23.10.2017

Barbecuing and other balcony related disputes of housing companies

This article will be published in Omakoti and Omakiinteistö magazines.

Autumn has come and the active balcony season is over. Certainly also last summer various housing companies have had quarrels about the use of the balcony.

Barbecuing on the balcony

Barbecuing is a constant cause for disputes. Can it be done and how? Can it be prohibited? From security point of view, making open fire on the balcony is forbidden, so all sorts of self-made racks and for example disposable grills are forbidden.  Charcoal grill is also forbidden.  On the other hand, electric grill is allowed. Use of a gas grill is in the gray area, but it must also be allowed, as long as safety is ensured.

The way, in which housing companies can intervene in balcony barbecuing, is to determine it prohibited in the rules of the housing company. If the rules are followed, that settles the matter. If a shareholder does not follow the rules, it could be impossible to intervene to that. Actually the only means available for housing company is to initiate the procedure of taking possession of that particular apartment. It is a heavy procedure and is likely to cause a dispute in court. Barbecuing could be considered as a matter that is related to normal living or at least so minor offence, that taking possession hardly would pass in the court. As a result there could be a big bill of legal costs to the housing company. The harmony between neighbours will hardly enhance.

Candles can be used in the same way on the balcony as in the apartment. Safety must be remembered. It is not allowed to use outdoor flares.

Other topics of disputes

Occasionally the disputes between neighbours concern matters such as balcony being “untidy” or storing goods on the balcony, for example. The shareholder can use the balcony for living purposes the same way as own apartment. It is possible to store goods on the balcony, and potential unaesthetic view is not a reason to prohibit it. However, the goods are not allowed to hang outside the balcony or otherwise cause a security risk. The place for hazardous substances is not on the balcony and the fire safety must also be remembered. In addition, the shareholder cannot attach shelves or any makeshift solutions to the exterior wall of the building, not even on the balcony. Usually, the exterior wall is within the maintenance responsibilities of the housing company, such as facades generally are.

Smoking is another issue of disputes. The new Tobacco Act has enabled to ban smoking on the balcony by a decision of a public authority. Apparently, there have arrived very few applications regarding this matter yet. The application requires a decision of the general meeting of the housing company, and on the other hand, public authority will examine whether there are grounds for prohibition. Smoking ban cannot be obtained automatically. In addition, applying for smoking ban is not cost-free to the housing company.  Public authorities are charging for work on an hourly basis. In addition, organizing a possible new general meeting and the fee of the housing manager will cause expenses.

A traditional cause of disputes is loud clamor on the balconies, although it will move to indoors always when autumn comes. The house rules generally stipulate that during night time there must be silence in the housing company. Way of life which disturbs other residents must be avoided, and at least it should not be repetitive. Disturbing living can be a basis for housing company to take possession of the apartment, if the shareholder will not change his behavior despite the warning. In the case of tenancy, termination of the lease may be an option.

All in all, it can be stated that there is a wide range of balcony related disputes. Usually, the most efficient way is to take the issues to the general meeting or to approach that troublemaking neighbour in the yard and broach the matter.

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