Neighbors BBQ Smoke (Complaints, Solutions, and the Law)

Neighbors BBQ Smoke

For some, the smell of a barbecue is associated with summer and delicious food. But for others, it’s the dreaded experience of their neighbor’s smoke constantly blowing into their yard. If you’re in the latter group, what can you do about your neighbor’s barbecue smoke?

If you’re upset that your neighbor’s barbecue smoke is constantly blowing into your yard, the first thing you should do is calmly speak with your neighbor about the situation. If this does not work, you have the right to file a nuisance complaint against your neighbor.

But, before we get the authorities involved, we’re going to discuss some important matters regarding barbecue smoke that you should be aware of.

We’re going to cover things like:

  • How you can approach your neighbors
  • When you should involve the law
  • Why you may want to involve the law (Hint: it’s a life or death situation!)

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

Having a friendly conversation with your neighbor about how their barbecue smoke is bothering you is the first step you should take to solve the issue.

However, this does not always work and you may be forced to involve the law.

To properly prove the amount of smoke that enters your yard, you should have a decent security system like a Ring Video Doorbell or Outdoor Security Cameras (both on Amazon) to capture the smoke on camera.

You can then show this footage to the police to help them understand your concerns.

Making Smoke About BBQ Smoke

So, the first question to ask yourself is, should you make smoke about barbecue smoke? Well, if it is bothering you enough, then, yes, make some smoke about it. Let’s learn the best way to approach this issue. 

Can I Complain About My Neighbor’s BBQ Smoke?

If your neighbor’s BBQ smoke is bothering you, you should let them know your concerns. Start by talking to your neighbor directly before going to anyone else including your HOA or the police.

Let your neighbor know that the smoke from their barbecue is entering your property and it is causing you distress.

It is likely that they are unaware of where the smoke is traveling, so it is best to approach them in a friendly manner. Doing this will give them the benefit of the doubt and not unnecessarily escalate the situation. 

How Do You Deal With Smoke From a BBQ?

Speaking to your neighbor directly about the smoke from their barbecue may help alleviate the situation. Approach them in a calm and friendly manner during a convenient time- not early in the morning or late at night.

Kindly inform your neighbor that the smoke from their barbecue is entering your property and that it is causing you concern. Discuss to them where the smoke is entering your property and why exactly it bothers you.

Hopefully, they will respond in a sympathetic manner and adjust their barbequing location. Additionally, you can exchange numbers so you can test the new locations to see if the smoke enters your property. 

How Do I Talk to My Neighbor About Their BBQ Smoke?

To speak to your neighbor about their barbecue smoke, approach them during a non-hectic time of the day. Speak to them calmly while clearly articulating your concerns. Ensure sure they understand what you are saying. 

The best time to approach your neighbor is while they are grabbing their mail, walking their dog, gardening, or just to appear to be enjoying some downtime.

Speak to them in a calm and friendly manner while clearly expressing your concerns. 

Suggest some options for them that may minimize the amount of smoke that enters your property. This can be moving the barbecue further away from the property lines or deeper into their backyard. 

Try your best to meet in the middle with your neighbor so they can continue their barbequing and you can enjoy a smoke-free yard.

If they do not respect your concerns, you can think of involving other people in the matter.

What Can I Do About My Neighbor’s BBQ Smoke Coming Into My Property?

If your neighbor’s BBQ smoke is coming into your property, you should try to resolve the issue amicably between you and your neighbor before involving anyone else. However, if they choose to not listen, you can consider involving your local council or HOA.

If your attempts of kindly speaking to your neighbor about their smoke do not get you anywhere, you can bring the situation up to your local council or HOA.

They will have a strong idea of what is allowed when it comes to barbecues, including how close to your house they can be. 

Can I Contact My Landlord About My Neighbor’s BBQ Smoke?

You should contact your landlord about your neighbor’s BBQ smoke after you speak to your neighbors first and they do not respect your concerns. Feel free to contact your landlord to get the situation resolved.

Landlords typically don’t like to be contacted about neighborly disputes until after you try to resolve the issue yourself.

Therefore, when you speak to your landlord, inform them that you have already spoken to your neighbor several times and they refuse to listen to you.

You might also enjoy our post on What to Do if Your Neighbors Are Burning Trash

The Laws About BBQ Smoke

Now that we have determined how you can talk to your neighbors about their smoke issue, let’s discuss what we can do if they don’t listen. Yes, this is when you can call the cops.

But first, you need to understand the laws of the grill. 

Is It Illegal to Have BBQ Smoke Leave Your Property?

It is not illegal to have BBQ smoke leave your property since controlling smoke is next to impossible considering how the wind affects where it travels. However, when smoke leaves your property and causes a nuisance to your neighbors, they can file a complaint. 

Although it is not illegal for your neighbor’s smoke to leave their property, it is still an emotional and physical irritant.

Therefore, you can file a complaint against your neighbor if they refuse to ignore your personal requests to try and control the smoke. 

Are There Laws on BBQ Smoke?

There are no specific laws on barbecue smoke, but there are laws and restrictions about where you can barbecue. This takes into account the smoke that is produced. Most laws are local and not federal.

To help you understand your local laws and regulations about barbequing, ask these questions:

  1. How far can a barbecue be from a property line?
  2. Can my neighbor barbecue beside my fence?
  3. Is barbequing allowed in my area?
  4. Are there current restrictions on barbequing?

Your city will have specific laws regarding these parameters. If you believe your neighbor is not abiding by these regulations, bring them to their attention.

If they do not care, bring them to the attention of your local council. 

Can I Call the Cops on My Neighbor for Making Too Much BBQ Smoke?

If you believe that your neighbor is breaking any local regulations about barbecuing, you can call the cops and let them know that the smoke is bothering you. However, you should only call the cops after you have tried to deal with the situation yourself. 

Keep in mind that if you call 9-1-1, they may not respond by visiting your home if they may have more pressing matters to attend to.

However, you can call your local police station and request to formally complain about your neighbors. The police will then investigate the issue when they have time. 

Therefore, you shouldn’t call the cops if you expect them to pay your neighbors a visit right away and stop the barbecuing. But, instead, you should involve the police when you want to submit a formal complaint. 

Apartment BBQ Laws

Laws regarding barbecuing in apartment buildings will vary between buildings and cities. However, in most areas, it is illegal to barbecue inside, for obvious reasons. 

To find out if you can barbecue in your apartment, you should first check with your local law. Some states are very strict on barbecuing, for example, Virginia, where they have completely banned barbecuing in all apartment buildings.

While other states are more relaxed, such as Chicago, where you are allowed to grill on an outdoor balcony. 

If you live in an area such as Chicago where they are more relaxed on grilling in apartment buildings, you should then check with your specific apartment building.

The management company may have additional regulations that you need to follow. 

Are My Neighbor’s Allowed a BBQ on Their Balcony?

Whether or not your neighbor is allowed to BBQ on your balcony will depend on where you live and what type of balcony it is. In most cases, people are not allowed to barbecue on a wooden balcony due to fire hazards. 

Barbecuing regulations vary between cities since bylaws enforce these rules. Some cities are more strict when it comes to barbecuing and some cities are more relaxed.

Check with your city’s website to find out if you can, first, barbecue in your city, and then, find out the specific regulations regarding balconies.

For example, in New York City, it is permitted to barbecue on a terrace or in a backyard, but not on a balcony or roof. Most places consider balconies “combustible” if they are wooden or less than ten feet wide. 

Are Barbecues a Nuisance?

Barbecues can be considered a statutory nuisance. Statutory nuisance is anything that is a nuisance and poses a threat to health.  For example, the smoke coming from a barbecue can be considered a statutory nuisance.

If you have attempted to speak to your neighbor several times about the smell coming from their barbecue, and they refuse to listen, you can let them know that you are thinking of filing a nuisance complaint against them.

Once a claim is submitted, an environmental health officer will look into the situation. Here are a few parameters they will investigate:

  • What time of day or night does the smoke travel into your yard
  • How long does the barbequing last
  • How often does this issue happen
  • The surrounding environment

Can I File a Complaint Because of My Neighbor’s BBQ Smoke?

You can absolutely file a complaint because of your neighbor’s BBQ smoke. Once you have spoken to your neighbor about the situation and they refuse to listen to you, you can call your local police station and file a complaint.

The type of complaint you will want to make is a nuisance complaint. Most cities make it easy to file a nuisance complaint through the city’s website.

You can typically fill it out in less than ten minutes. 

You might also enjoy our post on How to Deal With Your Neighbors Smoking Weed

How Do I File a Nuisance Complaint?

To file a nuisance complaint, you can submit a form on your city’s local website or speak to a police officer directly. This can be done by calling your local police station or visiting them in person.

To successfully submit a nuisance complaint, you should have the following information ready:

  • What the complaint is about (your neighbor’s barbecue smoke)
  • What time of day the smoke happens
  • How often the smoke enters your property
  • Any health risks it may pose to your specific condition, if applicable
  • What you have done to resolve the issue yourself
  • Any proof of the smoke

Can I Sue My Neighbors for Their BBQ Smoke?

It is possible to sue your neighbor for a statutory nuisance because of their barbecue smoke. If the smoke is constantly coming into your yard and or affecting your health, there is a better chance that you will be able to sue. 

However, before you think of suing, make sure you have enough evidence to give to your lawyer. This can be in the form of video surveillance, written records of when you spoke to your neighbor, and police reports. 

If you do not already have video surveillance set up, you can think of installing this recommended one from Amazon that will capture the smoke blowing into your yard.

Is It Illegal To Have a Bbq in Your Garden?

There are no specific laws when it comes to barbecuing in your garden as long as you are following the other local regulations implemented by your city. In most cases, if you’re allowed to barbecue in your backyard, you are allowed to barbecue in your garden. 

To ensure that you are allowed to barbecue in your area, refer to your local bylaws. Specifically, there are fire codes that are considered when it comes to barbecuing.

Additionally, ensure if there are any fire bans currently in your area which may affect the usual laws.

Can My Neighbor’s Put a BBQ Next to My Fence?

If your neighbors put a barbecue next to your fence, it needs to be at least ten feet away. In fact, all barbecues need to be ten feet away from any structure, including a house. 

Therefore, if you suspect your neighbor’s barbecue is less than ten feet away from your fence, you should inform them of the bylaws.

Let them know that these bylaws are put into place to enforce safety and you would like them to respect the laws (in the kindest way possible).

But, if they don’t, this is good evidence for you to include if you try to sue them. 

Can My Neighbor’s Put a BBQ in Their Backyard?

Your neighbors are allowed to put a barbecue in their backyard if your city’s bylaws state that it is permitted. However, if it is not permitted then your neighbor is illegally barbecuing.

Additionally, there are specific requirements when it comes to barbecuing in a backyard. Generally, a barbecue needs to be placed ten feet away from any structure, including fences, sheds, and houses.

There must also be a fire extinguisher nearby or a hose. 

How Far Away Should My Neighbor’s BBQ Be From My House?

Most cities require that your neighbor’s barbecue be at least ten feet away from any structure, including your house. If you believe your neighbor’s barbecue is any closer, inform them of this bylaw.

This bylaw is to ensure that if ever the barbecue goes up in flames, it will have a harder time reaching any surrounding structures which can increase the strength of the fire. 

If you believe your neighbor’s barbecue is too close to your house, inform them that it must be at least ten feet away.

You might also enjoy our post on If You Can Burn Down a Brick House

Health Concerns of BBQ Smoke

Other than creating an unpleasant cloud of smoke in your property that is unpleasant to look at, smoke can also negatively affect your health- which is the main reason why you should do something about it.

Let’s look into some of the health hazards created by barbecues.

Is BBQ Smoke Poisonous?

Barbecue smoke is not necessarily poisonous but it can be harmful to your health if inhaled in large quantities, similar to any kind of smoke. 

When the fuel source of your barbecue – either propane, charcoal, or wood – combines with oxygen, smoke is produced. According to the CDC, smoke contains several harmful byproducts including carbon monoxide.

This smoke can affect the person who is grilling and others in the neighborhood. 

Is Charcoal BBQ Unhealthy?

Grilling with a charcoal barbecue is indeed unhealthy for you and the environment. When you grill with charcoal, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are released which are carcinogenic.

Although grilling with charcoal can produce that desired smokey taste, it, unfortunately, has a downside. Grilling with charcoal will expose you to carcinogens that can leave a lasting impression on your health.

However, if you grill in moderation, you should be fine. 

Can Charcoal Smoke Make You Sick?

Inhaling too much smoke of any kind is not good for you. Charcoal specifically has toxic components such as carbon monoxide and PAHs, which is carcinogenic. 

Therefore, you may suffer some short and long-term effects of smoke inhalation. Being minimally exposed to charcoal smoke is generally not enough to cause any type of cancer. 

Some common symptoms of smoke inhalation include:

  • Coughing
  • Itchy or stinging eyes
  • Irritated throat
  • Runny nose
  • Chest pain
  • Short of breath
  • Dizziness

Are BBQs Carcinogenic?

Unfortunately, grilling meat on a barbecue does produce carcinogens which can increase your chance of cancer. However, if you only grill sometimes, it is not likely that you will develop cancer only from the barbecue. 

But, if you are grilling up your meat every single night, you are certainly playing with fire.

The smoke created from a barbecues fuel – including propane, charcoal, or wood – combined with oxygen, produces PHAs which is a known carcinogen. 

You might also enjoy our post on What to Do if Your House Smells Like Gas

Do Gas BBQs Give off Carbon Monoxide?

Gas barbecues do indeed produce carbon monoxide. However, when the fuel is burning, the carbon monoxide is converted into relatively harmless carbon dioxide. 

Yet, carbon monoxide can still leak from a barbecue once it is turned off. This odorless gas is extremely dangerous to inhale, causing someone to suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning.

It is important to keep a safe distance away from barbecues once they are turned off because of this issue. 

Final Thoughts

By now, you should have a clear understanding of what you can do about your neighbor’s barbecue blowing smoke into your yard.

Confronting them in a neighborly manner is your best bet to have the issue amicably resolved without having to involve any authorities.

However, since you now know that inhaling too much barbecue smoke is dangerous, do not hesitate to contact the authorities if your neighbor refuses to listen to your kind requests.

You have to do what is best for the health of you and your family – and your sanity!

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