Laws on clearing snow and liability

71 posts in this topic

I use salt, or a mixture of sand and salt. I decide as I'm in the store looking at what's on sale. I do try not to use too much salt since I don't want to hurt my dogs' feet, but there are times when it is really needed and I don't want to be responsible for death or injury to the postman.

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I've just swept up the bit of snow that fell here this afternoon, and I've spread some sand mixed with a little salt on the pavement. I really hope we don't get much more of this.

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We couldn't find salt anywhere last year and ended up getting a substitiute- magnesium something or other.

It seems to leave a residue which prevents the ground from re-icing too easily.

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Am I the only one who finds a fresh snowfall is less likely to cause someone to slip than a cleared path?

 

 

We have to use that Rollsplit stuff that is supplied in a box beside the street around the corner from our house.

 

Lucky you,around here that box is locked and is for Stadt use only.

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Am I the only one who finds a fresh snowfall is less likely to cause someone to slip than a cleared path?

 

I can't agree. My accident in December 2009 happened on wonderful, feathery, freshly-fallen, uncleared snow and almost killed me three weeks later via pulmonary embolism. Fresh snow and a slight incline are evil.

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Here's something that will cheer everyone up - it's almost snow clearing time again!

 

Anyway, here's a question for all you clued-up TTers.

 

I live in a four apartment block, one of which the landlady lives in part-time. When I had my prospective tenant 'interview' with the LL many years ago, she asked (via my translator) about me helping out with the snow clearing. She said that it was her responsibility to clear the snow, but when she was not in the flat, could I do it. I said OK since I liked the flat.

 

So I clear the snow early mornings (with LL when she's here), doesn't happen so often, some years are worse than others of course and when I'm at work during the day or out of town, I think it doesn't get done when the LL is not here either.

 

My question is, am I still liable for any problems, even though I'm not officially responsible for clearing the snow at any time?

 

I've checked the contract (not so easy - the LL is a Professor of law and it's big enough to choke a racehorse..) and it was looked over by my company's housing lawyers before I signed it - nothing at all about snow clearing duty.

 

Asking around friends and at work, I get responses from one extreme to the other: "WAS?!? Are you crazy?? You move snow even though you don't have to? Why?" to "Great! There should be more people with your attitude in Germany..".

 

Thing is, I quite enjoy the snow clearing in a weird kind of way :) Gets me out the pit and some exercise early Morgs.

 

But I can't find the definitive answer on if I would be liable in law for Frau Biddy slipping on her arse after I've cleared it. Would it be me or the LL?

 

Thx!

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I'd say it depends on whether you committed to do the snow clearing. Even a verbal agreement is binding if it was meant to be a serious commitment.

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It's ALWAS the Landlord who is responsible/liable for any claims made. Always.

 

However, the LL afterwards could sue you for compensation if you neglected your duty. If he/she can prove that you were obliged to do so.

 

Do you have a Privathaftpflichtversicherung? No? Get one.

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I'm Versicherung'd up to the hilt.

 

I've asked the LL about it over the years and she repeated that it is her responsibility, but I thought I'd check it out with you guys (she being a big shot lawyer and all).

 

We get on with the LL very well, and she gives me presents (wine and stuff) with a "thanks for your help over the last year". Though she never specifically mentions it's for the snow clearing.

 

The LL is getting on a bit now and spends less and less of her time here.

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Oh yeah, and I know that she asks new tenants of the other 2 flats too about 'helping' with snow clearing.

 

It seems they don't say yes or no, they evade the question..

 

Thanks for your responses & help.

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Are we talking about the pedestrian path outside or inner paths in the property or I guess both? And I assume everyone is renting directly from her and not through a Hausverwaltung, if you think the shore is getting too consuming then you can talk to your landlord and tell her to hire a snow cleaning services, a simple service will clean the pedestrian path outside and it does not cost that much, it should be something around 70 to 150 EUR a year depending of the size of the path and it includes an accident insurance. The landlord will of course transfer this cost to the tenants, but split 4 ways it is not that much.

 

If the mailboxes are not directly on the pedestrian path and they are in a wall in the building that means the postman will have to use the inner paths then you are required to clean them as well. And simple snow cleaning services do not include this.

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Yes, it's the pedestrian path outside (not so much work), the inside courtyard/Innenhof and more importantly the entrance to the Tiefgarage (which has a very steep incline).

 

This all takes about 30-45 minutes to clear, depending on snow depth.

 

I don't mind doing it, just that I wanted to clear up the legality of me doing it even though it's not my responsibility, which sosarx has answered.

 

Now the question is whether I would go to prison if I cut in half a grumpy pedestrian with the snow shovel after they make a snide remark about my snow clearing ability or timeliness seeing as it would be my first offence?? :)

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think the simple answer to this is to get from her in writing that you are (sometimes) responsible for the snow-clearing.

then if anything does ever happen and you need to take legal action it's clear what the situation is.

as your LL has a legal background she will appreciate your concern.

good luck!

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Thanks Moonboot, but I think you miss my point a bit. I don't want to be sometimes responsible. I would like to continue to do it as now, out of the kindness of my heart, to help people out, but have no responsibility if anything goes wrong (if this is possible, hence my post :) ).

 

Better, I think, would be to try to get from the LL in writing that I am never responsible for the snow clearing and that she is fully responsible or? And then continue to clear snow anyway as before like the crazy (but friendly) guy I am :D

 

The reason why I posted was that I heard from a work colleague that there was a court case (which I cannot find any reference to) where a guy cleared snow from his neighbours property, helping them out, being a good neighbour. However, someone fell and injured themselves. And the court ruled that even though this friendly neighbour was not required to and had no responsibility to clear snow from his neighbours property, the fact that he did actually clear the snow made him liable to pay damages to the injured party. Whether this is true or not I do not know - maybe an urban myth?

 

This is almost the same situation that I find myself, except that I actually live in the apartment block which the responsible LL owns & lives in (sometimes).

 

If the above court case is true, and the law is clear on this, then I will probably refuse to clear the snow any more..

 

Thanks all!

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Even if LL hired a (professional) agency to clear her path for her, she's still legally responsible and liable. What's more, even if your contract had had a clause in it that moves the responsibility for snow/leaf clearing onto you, there is still the legal responsiblity up on the home owner to check that you have done it and done it properly. No excuses. There's a link at the top of this thread that clearly explains that (in German though, so you might want to get some help).

 

IANAL.

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My situation is a bit different because my landlady asked me as I moved in if I would take care of the snow clearing and when I said it's not a problem (she is over 80), she put it in the contract. However, she has said to me that she as the landlady is still legally responsible if somebody falls and when she has felt the need, she has gone out to spread some salt if she doesn't think I've used enough. I have haftpflicht insurance so they should take care of it if somebody falls and the bill ends up by me.

 

From what I found here: http://www.geld.de/private-haftpflichtversicherung-allgemeines-sicher-durch-den-winter-wer-haftet-bei-unterlassenem-winterdienst.html it says that the owner/landlord is responsible but can pass the responsibility over on the tenants if they put it in the rental contract or in the house rules. The landlord must keep an eye on things too and make sure the tenants are clearing the snow when they should.

 

I don't think you have any responsibility if it's not in your contract. She has asked you to do it and I suppose you said you will do it when you can. That does not mean that you have taken on the responsibility to it every day. It says there too that if a tenant is responsible for snow clearing, they are also responsible if they are at work, on holidays or sick and they would need to arrange for somebody else to do it. That may be the case with me but I don't see how it would be the case with you as you didn't sign anything.

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I have a small interjection. Okay, a big one.

 

Provided you live in Heidelberg proper, this applies: Satzung über die Verpflichtung der Straßenanlieger zum Schneeräumen, Bestreuen und Reinigen der Gehwege im Stadtkreis Heidelberg

 

Den Straßenanliegern obliegt es, innerhalb der geschlossenen Ortslage einschließlich der Ortsdurchfahrten die Gehwege nach Maßgabe dieser Satzung zu reinigen, bei Schnee zu räumen und bei Schnee- oder Eisglätte zu bestreuen.

(the street-adjacent residents have the duty to clean sidewalks, clear snow etc)

[...]

Straßenanlieger i. S. dieser Satzung sind die Eigentümer und Besitzer von Grundstücken, die an einer öffentlichen Straße (Straßen, Wege und Plätze) liegen.

(street-adjacent residents in this sense are both owners and occupants of properties adjacent to a public street)

[...]

Besitzer sind insbesondere Mieter und Pächter, die das Grundstück ganz oder teilweise nutzen.

(occupants in this sense are in particular renters using the property fully or partially)

[...]

Sind nach dieser Satzung mehrere Straßenanlieger für dieselbe Fläche verpflichtet, besteht eine gesamtschuldnerische Verantwortung

(should multiple street-adjacent residents be responsible for the same area there is a joint responsibility for the duty)

 

In other words, in Heidelberg all tenants and the owner of a property are equally responsible for clearing the sidewalk. If any of them fails to do so, the others have to pick up the slack. There is no sole responsibility of the owner. This is only regarding the sidewalk, not the clearing on the property itself (except public walkways on the property, such as - probably - to your mailboxes/entrance/trashcans etc).

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