Black ice or snow: how often do you have to shovel the sidewalk? – style


Finally of snow! While the kids are enjoying themselves, homeowners are entering a pretty busy time of year. Because in the event of snow, mud or icy conditions, the owners, according to their “obligation of safe traffic”, must ensure that the pedestrian and bicycle paths in front of their property remain passable and do not become a dangerous slippery slope for passers-by.

“Property-owned traffic areas must be cleared when it snows so that residents and passersby are not endangered or injured,” said Michael Nack, an attorney with the Consumer Protection Association.To live Homeowners must clear their assigned public road areas and sidewalks and keep them in a safe condition. “This does not apply to green spaces,” Nack says.

The statutes of cities and municipalities contain information about when, where and how to clean – and where street cleaning begins. The rules vary slightly from place to place. But the main times are similar everywhere. After snow falls, trails must be cleared and sanded early in the morning no later than 7 a.m. on weekdays and no later than 8 or 9 a.m. on Sundays and holidays. Until 20:00 homeowners should shovel, sand, or clean or sweep walkways as often as necessary to ensure adequate safety over the long term.

It is important that two pedestrians with strollers or shopping bags can pass each other. Bylaws even regulate the width of sidewalks that must be cleared. Depending on the municipality, common from one to 1.50 meters. If there are private paths, such as access to the front door, it is sufficient that they are about half a meter wide. When it snows heavily, homeowners have to shovel snow several times a day.

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To remove snow, frost and ice, it is recommended to use, for example, grit or coarse sand as a tool. Grit has the advantage of being reusable. However, corrosive substances such as road salt are not allowed to loosen the ice. Many municipalities prohibit the use of road salt for environmental reasons.

It is also necessary to immediately clean the snow that has fallen or been thrown from the eaves, balconies or roofs onto the sidewalks, as well as clean the gutters of the streets. Anyone who intentionally or negligently fails to fulfill their obligations properly or on time may be subject to a fine. This also applies if the surfaces have been cleaned with prohibited means. If those responsible for sandblasting and cleaning do not take care of the winter service in time and people are injured as a result, they can claim damages or compensation from them.

Icicles on the house

Even an icicle can become a threat.

(Photo: imago classic/imago/Loop Images)

Therefore, it is advisable for apartment building owners or homeowners associations to entrust their winter services to a professional services company. The specific scope must be recorded in the list of services. Homeowners should also randomly check that they are cleaning and sanding properly. A responsible owner can thus “release” their obligations, that is, if they have carefully selected and supervised the cleaning company. “In the event of an accident, the commissioned company is liable if it violated official duties,” says A. Nackas.

Landlords can also oblige tenants to perform winter service if this is regulated accordingly in the lease agreement. If there are slippery accidents because renters do not Rightcleared on time, they are also responsible for that. Stiftung Warentest therefore advises tenants to take out personal liability insurance if they do not already have it.

However, pedestrians are also responsible for themselves, as recent case law shows. Pedestrians who see that sections of the sidewalk have not been cleared must proceed with extra care and attention. Anyone who falls anyway can be held responsible for not being careful enough.

But what if, despite all precautions, an accident occurs and a resident or passerby slips on a small, unrecognizable spot that was still icy and then claims for damages? “The decisive factor is whether the accident could have been avoided by taking necessary and reasonable measures,” says A. Nackas.

Therefore, owners should also be well aware of the risks of their building. For example, when there is warming in certain parts of Germany,…

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