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

Grosse Pointe Tenant Shoveling SnowIf you have a rental property somewhere with snowy winters, you may be thinking about how to cope with the responsibility of snow removal. Regulations about snow removal for Grosse Pointe rental property owners are totally varied and often complex. Due to this, it’s necessary to assign snow removal responsibilities accordingly before the first flakes fall. But who should be doing it – you or your tenant?  That depends on a few variables, which we explore in greater depth below.

Local Ordinance

At first, to completely grasp your snow removal responsibilities, look up your local ordinance. In several but not all areas, 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). However, in some 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 (tossing snow in the road is against the law in many towns) or how high you can pile snow up across a walkway. Others may even limit what sorts of road salt or other deicing materials you can utilize on your walkways and driveways.

Regardless of what the local ordinances state, it’s necessary to make efforts to avoid getting hit with fines for improper snow removal.

Property Type

When splitting up snow removal responsibilities, who gets assigned the chore also relies on what type of rental property you own. For instance, multi-family property owners are almost always responsible for snow removal. However, for single-family rental homes, most owners and landlords may allocate the responsibility of snow removal to the tenant.

This arrangement may succeed in several cases, especially if your tenant already handles yard maintenance and other basic tasks. However, it’s imperative to remember that the local ordinances still apply, so you must educate your tenant on proper snow removal practices to prevent running afoul of the law.

Tenant Ability

Another crucial factor to bear in mind is your tenant’s ability to perform snow removal tasks effectively and on time. Suppose your tenant isn’t physically able to do such activities or is considered a member of a protected class under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In that case, you may need to make other arrangements. Even though requiring a disabled tenant to do their snow removal is not technically illegal, a lack of consideration for your tenant could drastically affect tenant relations. In such circumstances, you may find the more ethical and profitable option to be hiring a professional Gross Pointe property manager to do it for your tenant or simply doing it yourself if you prefer.

Lease Documents

Most single-family rental property owners require their tenants to undertake snow removal. And, if you intend to do the same, you need to include clear language in your lease that outlines your tenant’s responsibilities relating to that activity. Another best practice is to provide 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 arise.

As a substitute, if you intend to provide snow removal, make sure to outline that in the lease as well. You should also mention expectations related to that service, including moving vehicles or not parking on the street during snow removal service times.


One of the excellent features of employing a property management company like Real Property Management Main is that we will assist you in determining how best to handle snow removal at your rental property. Contact us online today to discover more about our full range of Gross Pointe property management services.

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