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Who is Responsible for Shoveling Sidewalks?

While snow removal is far from anyone’s favorite task, it has to be done. This is especially true after heavy snowfall since sidewalks covered in snow and ice are major safety hazards. But who is really responsible for shoveling sidewalks?

The answer depends on whether you own or rent your home. Here are some key differences.

If you own

As a homeowner, you are responsible for shoveling sidewalks on your property. Homeowners are usually held liable if someone is injured after falling on obstructed walkways.

One exception is often condo or co-op associations that pool their money to hire a snow removal service. If you live in a condo or co-op, ask the board how snow removal is handled for both the driveways and the walkway to your unit.

If you rent

The person responsible for shoveling sidewalks can be either the tenant or the landlord. Check your rental agreement since no two landlords are the same.

Here is how three different rental arrangements typically work:

  • You rent or lease a single-family home: You are likely responsible for shoveling sidewalks. In some cases, renters can work out a discount with their landlord in exchange for taking care of snow removal.
  • You rent in a retirement community: The community management organization is typically responsible for snow removal.
  • You rent in an apartment complex: The landlord should be responsible for snow removal. However, in some instances the renter is responsible for clearing personal walkways, so be sure to read the fine print of your rental agreement.

If you are responsible, it’s worth finding out how long you have to clear your snow. Some places have laws setting time frames by which snow must be cleared. For example, Pittsburgh residents are expected to remove snow within 24 hours. My small town of Girard, Pennsylvania, is less generous: You’re responsible for shoveling sidewalks within three hours after a snowfall ends!

Expectations vary by state, city and township, so review your local snow removal ordinances to avoid having to brave the cold and pay a fine or receive a citation on top of that.

Your homeowner’s insurance generally covers you if someone injured on your property files a claim. Yet there are times when the claim amount exceeds basic coverage limits. This could leave you paying for damages out of pocket.

You can protect yourself with Personal Catastrophe and Liability coverage, an extra layer of coverage over and above your auto and homeowners policies. An insurance professional like an Erie Insurance Agent can tell you more about these important coverages.

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.

The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of July 2022 and may be changed at any time. 

Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. 

The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states.  ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York.  ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia or New York.  ERIE long term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York. 

Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based upon applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.

Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer questions you may have before you buy.