Summer has arrived, and for many, this also signals the start of grilling season. When you are in a rental property, there are a few points of etiquette and caution that you should follow if you want to keep both your landlord and your neighbors happy without sacrificing your prize-winning burgers.
1. Keep the grill away from the rental property.
When you have limited porch or deck space, it is tempting to keep it tucked close to the wall, but if it is too close, you risk damage to the property and increase your chances of a fire. While brick or stone may be impervious to a hot grill, siding will actually warp or bubble.
I learned this lesson the hard way during one grilling session. Once I figured in the cost of matching and replacing the damaged portion of siding, those steaks ended up being the most expensive meal I have ever eaten. If you don’t have a lot of space, make sure you are able to pull the grill away at least 18 inches while it is in use.
2. Invest in a rubber grill mat.
Available in various sizes and prices, these handy grill mats go underneath the grill to catch grease spills. This is especially important if you are in an apartment situation with a wood slat balcony and downstairs neighbors that won’t be happy to have hot, black grease dripping down on them from above. While most grills come with a grease trap, it can overflow without your notice and stain wood and concrete.
Before I got wise and bought a grill mat, I had to scrub some stubborn stains out of a stone patio in a rental before I could get my deposit back. It took some fairly concentrated chemicals and some fairly concentrated work on my part. All that work reminded me that an inexpensive mat was the best option.
3. Be considerate to your neighbors.
Summers are hot and many people keep their doors and windows open in the early evenings in an effort to cool down the house. Remember that in relatively close quarters, like apartment buildings, the smoke from a charcoal grill is likely to blow directly into any nearby open windows. On a similar note, if you expect to have a large gathering of people, be aware of the amount of noise you will be hosting late into the night.
While this doesn’t mean that you need to keep from grilling entirely, giving your neighbors a heads up before you light those coals could go a long way toward garnering their goodwill. Inviting them over to eat from time to time will probably go even further.
4. Keep grills outdoors at all time.
Your rental agreement may or may not specify what is allowed in terms of outdoor cooking, but be safe about it either way. Do not bring the grill, even tabletop ones, into the house or even an open garage. Hazardous carbon monoxide fumes will build up and potentially kill anyone close enough to breathe them for an extended length of time. It’s better to stand out in the rain or the hot sun to flip those burgers if your barbeque can’t wait.
The same common sense should also apply to open fires. If your property doesn’t have an actual fire pit made of metal, stone or concrete, you should assume that your landlord will not look kindly on your attempt to make s’mores the old fashioned way.
When you use proper grilling etiquette, not only will your landlord and your neighbors be happy, but you will be as well. Acting in a responsible manner with your grill at your rental property means no frustrating notices from the landlord, no complaints from neighbors, no money out of your pocket for damages and plenty of delicious grilled food all year long.