Is it Illegal to Have BBQ Smoke Leave Your Property?

When thinking about backyard BBQ etiquette, you might wonder if it is illegal to have BBQ smoke leave your property. Barbeque smoke can easily be carried away by the wind and the smell can permeate the houses of your neighbors especially if the windows are open. Before you start planning your BBQ party, it is important to know the rules and regulations in your area regarding grilling.

Is it illegal to have BBQ smoke leave your property? It is not illegal to have BBQ smoke leave your property, but your neighbors can consider it a nuisance and file a complaint. If you are having BBQ several times a week, or if the smoke persists for a long time and drifts into their house which is a nuisance, they can sue or have you cited. You need to consider your neighbors and make sure that your BBQ party is not a nuisance to them.

How far away should the barbecue be from the house? Can your neighbors complain about BBQ? How to grill safely at home? These are some of the questions that we will talk about in this article. Having a BBQ party is fun, but make sure that you are not being a nuisance to your neighbor. Place the BBQ grill at a place where it is safe and wind-free.

Is it illegal to have BBQ smoke leave your property
Image by tookapic from Pixabay

Is Open Fire and Barbecuing Against the Law?

You have the right to BBQ in your garden or backyard. On the other hand, if you are in doubt, you can always double-check the rules and regulations in your municipality. There is no question of a ban when it comes to lighting fire for cooking purposes as long as it does not create a fire hazard for the environment, like having it in your garden and not in public places where this is prohibited.

How Far Away Should the Barbecue be from the House?

Regardless you have a charcoal or gas grill, make sure to place it at least 10 feet away from any structures around your home. Before you start the BBQ, consider the best place to have it in your backyard or garden. The BBQ grill should be placed on a stable surface. You also need to determine the wind direction and make sure that the smoke will not blow towards your neighbors. Do not place the griller under the party tent and keep it away from any combustible objects to avoid the risk of fire and nuisance from smoke. It is best to place the griller under the canopy or in a shaded area where it is wind-free.

How to Grill Safely at Home

Checking your city code, your lease or condo association, and your HOA are some of the safety measures that you can do before having a BBQ. Below are safety tips to guide you through the grilling process. Make sure that you follow guidelines so that you have a fun and safe BBQ without being a nuisance to your neighbors. You can also check out this article titled, are smokeless grills healthy? We have discussed the pros and cons that you can get from using a smokeless grill.

Double Check Your Condo or Lease Association

Before you start a BBQ outside your home, check the fine print of your condo and lease contract as they may contain specific barbecue restrictions that you need to follow. For instance, using propane is not allowed for those who are living in an apartment because city gas codes state that you cannot store standard propane cylinders in the backyard, roof deck, balcony, courtyard, or roof deck. Natural gas grills are allowed, but they must be made for residential use. Furthermore, gas lines should be installed by a licensed master plumber.

Verify with Your City Code

Fire codes in most major cities require that grills should be placed at a minimum of 10 feet from anything that can catch fire which includes building walls. Most charcoal and wood-fired grilling on balconies or fire escapes are also ruled out in such codes. Take note that the city and county air pollution codes can also come into play if your BBQ emits harmful smoke and odors.

Get in Touch with Your HOA

Another thing that you need to check before starting a BBQ is your HOA. The homeowner associations are strict when it comes to barbecue grill enforcement. For instance, wood-deck grilling is a fire hazard and affects the insurability of the community. Make sure to check your governing documents which include the rules and regulations section to determine if your association allows grilling on balconies, decks, or patios.

Can Neighbors Complain about BBQ?

Your neighbors can complain about BBQ smoke if they deemed it a nuisance. The action taken will have to depend on where you live. This is because any laws that would apply would be local laws, HOA, or condo board rules. Things like a constant offensive smell could be considered a nuisance in some states. To stop the activity, the person affected can bring suit for an injunction against the neighbor. Moreover, they can claim any damages caused by the nuisance.

✅ Video – Neighbor Upset about BBQ Smoke

WFLA News Channel 8 shared the video below on YouTube. It talks about a dispute between two neighbors over BBQ smoke. The neighbor has already complained more than 15 times and has already filed a lawsuit which states that the smoke is a hazard to her health. Check out the video below for more information.

Is it Illegal to Have a BBQ in Your Garden?

It is not illegal to have BBQ in your garden but make sure that you consider safety rules and that your BBQ is not a nuisance to your neighbors. You need to take note of several things when planning a barbecue in your garden which include the following below.

The Fumes

Cooking fumes should be extracted through ducts, so it is assumed that smoke could not be generated without safely removing them. Because you are grilling outdoors, barbecue smoke will be carried by the wind in whatever direction it goes. This can be annoying for neighbors who may have their bedrooms or living areas nearby. Hence, you need to consider the fumes that come from your BBQ grill to make sure that it is not being a nuisance.


Another thing that you need to consider is the fire. A barbecue gives off sparks that are a permanent source of fire and can endanger any structures near it. Make sure that you place your grill away from structures. It is also wise to have a fire extinguisher ready.

Can I Have a BBQ Indoors?

You can BBQ indoors, but make sure that you are safe when grilling. Take note that it is not safe to use an outdoor grill for indoor grilling. This is because gas or charcoal grills are designed to emit fumes and gases that need to be dispersed to the air. On the other hand, if you would like to grill indoors, we have shared tips that you need to know so you can grill safely. Take a look at these tips below.

Use an Electric Grill or Grill Pan

When grilling indoors, it is recommended that you use an electric grill or grill pan. They are a wise investment because they provide a similar charred taste without having to fire up charcoal or heat up the grill. These types of grills do not emit any fumes that may endanger your health and linger inside your home.

Use Briquettes

The best kind of charcoal that you can use for indoor grilling is briquettes. They are made with coconut husks and do not emit a lot of smoke. Because of this, briquettes are also called smokeless charcoal. They are ideal if you are using a traditional grill when grilling indoors.

How Far Should a Grill be From a Fence?

When grilling, you need to be at least ten feet away from any structures. This way, you will not risk starting a fire. Make sure that you provide ample space between the grill and any structure around you. We have also shared this article titled, does BBQ smoke kill? Check out the article to find out the possible dangers that come from BBQ smoke.

Is it Safe to BBQ on a Balcony?

It is safe to BBQ on a balcony provided that the balcony, overhang, deck, and adjacent walls are noncombustible. It is also considered safe if the balcony is protected overhead by an automatic fire sprinkler system. We have also shared this article that discusses if you can burn pellets in a fire pit. Check out the article for more information about the topic.


In this article, we have discussed if it is illegal to have BBQ smoke leave your property. We have found out that while it is not illegal for smoke to leave your property, you need to make sure that it is not being a nuisance to your neighbors. When setting up your grill, you need to consider the space around it. If you lit the grill too close to a structure, it can cause a fire. Aside from the dangers of accidental fire, incorrect placement of the grill can leave scorch marks on the garden, cause damage to your property, or be a nuisance to your neighbors.

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