With the cold season right around the corner, you may be wondering whether or not you’ll be responsible for snow removal at your rental property. We get it – you don’t want to spend your day shoveling snow, but remember that you may be obligated to do so. Landlords are, after all, responsible for home maintenance services including tree trimming, pest control, and many more.
If you own a rental property in a region that sees quite a lot of snow, particularly during the winter, it’s vital to answer the question, “Who’s responsible for snow removal before the first fall of snow, the landlord or the tenant?”. Unfortunately, similar to many landlord-tenant matters, there’s no hard and fast rule as it depends on the situation.
Read on to find out when landlords are – and aren’t – responsible for snow removal.
Does state law determine snow removal rules?
Wondering who’s responsible for snow removal at a rental property? You may not have to figure this out on your own, as the answer may already be written in state law. In most states, the owner of the property is responsible for snow removal on walkways, sidewalks, etc. There may also be specific rules for when the snow needs to be completely cleared from these places. State law can also specify what de-icing procedures are covered, such as plowing and putting down salt.
Don’t forget to consider local laws, as there may be more detailed rules on snow removal on a municipal level. For instance, Illinois state law does not require landlords to remove snow, however, Chicago law does. Failure to follow local laws would result in penalties, even if the law isn’t specified in state law.
If you aren’t sure what your state dictates, consider consulting a property management company that’s an expert in rental laws.
Who is responsible for snow removal in a single-family rental?
In general, snow removal in a single-family home is the tenant’s role. However, the landlord should ensure that their tenants have cleared the snow and de-iced the area properly and promptly. That said, you need to check if the sidewalks, driveway, etc. have been satisfactorily cleared of snow and ice. You may also consider providing your tenants with snow removal tools such as shovels, ice scrapers, snow pushers, and more.
As a landlord, it’s important to explain to your tenants how to properly remove snow. For example, you can educate them on how wide they need to clear the path. In this way, you can ensure that your tenants clear the way properly, and in turn, reduce the risk of accidents such as slip-and-falls.
Do note that in many municipalities, elderly tenants do not need to remove the snow themselves. Instead, they can enlist the services of a snow removal company. As a landlord, it’s important to provide your tenants with your property management firm’s contact information. In case your tenant needs assistance, all they need to do is forward their concerns to your property management agent.
What are the rules on snow removal?
The rules on snow removal vary by state, but these are the general guidelines:
- Landlords have 24 to 48 hours to fully remove the snow after the snowfall.
- The cleared pathway should be wide enough for people to safely walk on.
- The snow should not be deposited onto the side street, curb, or other public property.
- Sand or salt should be scattered onto the cleared path to prevent accidents.
Who is responsible for snow removal in a multi-family property?
The tenant may be responsible for snow removal in a single-family home, but for multi-family properties, it’s a different story. Snow removal in multi-family properties such as townhomes, apartments, and condominiums falls on the landlord. Property owners must make sure that their property’s walkways, parking spaces, etc. are free of snow and ice, according to local ordinances.
Since snow can pile up at any time, it may be helpful to build a network of reputable vendors. By doing so, you’ll be able to remove the snow within the timeframe specified by state or local laws. It’s also a good idea to sign a contract with a snow removal company so you don’t have to waste time negotiating at the last minute.
You can also partner with a property management firm, as they will have built relationships with local vendors. You may be able to get reduced prices for specific services such as snow blowing, plowing, and so on.
Can landlords delegate snow removal to tenants?
If state law is quiet on who’s responsible for snow removal, you may be able to request your tenants to do it for you. However, do note that your tenants won’t be happy about this, so it pays to offer certain incentives. For example, if your property is in a snowy area, you could reduce your tenant’s rent if they choose to remove the snow themselves. This will allow you to lower your home maintenance costs, considering that the average cost for snow removal is $113.
Specify snow removal terms in the lease agreement
One of the common causes of tenant-landlord disputes is not knowing who’s responsible for what. That said, be very clear about who’s responsible for snow removal in the rental contract. Your lease should include the specific state or local laws on snow removal, as well as discuss each party’s respective duties. Besides answering who’s responsible, it should also state when and how the snow should be cleared after a snowfall.
Before signing the agreement, be sure to have it reviewed by a real estate attorney who is familiar with landlord-tenant laws in your vicinity.
Need help with rental property maintenance?
Whatever the weather, Luxury Property Care is here to provide unparalleled property maintenance services. It is our duty to make sure your tenants are safe, and that your property continues to meet state and local standards. Aside from preparing a property maintenance plan, we’ll ensure that your tenants understand their roles under the lease – in this way, we can preserve your landlord-tenant relationship.