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Landlords & Tenants: Who’s Responsible for Snow Removal?

Babylon Tenant Shoveling SnowIf you own a rental property somewhere with snowy winters, you may be concerned about how to handle the responsibility of snow removal. Regulations about snow removal for Babylon rental property owners are surprisingly varied and at times complex. Because of that, it’s vital to assign snow removal responsibilities accordingly in advance for the first flakes fall. But who should be doing it – you or your tenant?  That depends on a few factors, which we go over in further detail below.

Local Ordinance

To begin, look up your local ordinance to clearly understand your snow removal responsibilities. In numerous but not all places, there are local laws on the books requiring property owners to remove snow from adjacent public sidewalks and driveways, usually within a certain period (usually 24 to 48 hours). But in certain areas, local ordinances go beyond simply requiring snow removal. They may also outline where the removed snow can and cannot be piled up.

Some cities may require property owners to remove snow from fire hydrants, benches, or common areas adjacent to their property. Others may limit where you can pile the snow (throwing snow in the road is against the law in many towns) or how high you can pile snow up across a walkway. Some may even restrict the type of road salt or other deicing materials that may be used on walkways and driveways.

Irrespective of what the local ordinances indicate, it’s essential to take precautions to prevent getting hit with fines for improper snow removal.

Property Type

When dividing up snow removal responsibilities, who gets assigned the task also depends on what type of rental property you own. For example, multi-family property owners are almost always responsible for snow removal. But for single-family rental homes, most owners and landlords can assign the task of snow removal to the tenant.

This situation can work in several cases, especially if your tenant already handles yard maintenance and other basic tasks. However, it’s important to remember that the local ordinances still apply, so you should educate your tenant on proper snow removal practices to avoid running afoul of the law.

Tenant Ability

Another important factor to remember is your tenant’s ability to perform snow removal tasks appropriately and on schedule. If your tenant isn’t physically able to undertake such obligations or is considered a member of a protected class under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you may have to create other arrangements. While requiring a disabled tenant to do their snow removal is not technically illegal, a lack of consideration for your tenant could greatly affect tenant relations. In a situation like this, you may find the more ethical and profitable option to be hiring a professional Babylon property manager to do it for your tenant or simply doing it yourself if you prefer.

Lease Documents

Numerous single-family rental property owners assign their tenants to handle snow removal. And, if you choose to do the same, make sure to include clear language in your lease that outlines your tenant’s responsibilities related to that job. Another best practice is to include any related information from local ordinances if your tenant needs to follow particular rules. Not only can clear lease documents help your tenant understand their responsibilities regarding snow removal, but they can also be an invaluable resource should a dispute occur.

On the other hand, if you wish to provide snow removal, don’t forget to outline that in the lease as well. You must also add expectations related to that service, like moving vehicles or not parking on the street during snow removal service times.


One of the benefits of working with a property management company like Real Property Management Unlimited is that we will help you identify how best to handle snow removal at your rental property. Contact us online today to understand more about our full range of Babylon property management services.

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