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Snow Removal Laws for Rental Properties

Winter has officially come, and on its heels will follow a good deal of snow. If you live in (or maintain properties) in an area susceptible to snowfall, now is the time to find out what you need to know about local snow removal ordinances.


Snow removal requirements regarding sidewalks, roads, and driveways that border your property are typically enforced by state and local laws. City ordinances and local laws can provide a required timeline for snow clearance, well as, stipulate what can be done with the snow once it has been removed. Learning these laws is important to ensure that you won’t find yourself in hot water after the first snowfall of the season.


Snow Removal Rules for Rental Properties:


For those that live in a rental, your lease should state whether or not you or your landlord is responsible for removing snow according to local ordinances. Generally, for single-family properties, this task is the tenant’s responsibility, and the lease should include details about what needs to be done and within what timeframe (many states require that the snow is removed 24hrs after the snowfall, but your area may vary). For multi-unit properties, it can be tricky to expect tenants to undertake the removal task due to shared walkways that all residents utilize. In these cases, snow removal is usually completed by a maintenance team or the management themselves. However, there will be instances in both resident situations, where the lease will expressly forbid tenants to remove snow or ice from the property. This is because improper snow removal can result in an accident for which the landlord or owner will be held liable.


Snow Removal: Tips for Landlords and PMs:


Landlords and PM’s must be aware of local snow removal ordinances, and must specifically stipulate who is responsible for shoveling snow or deicing walkways. It’s important to be clear about these requirements within your lease agreement and it can be helpful to remind tenants about these rules each year as winter arrives. A simple handwritten note or an inclusion in a tenant newsletter is all it can take to ensure that your property is safely in compliance and you will remain fine-free.


Finding Snow Removal Guidelines for Your State:


Remember that each state, as well as the cities within each state, will have its own ordinances that may govern their snow and ice removal requirements. Look for guidelines for all 50 states’ snow removal laws, or if you have questions, call your city or county office. You can also use the internet and key word search “snow removal ordinance [your city or municipality name]” to find info for your area.


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