We enjoy beautiful weather year-round in Hawaii, yet summer always seems more synonymous with barbequing. In an HOA, having a few BBQ guidelines could mean the difference between summer fun or disaster.

Experts suggest that if you’ve got a grill or several in shared areas that owners can use, you should post some rules to ensure safety. Since “grilling season” is upon us, now is a great time to review, or if you don’t have rules, incorporate them into those areas where you have grills located. In most cases, HOAs do not allow barbequing on owner lanais, but an HOA can regulate activities in those areas, too. Rules are intended for safety reasons and to maintain peace in your neighborhood. They should be designed to prevent disputes and nuisances while allowing fair and safe use of the property.

Associations often consider the following issues when making or updating BBQ rules:

  • Guidelines on fuel use, shut off-reminders and safe storage of fuel for the grill
  • Cleanup after use. Rules should be written to prevent rodents; maintain a clean appearance; and avoid additional maintenance, janitorial, or other costs for the association.
  • Grill use and managing smoke. Preventing smoke from entering units or areas of high traffic should be addressed in your regulations. Wood smoke chips can increase smoke when used in gas grills, and their use should be restricted.
  • Limitations on the duration of use for common grills. Just because a game can last four hours does not mean an owner should have use of the grill the entire time, there may be others who want to use the grill during that time. Rules for Association special events may supersede time limits set for general use by owners, but rules should reflect those exceptions.
  • Fire safety. Be sure to include all ordinance regulations about grilling in public spaces, where the nearest fire extinguisher is located and an exit plan in case of fire.

There is a whole set of precautions recommended for property managers by propane fuel suppliers. Here are the basic Dos and Don’ts:

DO store propane tanks in a cooler place, out of direct sunlight.

DON’T expose propane tanks to heat over 120˚ Fahrenheit. It may cause a leak or, worse, combustion.

DO store propane tanks outdoors.

DON’T store propane tanks indoors or in a garage, basement, carport, shed, sunporch, or carport.

DO keep propane tanks away from flames and spark-producing tools.

DON’T store your backup grill tank near the grill.

DO store propane tanks upright.

DON’T store propane tanks on their sides, because that can lead to the release of liquid and vapors.

DO store propane tanks on a dry, level surface.

DON’T store propane tanks on wet ground or any other surface that gets wet, as that can lead to the tank rusting and pitting that could make the tank useless if not dangerous.

DO inspect your propane tank frequently and replace if damaged.

DON’T use a propane tank that is rusty or has damage.

DO store propane tanks upright and secured while taking them for refill or exchange.

DON’T leave propane tanks in a closed vehicle. That means no running other errands while exchanging or refilling your propane tank.

DO get your propane tank professionally refilled by a qualified propane distributor.

DON’T refill outdated tanks with expired certification. It is against the law. Propane cylinders must be requalified or replaced every 5 or10 years depending on the cylinder type, condition, and previous requalification method.

The HOA board should also consider a once-a-year fire safety meeting with association members. This could include fire drills, exiting buildings/the property, and sounding a fire alarm so residents know what it sounds like.

The board may also want to review whether to install (or upgrade) a life-safety system — which includes things like sprinklers, smoke detectors, and ingress and egress lighting — particularly if you’re a condominium association. It may save a life!