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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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VIENNA

What makes Vienna the ‘most liveable city’ and where can it improve?

Vienna is once again at the top of the global liveability index, but what does it mean and where can Austria's capital still improve?

What makes Vienna the 'most liveable city' and where can it improve?

The Austrian capital city of Vienna made a comeback as the world’s most liveable city after it tumbled down to 34th place due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Now, Vienna tops a ranking dominated by Western European cities, and it scores highly in nearly all criteria, including stability, healthcare, education, and infrastructure, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

READ ALSO: Vienna returns to top ranking as world’s ‘most liveable city

What does each of these points mean and in which areas is the city still not the best?

The liveability score is reached through category weights, each divided into subcategories. The indicators are then scored based on either judgement of “in-house expert geography analysts and a field correspondent based in each city” for qualitative variables.

In the case of quantitative variables, the rating is calculated based on the relative performance of a location using external data, such as information from the World Bank or Transparency International, for example.

Karlskirche, or St. Charles Church, in Vienna (Copyright: © WienTourismus/Christian Stemper)

Stability

Vienna got a 100 percent score in this category, which is measured based on several indicators. The EIU rating evaluated the prevalence of petty crime and of violent crime. It also looked into the threat of terrorism, military conflict, and civil unrest threats.

Healthcare

This was another category Austria’s capital aced – and an improvement from the pandemic years, when it lost points on healthcare.

READ ALSO: Ten essential apps to download for living in Vienna

The rating considers the availability and quality of both private and public healthcare. It also looks into the availability of over-the-counter drugs and general healthcare indicators provided by the World Bank.

Education

Vienna got a total of 100 points for this category, which considered the availability and quality of private education and looked into World Bank data on public education indicators.

Infrastructure

Another 100 percent for Austria’s capital which was found to have a good quality of road network, public transport, international links, energy provision, water provision and telecommunications. The ranking also considered the availability of good-quality housing.

Theater in Vienna (© WienTourismus/Paul Bauer)

Culture & Environment

This was the only category where Vienna did not get 100 points. Instead, it scored 96.3, which was still higher than many of the top ten cities. Vancouver, Canada, was the only city at the top of the ranking that got a 100. Melbourne and Amsterdam also fared slightly better than Vienna.

READ ALSO: ​​The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

The category looks into humidity and temperature rating, the discomfort of climate for travellers, level of corruption, social or religious restrictions, level of censorship, sporting availability, cultural availability, food and drink, and consumer goods and services.

Among all of these indicators, only the humidity/temperature rating, which is adapted from average weather conditions, didn’t receive the highest grade.

What can Vienna do to get better?

Even in the indicators where the Austrian capital did well, there are always things to improve, especially concerning the risks to the quality of living that rising inflation and the Ukrainian war bring.

When it comes to weather, though the city cannot control when it rains or shines, there are many things it can do to improve living conditions on those scorching summer days or freezing winter evenings.

READ ALSO: ‘Cool streets’: How Vienna is preparing for climate change and heatwaves

As summer and heatwaves arrive, it is already looking to bring more green areas and avoid “heat islands” building up in the city centre. It also has built fog showers, drinking fountains and increased offers of “cool” areas where people can escape the extreme heat.

Also, looking to reduce the use of cars and make life better for residents, Vienna is betting on the “15-minute city” concept. This means that Austria’s capital is trying to make the essential everyday routes and destinations, including metro stations, reachable by a 15-minute walk.

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