When the first snowflakes start falling and the snow crunches underfoot, hardly anyone thinks about snow clearing. But this is one of the responsibilities of homeowners and tenants in general. It would help if you did not leave snow on the pavement.
Cities and municipalities must ensure that streets and pavements are safe in winter for the pedestrians. However, many municipalities put the responsibility for cleaning roads on property owners because of the cost. They have to make sure that the pavement on their property is clean and well-ventilated – or their tenants have to do it:
1. Landlords Can Pass on The Responsibility for Cleaning Sidewalks to Their Tenants
Landlords may pass the responsibility for winter maintenance to their tenants. However, this must be set out in the tenancy agreement; a clause in the building regulations must be revised. Landlords should also check that tenants are fulfilling their obligations. If there are several tenants, it is a good idea to post a notice stating which tenant is responsible for clearing the snow on which day. However, assigning the responsibility for snow removal only to certain tenants, such as those on the first floor, is unacceptable. If you, as a tenant, do not have time to clear the snow, you should always arrange for a replacement, whether you are on holiday or have to go to work early. However, older adults are not obliged to take part in winter maintenance.
2. If It Becomes Slippery, It Must Be Sprinkled Immediately
If snow becomes slick, de-slushing must be carried out immediately. If black ice is expected to form during the night, de-icing is still required as a precautionary measure under the obligation to spread.
3. Salt De-Icing Is Prohibited
Too much helps too much is still the motto of some. But this should not apply to road salt. Environmentally friendly spreaders should be used to avoid ice and snow avalanches. For example, sand or gravel is suitable. Generally, road salt is only allowed in dangerous areas such as stairs or steep slopes. Some municipalities also allow the addition of road salt for black ice. In other cases, anyone caught with road salt can be fined between $500 and $10,000, depending on the municipality.
4. Safety Must Also Be Ensured on Roofs
Long sheets of ice on the roof may look nice, but they can be dangerous. So, remember to protect roofs against avalanches and run-off. What exactly needs to be done depends on the area’s general snow conditions, the building’s condition and the type and volume of traffic.
5. Accidents Can Lead to Compensation and Pain and Suffering Awards
Anyone who falls on slippery or uneven ground can claim compensation for damages, pain, and suffering. Homeowners living in their homes can protect themselves against such claims by taking out private liability insurance. The same applies to tenants who have to take care of winter maintenance. Rental homeowners can protect themselves against such claims by taking out homeowners’ liability insurance.
6. Pedestrians Should Continue to Exercise Caution
Complete protection cannot be guaranteed. Several courts have made this clear. Pedestrians should always know that sand is not everywhere – and wear appropriate footwear.
7. A Snow Removal Service Can Take Over the Obligation to Vacate
If you, as a landlord, hire a snow removal company to do your winter maintenance, you can pass the cost on to your tenants. Again, ensure the maintenance service is carried out on time and regularly.
What applies to snow also applies to leaves in autumn. Here too, landlords must ensure that leaves are regularly removed from pavements. Wet leaves can become as slippery on roads as snow and ice.