areas and areas close to other residents’ windows.

We recommend you read: When are we allowed to make noise at home?

Case law is generally lenient on the use of barbecues, as it is considered to be a widespread activity and most people are willing to accept the possible inconvenience it may cause. Therefore, courts often do not consider this to be a nuisance or dangerous in communities, especially as it is done occasionally and any harm caused should be tolerated and considered as an isolated event.

Regulation through 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 you read: Problems with neighbours, how to solve them?

Regulation through Municipal Ordinances

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.

 Regulations on barbecues 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 horizontal 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 ground 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.

As you can see, if you want to have a barbecue in your community of property owners and you’re not sure whether this is allowed or not, you should consult the statutes and municipal ordinances.

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