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Reader question: Can I have a barbecue on my balcony in Germany?

Grilling is a popular pastime in the summer in Germany. But can it take place on your balcony?

Reader question: Can I have a barbecue on my balcony in Germany?
Archive photo shows a BBQ in Gotha, Thuringia. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Michael Reichel

Germany has previously been named the grilling world champion, according to a study by Focus Media in 2011.

However, not all of us are lucky enough to have a sprawling garden and, especially in cities like Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich, balconies are generally considered a good substitute. 

READ ALSO: Eight signs that summer has arrived in Germany

The question of whether barbecuing on your balcony is verboten, however, is a trickier one.

According to the German Tenant’s Association (DMB) barbecuing on balconies of rented apartments is, in general, permitted. The DMB states that it does not matter in this context whether the barbecue is on the balcony, the terrace or in the garden.

This is, however, not an excuse to grill away, as the law contains some circumstances in which barbecues are not allowed at home. In general, a fireplace on the balcony without a grill is not allowed, and all open fires must be avoided.

Apart from this there are a few particularities that determine whether it’s safe to break open the Spargel.

Contract dependent

Tenants who have signed an agreement in which barbecuing is expressly forbidden are unfortunately not allowed to barbecue on their rented property.

The landlord has the right to include this clause in the rental contract according to a ruling of the Regional Court of Essen (10 S 438/01).

Those who use a barbecue despite this contract ban can even be threatened with immediate dismissal from their property.

Mind the smoke

Regardless of the rental agreement, all neighbours are protected from being disturbed and, in a barbecuing scenario, that means they have the right to be safe from excessive smoke.

In the very worst-case tenants wouldn’t be evicted, but could face a fine under the Emission Control Act. This act naturally applies to both tenants and homeowners.

Photo: DPA

How much smoke is too much?

This generally depends on the exchange you have with your neighbours. Technically, you or your neighbours can take legal action against each other for an excessive amount of smoke emanating from the other’s barbecue.

Take our advice and use an electric grill. Alternatively, warn your neighbours beforehand or invite them over to enjoy the barbecue to avoid major disagreements.

Federal peculiarities

Whilst your rental agreement and house rules are paramount in deciding whether you can have a barbecue on your balcony this summer, the rules aren’t uniform across Germany.

In Bavaria, barbecue lovers are only allowed to use their gardens for a barbecue up to five times a year. Stuttgart only allows barbecuing on the terrace three times a year, or for a total of six hours.

READ ALSO: Why we love Germany’s sweet summer snacks

In Bonn, barbecue fans are permitted to grill on their terrace or balcony once a month if neighbours are warned in advance. In Hamburg, barbecuing on the balcony with charcoal is totally prohibited.

Put simply, a barbecue on your balcony is allowed in Germany provided you don’t smoke out your neighbours. Be careful though, as your rental contract could potentially include your agreement to not have a barbecue on your private property and put you at risk of eviction.

On top of that, check what your particular region has to say before you start setting up a daily barbecue.

Member comments

  1. The article begs the question . . . why not an extractor/filter hood? If you can have one in your kitchen, then why not install one on the balcony?

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RENTING

Everything you should know about renting a furnished flat in Germany

Furnished properties are increasingly popular in Germany - but it's worth knowing the rules around them to make sure you don't get overcharged. Here's everything you need to know before signing the contract on a furnished flat.

Everything you should know about renting a furnished flat in Germany

For someone moving to a new country or city, it seems like a dream scenario: you find a new place, pick up the key, and simply move in and unpack. Everything you need, from your bed to your coffee table, is already there waiting for you. 

You can dispense with the endless trawls through IKEA showrooms and trips across town to pick up second-hand furniture on Ebay Kleinanzeigen – not to mention the stress of endless decisions on colour schemes and measurements. 

It’s exactly this that makes furnished flats such a popular choice with foreigners. While they may not be a long-term option, the ease and flexibility of being able to move-in straight away makes them a great short- or medium-term option while you’re finding your feet in a city.

So, what’s the catch? 

A search for furnished flats on any rental property portal will reveal all. 

For around 30 square metres in Hamburg – the size of a large hotel room – it’s not unusual to see prices of around €2,700 or more per month, which amounts to a pretty hefty €90 per square metre. In Berlin, €3,000 per month may well be the price you pay for a tiny studio in a central location: €100 per square metre.

In the banking hub of Frankfurt, things are marginally more affordable. Here, a 30-square-metre furnished flat will set you back around €1,500. But that’s still a pretty steep €50 per square metre. 

Listings like these can give the impression that landlords are allowed to charge whatever they please for a furnished property. Thankfully, that’s not true – though the rules can get a little bit murky, especially when it comes to short-term lets.

READ ALSO: Six confusing things about renting a flat in Germany

Here’s a few other things you need to know. 

What is a furnished flat?

If a flat is rented as a furnished flat, it should have at least the bare essentials that are required to live in it. Generally, that would mean a bed, wardrobe, table, chairs and sofa, etc. 

However, you can occasionally find furnished flats that are “löffelfertig” (spoon-ready), which as the name suggests means they have everything you need, right down to cutlery and crockery. 

Why are furnished flats more expensive?

Generally speaking, landlords are entitled to compensation for the furniture they buy for the property, which can push the monthly rent up by as much as a few hundred euros per month. 

Since they don’t have to be clear about these costs and how different parts of the rent are calculated, some landlords may inflate the base rent as well, meaning that tenants may end up paying way over the odds. 

It’s also worth knowing that if properties are specifically defined as either holiday or short-term lets, landlords are exempt from many of the usual rent controls. 

Furnished holiday flat Germany

A modern furnished flat in Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Bades Huk | BRITA SOENNICHSEN

If the furnished flat is considered to be a holiday let, then the tenant is often required to pay tourist tax for each night they stay there. In this case, the flat also doesn’t have to be furnished to a particularly high standard as it is only intended to be lived in for a very short time. You may find this type of flat absurdly pricey compared to normal rentals in the city, and if money is a concern it’s best to steer clear of holiday lets for longer-term stays. 

If you work in the city and are staying somewhere for more than two months, the landlord may decide to class the property as a temporary let. In this case, the landlord is exempted from clauses like the Mietpreisbremse (rent brake), which are designed to slow down the rate of rent increases, and you should have a clear duration or move-out date specified in your contract.  

It’s important to note that the landlord will usually have to give a good reason for restricting the time period of the rental. This could be the fact that they or their family want to use it themselves or are planning renovations at a later date. 

READ ALSO: Altbau vs Neubau: What’s the difference and which should I rent in Germany?

How much more can my landlord charge?

As mentioned above, holiday and temporary flats can often be rented out for eye-watering prices – but there are strict rules on categorising a rental flat as temporary or holiday accommodation.

For an ordinary furnished rental, the rent should usually be roughly based on standard prices for similar properties in the same area (a system known as the Mietspiegel), with any premium features or fixtures adding slightly more to the monthly rent. As mentioned above, the landlord can also charge a surplus for the furnishings they include in the flat.

The broad rule of thumb here is that this should be linked to the value of the furniture and its depreciation in value of the course of time. Though landlords aren’t forced to be transparent about the system they use, the two most commonly used ones are the Hamburg and the Berlin model. 

Furnished flat

A cosy bedroom in a furnished flat. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/VDM | Rauch

With the Berlin model, the landlord is allowed to charge two percent of the total value of the furniture each month.

The furniture is assumed to have a lifespan of 10 years, so if the furniture is new when the tenant moves in, they can charge two percent of the purchase price of the furniture each month. If all the furniture in a flat cost the landlord €5,000, that would amount to €100 extra in rent each month. The value of the furniture goes down by ten percent per year, so after five years the landlord would charge €50 per month on top of rent, and after ten there would be no surcharge.

The Hamburg model assumes that furniture goes down in value over the course of seven years, after which time it’s worth just 30 percent of its purchase price. The amount that the tenant pays towards the cost of the furnishings each year is based on these calculations.

READ ALSO: 

Can I take furniture out of a furnished flat?

Yes! If you’re someone who likes to put your own stamp on a place, then you’re fully entitled to replace some of the furniture with your own.

But – and this is a big ‘but’ – you’ll be responsible for storing the furniture safely until you move out, and putting everything back in its previous place.

In other words, we don’t recommend chucking the coffee table out on the street with a ‘Zu verschenken’ label before moving in your own piece. We guarantee your landlord will not be amused once they find out. 

To clarify what’s meant to be in the flat when you move in (and when you move out), tenancy law experts recommend having a full inventory in the contract. That should help you avoid any nasty disputes in the future.

What if the furniture is damaged, missing or defective? 

If furniture is damaged, missing or unusable, you’re entitled to have it repaired or replaced and can also ask for a rent reduction.

Once again, it’s useful to have a full inventory of what should be in the flat to help you with these negotiations.

Do tenants in furnished flats have the same rights as other tenants?

Generally, yes. Having furnishings inside a property doesn’t change the legal status of the contract.

That means that your landlord can’t, for example, suddenly ask you to move out at short notice and without any cause. As mentioned, they also need to have a specific reason for limiting the duration of your contract – otherwise the move-out date isn’t valid. 

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