Snow Removal on Your Rental Property: Landlord or Tenant Responsibility?
Snow might create a pretty winter wonderland, but it’s an entire other beast when you need to get rid of it on a regular basis. If you manage property in an area that’s prone to lots of snow, removing snow frequently can be a tiring and seemingly never-ending process. However, it’s important to keep the walkways and sidewalks around your property clear and safe lest your tenants slip and fall. Snow removal is a task you need to stay on top of during the winter, but is it the sole responsibility of the property owner or management, or can you shoulder it onto your tenants?
Many city ordinances require property owners to keep sidewalks clear of snow and shovel a path for delivery personnel or face fines. On a rental property, it’s even more important to maintain common areas so you’re not liable for any accidents that might happen if snow and ice are left on walkways. You could be legally and financially responsible if one of your residents slips on an uncleared path. If your city has a law requiring snow and ice removal, it’s up to you as the property manager or owner to get rid of the snow, or hire someone to do so. If you own or manage a multi-unit property, the best course of action is to either do it yourself or hire a snow removal 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. How soon after a snowfall does a path needs to be cleared, and how wide does the path need to be? Keep your resident updated on the local laws regarding snow disposal as well as some safety tips to prevent any injuries while they do it. It’s common for a landlord to offer a monthly rent discount if a tenant honors the snow removal agreement. To ensure regular shoveling of the property, you might want to provide your tenant with the salt or sand needed to prevent anyone from slipping on your property post-shoveling.
In areas where it snows frequently, it might be a good cost-saving measure to make an arrangement with your tenant to help shovel your property, especially if you don’t live close by. Similar to having your tenant in charge of yard work, making them in charge of snow removal on the property can help you keep maintenance costs down, and in return, help keep your tenant’s monthly rent down.