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Nachtruhe: Which night time chores can get you fined in Germany?

Rachel Stern
Rachel Stern - [email protected]
Nachtruhe: Which night time chores can get you fined in Germany?
It's best to save that project that requires loud drilling for the morning. Photo: Thijs van der Weide/Unsplash

Tempted to turn on the washing machine or hammer in just one more nail to that cabinet in your German apartment? Make sure you check the clock (or calendar) first.

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If you're a night owl in Germany, it might serve you well for partying into the wee hours at clubs in Cologne or Berlin.

But it certainly won't win you any plus points with your neighbours. In fact, if you're keen on using your evening energy to mow your lawn or even vacuum your flat past 10 pm, you could be slapped with a heavy fine.

In Germany, there are numerous regulations to uphold the Nachtruhe (night time peace and quiet). If you break them, you could get at best an angry knock from your neighbours to a Bußgeld (fine) of several thousand euros.

We break down the top, often inadvertent offences you can commit in and around your own four walls in the late night and early morning hours.

First, here are the following rest periods to abide by in the Bundesrepublik:

  • On Sundays and public holidays, the rest period (Ruhezeit) applies all day.
  • From Monday to Saturday, Nachtruhe applies from 10 pm to 6 am.
  • Some municipalities may enact their own regulations, which may stipulate a midday rest period.

READ ALSO: Ruhezeit: What you need to know about quiet time in Germany

When is hammering and drilling strictly verboten?

Hard-hats, hammers and nails at a university in Thuringia

Hard-hats, hammers and nails at a university in Thuringia. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Martin Schutt

Especially in residential areas, noisy manual work such as drilling or hammering after 10 pm can be considered a noise nuisance.

Loud manual work should therefore always be carried out during the day or at the permitted times. In serious cases, fines of up to €5,000 may be imposed.

Am I allowed to turn on the dishwasher or washing machine at night?

In principle, it is permitted to run the dishwasher or washing machine after 10 pm as long as the appliances do not cause excessive noise. Modern appliances are often designed to operate relatively quietly and do not have a loud spin or rinse cycle.

However, if you have an older appliance with a particularly loud spin or rinse cycle, you probably will want to show consideration for your neighbours and not operate loud household appliances during the late evening and night hours.

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What about mowing your lawn in the evening?

You may be restricted from mowing your lawn on Sundays and at night in Germany. Photo by Daniel Watson on Unsplash

This week Germany is in the midst of a late summer heat spell, with temperatures reaching over 30C. We understand the temptation to mow your lawn late at night when it’s still cool out, but it’s still not a good idea to do so past 10 pm. This is because the mowers produce a noise level of 78 to 96 decibels and could disturb your neighbours.

Although there are devices with an eco-label that are quieter, they may only be used on weekdays from 7 am to 8 pm. 

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After 10 pm and on Sundays and public holidays, noisy gardening is strictly taboo and can be punished with a fine of up to €50,000.

What about just a good 'ol party?

If you're quite literally downing your tools to kick back and relax with a beer in your Hof in the late hours, that's usually okay if you give your neighbours advance warning.

In Germany, we recommend posting a notice in the common areas a week before giving advance warning that things could get a little louder unless you don't also want to count the Polizei among your visitors.

READ ALSO: It's legal to trim your neighbour's tree (even if he doesn't want you to), Germany's highest court rules

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