Winter maintenance swings into full effect in Massachusetts with snow being the main culprit. Before 2010, property owners were not held responsible for any tenant or property injuries caused by snow. Since then, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that all property owners are liable for snow removal.
Snow Removal Responsibility Overview
In single-family homes, tenants hold the responsibility for removing snow with landlords required to ensure maintenance tasks are performed. However, if a tenant is unable due to disability or age, there are leniencies. Multi-family homes require landlords to be in charge of snow removal that meets local ordinances.
In special circumstances, it may be necessary to look back to the rental property lease agreement to get clarification on who is liable for snow removal.
Massachusetts Snow Removal Law Overview
Massachusetts law states that each city and town determines the time and manner of snow and ice removal. For example, in general, residents can’t shovel snow, ice, and slush from driveways into the street. Boston requires businesses to have snow removal complete within three hours after snowfall. If there is snow overnight, the time extends to three to six hours post-sunrise. Landlords must keep entrances and exits in safe condition which includes stairways, balconies, and bridges.
Failure to remove ice promptly can lead to fines which are determined by whether you own a residential, commercial, or apartment complex. The average claim for a snow or ice-related injury is about $33,000.
Begin looking for snow removal companies before the winter season hits. You can research online different plowing companies in the area and their estimates. You can also find companies through referrals.
When searching for a snow removal company, they should be reliable, provide timely service, complete thorough work, be efficient, and give correct money estimates.
When Plowing Companies are Not an Option
Even when plowing is not possible, the landlord still must remove snow. You can use tools like snow blowers and shovels to remove all ice and snow that has accumulated. However, this does come with risks.
When getting ready to shovel or snowplow, take note of these tips:
- Wear appropriate clothing and layers
- Use a lightweight shovel
- Always lift snow by bending the knees
- Do not overload the shovel with too much snow or ice
- Put snow away from the street
- Take breaks
Snow concerning property management can create many lingering questions. Who is responsible for removal and what are the best practices? In Massachusetts, there will be many instances where snow plays a factor in your property. Reach out to us for any questions on maintaining your property in regards to snow removal.