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Dear Claire: Do I Have to Shovel the Sidewalk in Front of My House?

Unraveling the Sidewalk Dilemma: Who’s Responsible and Why It Matters

Today on Dear Claire, we talk about sidewalks.

One question I get all the time is do I have to shovel my sidewalk when it snows?

The short answer is YES, you should. If you don’t, then someone can sue you when they trip and fall and break their leg. But the interesting part about this is that the sidewalk technically is under the government’s jurisdiction even though own it. So you cannot put a fence in the middle of your sidewalk and not let people walk on it, even though it is your land.

The city maintains the control over it and another instance, is if you have a tree in the front parking strip and the tree buckles the sidewalk, It’s a tripping hazard. Somebody could walk by, trip on it, break their leg, and they can sue you. It would be your liability and not the City’s.

Oftentimes the City will tag your property and you’ll get a letter from them saying, “hey, homeowner, you need to fix your sidewalk”. It is your responsible to hire a company to get it fixed and pay them.

It’s actually pretty interesting because although you own it, the City controls it, and gets to say how it is maintained

So there’s your very easy, simple (but not really) answer.

I hope you have a very happy holiday. And I won’t be seeing you next week, because it’s Christmas Eve and then the following is New Year’s Eve. Have a wonderful holiday. Stay safe and we’ll talk soon.

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