Balcony in co-ownership: laws and duties

A balcony is an integral part of your home and is more often than not considered private property. In most residential buildings with balconies, however, they have to comply to a set of rules established by the property managers. This is when it gets complicated to differentiate between rights, obligations and constraints that are imposed onto owners and tenants. Below, you will find a guide as to what is allowed to do on your balcony.

Attention: The following information corresponds to general practices of co-ownership. In any case, we advise you to always check your co-ownership regulations.

To whom does the balcony belong?

Generally speaking, you have to differentiate between the balcony’s structure and the “insides” of the balcony.

The structure contains the concrete floor, the walls, and sometimes also the guardrails. This means that these parts are part of the facade of the building and do not belong to the owner of the apartment. Concretely, the property managers are accountable for any charges and responsibilities concerning the frame of the balcony and its waterproof qualities.

On the other hand, the “insides” of the balcony, or superficial coverings belong to the co-owner. Consequently, it is the latter that is accountable for its maintenance, cleaning and small reparations.

General rules for balconies in co-ownership

Usually, the co-ownership rules prohibit certain activities and types of furniture or decoration on the balconies.

In some cases, the co-ownership has extra decision rights, as sometimes even if some things are technically allowed, they have to pass a vote during a general assembly. Most often, the co-owners will ban anything that changes the look of the facade or balcony from the street.

The objective of such rules is to uniformise the look of the balconies of the building whilst also guaranteeing peace between the co-owners. The remaining part of the blogpost will dive into the most common rules:

Cooking on your balcony

Oftentimes, cooking on your balcony is limited in certain manners or even completely prohibited. The reasons thereof are security (a barbecue for example engenders smoke and therefore risks causing a fire) and also the neighbor’s comfort (the smell of grilled sardines is not always appreciated by everyone).

Installing flower pots

It is very rare that installing plant pots is not allowed. In general it is allowed to add plant pots to your balcony as well as to attach them to the inside of the guard rails and plant different kinds of greenery. Although, sometimes, co-ownership guidelines might prohibit certain plants or the attachment all in all, the reason being the proliferation of insects in certain areas. Most often you need to insure that when watering your plants nothing is leaking onto the balconies of your downstairs neighbor, onto the street, or along the facade. You need to make sure that the water does not drop somewhere it is not supposed to and that your pots are not filled extensively.

All in all, it is important to recognize that you are responsible for every object that might fall from your balcony.

Jardinières sur un balcon
Remember to always hang up your pots on the inside of the balcony

Making noise

At day and at night, you are allowed to live on your balcony the way you find it appropriate, and, therefore, you are of course allowed to have dinner with your friends. However, you need to make sure that you are not disturbing anyone, because like always the limit of your afternoon or evening will be the calmness of your neighbors. Remember not to turn up the music on your balcony and, especially after a certain time, when night falls, keep it quiet.

Dry your laundry

Even if it is done very often, it is not always allowed. It depends mostly on the co-ownership and also communal rules. Often, you are only allowed to dry your laundry on low drying racks that cannot be seen from the street.

Parabolic dishes

Principally, a co-ownership cannot prohibit you from setting up a parabolic dish if it does not already provide a collective set of cables. However, the property managers can always ask you to limit the height of the parabolic dish or to install it on the building’s roof. We recommend consulting your property managers in these cases.

Nude sunbathing

If the balcony is under your property, nothing hinders you from being nude on your balcony. Nonetheless, you need to make sure that you are neither visible from the street nor from other apartments and balconies. Indeed, being nude in other people’s sight or in places accessible to the general public’s eye is prohibited and punished by law.

Setting-up decorative screens or windbreakers

These kinds of movable and light-weight objects are usually allowed. Be aware to limit their height in order not to disturb your neighbor’s view since disturbing one’s view and disturbing the sun to reaching the other’s balconies is considered a neighborhood unrest.

Having animals on your balcony

Generally, it is allowed to hold animals on your balcony as long as no one feels disturbed by the smell or noise. A cat or small dog for example usually does not raise any problem, but for chickens for example, you will need the co-ownership’s authorization.

What kinds of construction work is allowed?

Work related to the waterproofness and the security of the balcony will always be charged to and under the responsibility of the co-ownership. During the general assembly, a budget is voted and spread pro rata amongst all the owners. Nevertheless, work concerned with the balcony’s look, its state and small-scale reparations are charged to the owner. But even in these cases, not everything is possible and you need to make sure the co-ownership allows your plans.

Installing a solarium or a veranda

Here several elements need to be taken into account: the outside look of the balcony which will obviously change, the extra weight the balcony needs to carry.

In this particular case, only the co-ownership will have the right to allow or not to start the work and ensure the viability of such a project.

Renovate a balcony floor

Again, many different cases are possible here. Removable floors like a carpet or removable balconEasy planks are allowed under the condition that they are not visible from the street and that they do not change anything on the original state of the balcony.

If your project implies laying tiles, repainting the original floor or piercing holes to attach a wooden plank, you need to receive the agreement of your co-ownership.

Repainting your guardrails

This is usually not allowed if it clashes with the visual harmony between the building’s balconies. If you want to repaint it, male sure to use the same tint than the one used on the original if you want to freshen up your guardrails. Again, you will need the agreement from your co-ownership.

Installing lights

Light, small, and superficial lights are allowed in co-ownership buildings. To clarify, it is allowed to install lights, even attaching them to walls is perfectly fine, as long as the work related to their set up are discrete and easy.

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