Is Your Grill Legal?

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A sunny summer evening in Chicago is usually full of the smoke from barbecue grills. There is no end to the city’s love of open-air cooking. When it comes to grilling in apartment buildings though, you might have to make your burger with a side of yellow mustard… and red tape.

Cooking with Gas … or not.

Chicago code Section 15-26-540(4) states that “the storage, handling, keeping or using of any liquefied petroleum gas” is not permitted in apartment buildings housing 20 or more people. So if you’re in a 3 flat or smaller your gas grill is OK. Anything bigger than that and your only option is charcoal. This sort of law makes sense: 5 out of every 6 grill fires in the US are caused by gas grills.

The city has no laws on the books regarding charcoal grills on porches, balconies or yards.

Beyond Government

The city isn’t the only source of rules when you’re a renter. Your landlord might ban grills in your lease. If you’re renting in a condo, the condo association may ban them in the bylaws. Either way, if there’s a ban, you’ve got to abide by it.

There’s also the general social contract that we all must follow. If the smoke from your grill is blowing in through your neighbor’s window or coals are likely to fall on your neighbor’s head, you need to move the grill elsewhere.

What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

You burn down the building. Yes, you. You with the “kiss the cook” apron and the mad hickory skills. I don’t care how good you are at grilling. 1 out of every 20 home fires that happen each year involve grills. If you can somehow manage to control every element that keeps fire from spreading you need to close the tab and go join the Avengers.

Aside from the issue of destroying everything you and your neighbors love, there’s also the risk of getting fined or evicted.

How to Get Your Grilling On Safely

If live in an apartment building and really must grill, take it to your local park or at least down to the yard. Call up a friend in the suburbs and go man the grill for their cookout.

If for some reason there are no rules at your building that prohibit you from grilling, make sure that you always clean your grill thoroughly before use, stick to wood or charcoal as fuel, and never leave it unattended.

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Published by

Kay Cleaves

Founder and owner of RentConfident. She's the primary developer of the website and research engine code. She's spent over 10 years working in the Chicago rental industry and has assisted with over 1200 leases.