Still Got Ice and Snow? Landlord should have it cleared by now.

This is what your sidewalk should look like (Photo by Richlee)
This is what your sidewalk should look like (Photo by Richlee)

If you’ve nearly busted your rump on the sidewalks in front of your building the last few days, let the landlord know he is probably violating the law. In DC, landlords and other property owners are required to clear their walkways within eight hours after a major snow or ice storm. They don’t believe you? Send them here. Here are the rules:

Who is responsible for clearing sidewalks?
District law requires property owners to clear snow and ice from sidewalks, handicap ramps and steps abutting their property within the first 8 daylight hours after snow, sleet or ice stop falling. (DC Code, 2001 Ed, § 9-601.) This applies to all property owners – residential, commercial, federal, and municipal. If ice cannot be cleared without damaging the sidewalk, then property owners may spread sand or salt to make the sidewalks safe. (DC Code, 2001 Ed, § 9-604.) Property owners must also clear snow from the ADA-curb cuts. These are part of the sidewalk. Property owners are also asked to clear snow from catch basins and storm drains to prevent flooding during snow melt.

Do other cities require property owners to do this?
Yes

Is there a fine for not clearing the sidewalk?
According to the municipal Code, if property owners fail to comply, the District is required to clear their sidewalks (DC Code, 2001 Ed., § 9-605) and sue the property owners for the cost of clearing the snow or ice plus a $25 fine (DC Code, 2001 Ed., § 9-606).

Let them know now or bookmark this post for the next storm.

ADDITION: If you rent a single-family home or your lease explicitly states that you are responsible for clearing the snow, not your landlord, then you can be cited as well. Be sure to call your landlord or review your lease terms if you are not sure.

4 Comments on “Still Got Ice and Snow? Landlord should have it cleared by now.

  1. This came up on DCist yesterday. The interpretation was that the *renters* themselves are responsible, based on this bit of DC code:

    D.C. Code § 9-601:

    “It shall be the duty of every person, partnership, corporation, joint-stock company, or syndicate in charge or control of any building or lot of land within the fire limits of the District of Columbia, fronting or abutting on a paved sidewalk, whether as owner, tenant, occupant, lessee, or otherwise, within the first 8 hours of daylight after the ceasing to fall of any snow or sleet, to remove and clear away, or cause to be removed and cleared away, such snow or sleet from so much of said sidewalk as is in front of or abuts on said building or lot of land.”

  2. AJ,

    Thanks for the comment. And good point. People who live in a single family house should check their leases – or just ask their landlords – to see whose responible. If not, it’s just good for everyone involved to pitch in to help the community and yourselves.

    However, in most multi-unit apartments, the landlords or property managers are almost always responsible for removing snow and ice.

  3. I feel your article about snow clearing is misleading. you leave the responsibility to the landlord which is clearly not. Maybe in multi-units but the way your piece is written gives the impression under all conditions. In addition you might want to increase the preception of tenant resposibility. I have had tenants who pulled off smoke alarms because they were too lazy to change the batteries. luckily there was no fire and no one died but you seem to not discuss anything about tenant responsibilities and I feel you site in general focus to heavily on landlords being the culprits instead of more balance. Could you put a more clear posting on snow removal or we will have a lot of tenants that live in single family rowhouses think it’s not their responsibility even though it is mentioned in their lease or they have been told by their landlord.

  4. Yes, the DC law regarding snow removal can only be interpreted one way. The pertinent section states that (1) Property owners are responsible for (2) clearing snow and ice from (3) sidewalks abutting their property (4) within the first 8 daylight hours after the snow stops.

    I don’t know any other way to notify the public or the real estate agency immediately:
    The sidewalk in front of **4315 and 4319 Harrison Street NW** has not been cleared of snow at all this season (or any winter in at least 5 years), nor has sand or de-icer been spread on it (which does not satisfy the law anyway).

    This is despicable! Elderly people live in those buildings and can’t get out. I’m not at all elderly, and I fell twice during one trip through there. This is negligence leading to posible severe injury and has to stop now.

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