Melissa Dubravetz
advertising writer

The recent warm weather has encouraged many people to get outside, do yard work and fire up the barbecue grill. In fact, the smell of burgers, hot dogs and other grilled items may soon be making its way through your neighborhood.

National Barbecue Month begins in a few days, and it is an unofficial holiday meant to kick off the summer grilling season. This is great for renters residing in a one- or twofamily dwelling or an apartment where the balconies and decks are protected by an automatic sprinkler system. Many renters, however, don’t have the ability to grill outside due to apartment contract rules and the Ohio Fire Code.

In fact, Section 308.1.4 of the Ohio Fire Code states that charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices shall not be operated on combustible balconies or within 10 feet of combustible construction. This means that renters wanting to grill their dinner need to find somewhere else to do so.

Fortunately, however, there are ways renters can enjoy grilled food at home, though they are not quite as convenient as grilling right outside your door. If you are unable to grill at your apartment or rental, here are some ways to enjoy National Barbecue Month and still follow the terms and conditions of your lease:

• Grab a picnic basket, load it with your food and necessities and head to a shared grill. Many apartment communities feature shared grilling areas to allow residents to enjoy time outdoors and the flavor of grilled food. If your complex doesn’t have a community grilling space, it may be worthwhile to ask your landlord about the possibility of having one set up.

• Consider visiting one of the local parks for a cook-out and to spend some time outside.

• Talk a friend or family members into hosting a potluck and grill get-together at their home. Have everyone bring a different dish to share, as well as their own entrée/meat to throw on the grill when they arrive. That way everyone gets to eat what they want, and no one incurs the cost of supplying the main course.

• Although not the same as cooking over an open-flame, consider investing in a portable electric grill to use in your apartment kitchen as an alternative to baking, sautéing and frying.

• Bring outdoor barbecue flavor indoors by selecting meats, seasoning and sauces with a smoky flavor.

• Consider investing in a smoking gun to infuse your food with a smoky flavor, or purchase an indoor smoker to use in your kitchen.

• Try your hand at using smoking chips indoors. Throw some soaked chips in with your meat when it is almost done cooking, cover your pan and let the chips work. Make sure your kitchen fan or other ventilation is on beforehand.

• Ask a friend or family member if you can come over to grill at the beginning of the week to prepare meals to reheat later. This could include chicken, beef, steak, veggies, potatoes and even dessert. Separate food in storage containers and refrigerate when you get home.

• When you can’t grill, broil it. Broiling your food is a good alternative to grilling, as both methods use intense direct heat to cook your food. Make sure to keep an eye on your food to avoid overcooking and/or burning.

• When all else fails, order grilled take-out. Many grocery stores offer already-prepared grilled meats and accompanying side dishes, or you could stop by your favorite restaurant and order a grilled entree. Enjoy your meal in the comfort of your balcony or patio. The best part is – there is little to clean up.

These are just a few ways renters can enjoy barbecuing (or at least the flavor of barbecuing) next month and beyond. Regardless of how you grill or prepare your food, always grill safely.

Let me know what you think. How do you enjoy barbecue at your rental? I welcome your suggestions on making a decision, tales from your personal experiences or anything else you want to talk about. Send an e-mail with your name and phone number to For additional real estate information, visit, the key to hassle-free home hunting.