Our clients often ask us whether they can bbq on their apartment balconies. Just because you live in an apartment does not mean you can’t enjoy grilling. New York City has strict rules about outdoor grilling on balconies and rooftops. However, it doesn’t entirely ban the practice. The rules you’ll need to follow in order to grill on your balcony or rooftop are largely based on the type of grill you will be using: propane, natural gas, charcoal, or electric. Speak with an experienced New York City real estate attorney for more information.
COOP & CONDO RULES
Before you light up your grill make sure to check if your building allows it. Most coop and condo buildings in NYC strictly prohibit grilling on the balconies and terraces.
ONE RULE THAT APPLIES TO ALL GRILLS & BARBECUES
Section 307.5.3 of the New York City Fire Code requires that your grill or BBQ be placed more than 10 feet away from anything that can easily catch fire. This includes building walls, deck surfaces, and furniture. You cannot grill inside of your apartment, fire escape, and on your balcony. (Unless your balcony is so large that you have a 10-foot clearance between the grill and the building.)
NATURAL GAS BARBECUES
This is the most popular type of grill in NYC apartment buildings. Many new apartment buildings install natural gas barbecues as an amenity for their residents. Generally, natural gas barbecues are legal to use at all residential properties in NYC but they must be installed by a New York City Licensed Master Plumber (LMP) according to the NYC Fuel Gas Code. In addition, the piping must be inspected and tested by the LMP.
This is not an option for apartment owners. Although allowed to be used in the backyards of single and two-family homes, NYC Fuel Gas Code restricts the use of propane grills in apartment buildings. For apartment buildings, it’s illegal to store a standard backyard propane barbecue on a balcony, roof deck, roof, rear yard, or courtyard. Standard propane barbecues use 20-pound liquefied petroleum gas — or LPG — containers. While propane tanks cannot be stored on roofs, you may use a propane tank that’s smaller than 16.4 ounces for a short period of time on a roof.
Electric barbecue grills are legal to install, use and maintain at residential properties. This includes balconies, terraces, roofs, or yards. But unlike regular kitchen appliances, electric grills use a substantial amount of electricity. Make sure that your outlet has an electric current sufficient to safely operate your electric grill. Extension cords should not be used unless they are approved by the grills manufacturer and are safe to use with the current required to run the grill. Otherwise, you risk starting the fire and your neighbors will definitely not appreciate that. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use the grill properly, and be sure to keep the grill at least 10 feet from anything that could catch fire.
It is legal to use charcoal barbecues on terraces and in backyards, but not on balconies and roofs. As with other types of grills, there must be a ten-foot clearance between the grill and anything that could catch fire. You must also have immediate access to a fire extinguisher or a water supply, such as a garden hose. See the NYC Fire Code §307.5.1.
|Type of Grill||Restrictions/Requirements|
|Natural gas||Must be installed by a licensed plumber according to the NYC Fuel Gas Code; piping must be inspected and tested by the plumber|
|Propane gas||Not allowed to be stored or used on balconies, roofs, or in courtyards; smaller propane tanks (less than 16.4 ounces) can be used on roofs for a short period of time|
|Electric||Must have sufficient electrical current and not use extension cords without manufacturer approval|
|Charcoal||Not allowed on balconies or roofs; must have 10-foot clearance from anything that could catch fire and immediate access to a fire extinguisher or water supply|
Can You Grill Under a Covered Patio
The regulations for grilling under a covered patio vary based on the type of grill and local rules. In New York City, grilling is permitted on balconies and rooftops, but strict regulations apply.
The rules for propane, natural gas, charcoal, and electric grills may vary. Natural gas grills are commonly used in NYC apartments and are allowed at residential properties if installed by a Licensed Master Plumber in compliance with the NYC Fuel Gas Code. Propane gas grills are not permitted in apartment buildings. Electric barbecue grills are allowed on residential balconies, terraces, roofs, or yards, but require a significant amount of electricity and safety precautions. Charcoal barbecues are permitted in backyards and terraces, but not on balconies or roofs.
Regardless of the grill type, according to Section 307.5.3 of the New York City Fire Code, the grill or BBQ must be placed at least 10 feet away from anything that could easily catch fire, such as building walls, deck surfaces, and furniture. By adhering to these regulations, you can safely enjoy your grilled meals under a covered patio without compromising your safety or that of others.
Have A Safe And Happy Fourth of July!
Written by Petro Avenue, Esq
NYC REAL ESTATE ATTORNEY
Disclosure: This is a law blog by an NYC real estate attorney. This blog is for general informational purposes only and does not express or provide a legal opinion.