Now that the lovely days of single digit temperatures are upon us and we have resigned ourselves to winter weather, the next question may be how do plan to deal with the snow and ice on the walkways and driveways? The answer to this question isn’t always clear cut.
A LANDLORD’S RESPONSIBILITY FOR SNOW REMOVAL
While landlords of single-family rental properties can specify in the rental agreement that snow removal as the tenant’s responsibility in most states and provinces, multi-family rental properties often have common walkways that the landlord must maintain, and liability is a real concern.
If you own or manage a multi-unit property, the best course of action is to take on snow removal yourself or hire a service. If you own a single-family rental property, you can include snow removal in your lease agreement as the tenant’s responsibility. When you create the tenant-landlord agreement, it’s important to be clear about when and where the snow needs to be shoveled. For example, you should specify how soon after a snowfall a path needs to be cleared and how wide the path needs to be.
Keep your resident updated on the local laws regarding snow disposal and offer safety tips to reduce the risk of injury while they do it. To ensure regular shoveling of the property, you might want to provide your tenant with a shovel and the salt or sand needed to prevent anyone from slipping on your property post-shoveling.
Often, the time frame is within 24 to 48 hours after the snow has stopped falling. State and municipal laws may also include language about snow removal that includes de-icing procedures like putting salt or sand down after you shovel.
If you are a renter here’s what you should do when it comes to snow season – Check your lease! The lease should expressly state who is responsible for snow removal. Your landlord should be familiar with the local laws about time frames for shoveling snow. If you are lucky, a super nice landlord may state in the lease that they will come shovel the sidewalks for you! Your landlord or property manager may also have rules in place that prevent snow removal because that could make the property owner liable if an accident occurs. Now is the time to check in with your landlord or property manager so you know what to do before a snowstorm hits.
SNOW REMOVAL IN YOUR LEASE AGREEMENTS
Proper wording on the lease agreement can help eliminate a lot of confusion on who is responsible for snow removal. The lease agreement should reflect the state or municipal laws on snow removal and clearly define any details concerning time and so forth. If your lease agreement doesn’t include language about snow removal responsibilities, create an addendum that expressly discusses it and make sure both of you sign it. Make sure to have your lease agreement reviewed with an attorney who is familiar with landlord-tenant laws and snow removal requirements in your area.
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