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Can I have a barbecue on my balcony in Austria?

Summer is here, making it the perfect time to grill. But are you allowed to do it - and under what circumstances can your landlord stop you?

Can I have a barbecue on my balcony in Austria?
Grilling in Austria. What are the rules? Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash

With the weather getting warmer, we’re now in peak barbecue season. 

For those lucky ducks with a big backyard in Austria, you’ve probably already cooked up a barbecue or two this year. 

The situation is different however for city dwellers or anyone with an apartment. 

Due to the high density living in many parts of Austria, there are often restrictions on what you are allowed to do – even on your own property. 

As The Local Austria reported in 2016, neighbours have successfully challenged a person’s right to smoke on their balcony. 

The consequence was a partial ban during certain times which was in fact incredibly complicated. 

The court has now come up with a set of rules as to when the man can and can’t smoke at home, depending on whether it’s winter or summer. It said smoking is not allowed on the balcony or with the windows open between 10pm and 6am and that during the summer a smoking ban should also be upheld during the usual “eating and resting times” – between 8am and 10am, midday and 3pm, and 6pm and 8pm.”

Therefore, Austrian courts will not be reluctant to restrict what you can do on your balcony – and in the most complicated way possible. 

These restrictions are not only from a legal perspective, but could be a part of your tenancy agreement. 

Does Austrian law let me grill on my balcony? 

Strictly speaking, there are no Austrian laws that prevent you from having a BBQ on your balcony. 

The major question – and what the court looked at in the above smoking example – is whether the action “goes beyond what is customary for the location”, under Section 364 (2) ABGB (Austria’s General Civil Code). 

This is the case with regard to noise, smoke, odour and other actions that can impact a neighbour’s enjoyment of their property. 

Of course, this means that it will be a question for a court to determine if there is a dispute. 

If your neighbours are fine with it, then there will be no issues. If they do have a problem however, then they can go to court and get an injunction to stop you from doing it. 

One major thing that the court will consider is whether the smoke from the BBQ enters another person’s house, i.e. it “penetrates the windows” reports Vienna Online. 

This means that while the smoke and the smell might waft across someone else’s balcony, it will only be an issue if it enters their house. 

So unless you’re grilling brontosaurus burgers day in day out, it’s unlikely that occasional barbecue activity will breach Austrian law. 

That said, if your neighbour’s grilling is becoming a problem – and nothing is being done about it – you may be entitled to ask for a rent reduction under section 1096 ABGB. You will be entitled to a reduction if the property cannot be used as contractually agreed

Can my landlord stop me from having a barbecue on my balcony? 

Another possible buzzkill will be your tenancy arrangement, which can prevent you from doing certain activities. 

READ MORE: Why do so few Austrians own their home?

If your lease agreement expressly prohibits you from barbecuing, then you need to stick to it. 

If you breach this, you may receive a formal warning or in some instances have your lease terminated. 

The latter is an extreme option, but generally these clauses are written into a tenancy agreement for a reason. 

One thing to remember is that the tenancy agreement is just that – an agreement. This means that even if you don’t know about the clause, you technically agreed to it. 

This is important because it means that a clause cannot be put in at a later time to prevent you from grilling – unless of course you agree to its inclusion. 

Some tenancy agreements will prohibit particular types of grills, i.e. charcoal or wood, while allowing others such as electric or gas barbecues. 

While the smell of your tasty sausages is going to be there nonetheless, obviously electric or gas grills will not produce smoke and will not annoy your neighbours as much. 

This is something to consider even if there are no express prohibitions. 

And even if you are restricted from some or all types of grilling, ultimately your neighbours are the ones who it will impact – and who are likely to complain. 

So if you want to give yourself the best chance of being on their good side while grilling this summer, invite them around for a Käsekrainer or two. 

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EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about recycling in Austria

Austria is keen on recycling, but the many different types of waste cans are sometimes confusing to newcomers and foreigners. Here's what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about recycling in Austria

Recycling is very much a part of Austrian culture. You will also find different bins for different waste items in almost every household in the country.

Every year, in Vienna alone, about 100,000 tons of recyclable organic material is collected in over 80,000 containers and processed into compost. This, in turn, can be collected by citizens in household quantities – so you can use your own trash to grow your plants.

Glass is also collected in separate containers, at over 2,500 public locations and at the dung places in the city. However, as they can be noisy, people should only dispose of glass waste between 6am and 10pm, according to the City of Vienna.

READ ALSO: How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Vienna legally

There are several containers throughout the cities where you can dispose of your waste. Still, it is crucial to do it right – and your neighbour will knock on your door if the things you are putting your paper together with your “common” trash.

Here are the main types of waste cans you will find in Austria – it is worth pointing out that these are based in the capital Vienna and might look a bit different depending on your region.

Waste paper

The Altpapier Karton, a red-coloured waste carton, is where you should dump your newspapers, magazines, catalogues, brochures, books, writing paper, letters, copybooks and telephone directories, as well as clean frozen food boxes, paper bags, and cardboard boxes (folded or filled with paper).

This is not a place to drop any composite materials, such as milk and beverage cartons, carbon paper, dirty papers, or receipts.

Organic waste

Also known as Biomüll, it usually has a brown colour. This is where you should throw away your lawn, tree and hedge cuttings. Weeds, shrubs, windfall, leaves, water plants, unseasoned and uncooked fruit and vegetable scraps, stale bread, coffee grounds, or tea leaves.

Organic waste disposal is no place for plastic, eco plastic bags, or eco plastic products. You should also not throw away meat, bones, food leftovers, large branches, eggs, dairy products, content from vacuum cleaner bags, cat litter, varnished or laminated wood, hazardous waste, composite materials such as nappies or milk cartons, or soil.

READ ALSO: Why does Vienna’s waste department have a helicopter and a military plane?

Clear glass

The clear glass (Weissglass) container, a grey one, will hold clear non-returnable glass bottles and pickle jars (they should be empty but not necessarily cleaned). You can also drop clear, condensed milk and soft drinks and any clear glass containers and transparent wine and liquor bottles.

Do not throw in any coloured glass, bottle caps, corks, lead seals (such as champagne bottles), screw tops, plastic bottles, mirrors, window glass, flat or wired glass, light bulbs, china, crystal glass or drinking glasses.

Coloured glass

The green container is reserved for Buntglass or coloured glass. This is where you should throw your coloured non-returnable glass bottles, such as slightly coloured glass, wine, soft drinks, and liquor bottles.

Brown and green glass can go in here together, along with other non-clear glasses. 

READ ALSO: Austria to challenge EU nuclear green label in court

Just as with the clear glass, it is essential not to throw bottle caps, corks, lead seals (such as the ones from champagne bottles), screw tops, plastic bottles, mirrors, window glass, flat or wired glass, light bulbs, china, ceramics, crystal glass or drinking glasses.

Plastic bottles, drink cartons, cans

The yellow collection container will receive any plastic bottles, drink cartons and cans (Plastikflaschen, Getränkekartons, Dosen). This includes all plastic bottles for drinks (PET bottles), for supplies such as vinegar and dairy products, detergents and household cleaners, and plastic containers for cosmetics and toiletries.

READ ALSO: Hasta la mista, baby? How to vote for your favourite Vienna trash can joke

You may also add other plastic bottles, beverage cans, food cans, metal foil, metal tubes, metal tops of jars, and bottles.

Do not turn in any plastic bottles, engine oil bottles, lubricant and adhesive bottles, plastic cups, plastic foil, plastic bags, meat trays, styrofoam, rubber foam, wood, textiles, canisters, buckets, cookware, tools, cables, wires, bathroom or kitchen taps, pipes, steel straps, paint, varnish, and spray cans, etc.

Other waste

The black box will receive all your other waste (Restmüll) and any other residual waste that shouldn’t be thrown in the recycle bins and is not hazardous or bulky.

Hazardous waste or bulky trash

It is illegal to dispose of hazardous or bulky waste in these containers. Instead, there are several collection points in Vienna and other cities where you can leave them. City services will also collect bulky waste for a small fee.

Do you have any more questions about recycling and waste separation in Austria? Get in touoch at [email protected] and we will find the answers for you.