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Snow Removal

Snow removal: Who’s responsible?

Winter has clearly arrived, which means the snow and ice have started to build up. And while renters might assume that their 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 the landlord. There are a few areas that you might want to look over to see who is responsible for the snow removal.

Your Lease Agreement

This would be a good starting point to find information about snow removal, maintenance of the unit, property landscaping, etc. Typically if you live in an apartment complex with shared walkways and parking areas, your landlord is responsible for keeping those areas clear. However, it may not be specifically stated in the agreement, and the landlord may be obligated by provincial laws or  other acts. If you are renting a single family where you have sole control over the walkways and driveways, you may find that you’re responsible for snow removal, in addition to other seasonal maintenance – but again, check that lease agreement.

Provincial Laws & Acts

If your lease has no mentions of snow removal, your next step is to find out what the provincial law says. Provinces vary slightly, 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 it’s also important even if your lease does cover the topic. Some landlords, particularly smaller ones, use stock leases without being fully aware of the relevant state laws or statutes. If your landlord has an obligation based on provincial laws, the language in your lease may not change or override that. A helpful website to check out for Ontario renters would be the Landlord and Tenant Board, specifically the Maintenance and Repair section.

City Bylaws

The last area you could take a look at would be your cities local bylaws. Each city may very from the next providing additional laws, placing the obligations on the landlord or tenant. 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 bylaws won’t conflict with the provincial laws, they may however add or reduce the responsibilities for either the landlord or tenant.

For example, the city of Toronto has an additional bylaw stating “Steps, landings, walks, driveways, parking spaces, ramps and similar areas shall be cleared of snow and ice during and immediately following a snowfall to provide safe access and egress for persons and vehicles.” Putting the onus of snow removal on the Landlords.

By checking your lease agreement, provincial laws, and your cities bylaws, you should be able to accurately determine who should be removing the snow at your home – ultimately preventing any slip and falls.

Source: Landlord and Tenant Board
Source: London Free Press