Winter is here, which means for some renters the return of snow and ice. And while renters might assume that the landlord is responsible for shoveling snow and other winter weather maintenance, that’s not necessarily true. As a renter, the responsibility for snow removal varies depending on your location and the agreement you’ve entered into with your landlord. To get down to the bottom of the issue, you may want to look in three places: Your lease, state laws and local ordinances.
Like many questions involving landlord and renter rights and responsibilities, your lease is a good starting point to find out more information. Usually, if you live in an apartment complex with shared walkways and parking areas, your landlord will likely be responsible for keeping those areas clear. But, it won’t always be explicitly written in the lease, says Apartments.com.
If your lease has no mention of snow removal, your next step is to find out what your state law says, according to Zillow. State laws vary, and responsibility for the task may differ depending on the apartment you’re renting and the terms of your lease. This is important if your lease does not explicitly mention snow removal, but may also be important even if your lease does cover the topic. Some landlords, particularly those with smaller rental properties or only a few tenants, use stock leases without being fully aware of the relevant state laws or statutes. If your landlord has an obligation based on state laws, the language in your lease may not change or override that so consider speaking with your landlord or your state’s government office for further clarification.
Finally, take a look at your local ordinances. Some cities and counties have additional laws, called ordinances, which place obligations on either tenants or landlords. They’ll spell out not only your landlord’s responsibilities with regard to snow removal, but may provide you with remedies, or a person to contact, if management isn’t keeping up their end of the bargain. While these ordinances won’t conflict with state law, they may increase your responsibilities — or your landlord’s. You can usually find a copy of local ordinances on your town’s or county’s website.
By checking your lease, state laws and local ordinances, you should be able to get concrete answers to your question who is responsible for shoveling snow during the winter months.
This is a guest post from Sarah Katz, Content & Community Manager, at Apartments.com.
Originally published on March 6, 2013.