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Who is Responsible for Shoveling Sidewalks in Boston – Landlord or Tenant?

Boston’s first snowfall of the 2015 / 2016 winter season has prompted the question – who is responsible for shoveling the sidewalks and walkways of rental properties? According to the city of Boston, landlords, not tenants, are responsible for shoveling the sidewalks. However, lease terminology and recent changes to a 125-year-old law have resulted in some confusion among landlords and renters alike. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer Today.

Facts and Figures – 

Boston Landlords Are Responsible for Snow and Ice Removal: If the landlord does not comply, the tenant can notify the city by dialing 311. The “Massachusetts Rule” law, which was in place for 125 years, permitted property owners to leave naturally accumulating snow on walkways without fear of liability. However, that law changed in 2010 and now landlords are responsible for keeping their property entirely free of dangerous snow or ice accumulation.

Transfer of Responsibility: Although it is the landlord’s responsibility to remove snow and ice from property walkways and sidewalks, it is not uncommon for this responsibility to be transferred to the tenant in the rental lease agreement. If the tenant signs off on this agreement, then he or she is responsible for removing snow and ice.

Owners Beware: But what if someone gets hurt? If someone suffers injuries after slipping on snow and ice, who is at fault? If the accident occurs on another’s property, the owner of that property can be held liable in any personal injury or property damage lawsuits. This is even true if the property is rented and the responsibility for snow and ice removal has been transferred to the tenant in the rental lease.

The Three Hour Rule: Once snowfall stops, property owners have three hours during which to clear the sidewalks. If the snowfall occurred overnight, the property owner has three hours after sunrise to complete this task. If snow is not cleared within that time frame, the property owner may face fines.

Avoid the Ambulance: Slip and falls account for over 1 million emergency room visits every year. According to the CDC, in 2005 more than 15,000 people age 65 and older died from slip and fall injuries. If you are a property owner, it is essential to keep walkways and sidewalks free of dangerous snow and ice accumulation at all times. Not only will this protect you from lawsuits, it may save lives.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Injury Lawyers Serving Boston for Over 50 Years

If you have been injured in a weather-related slip and fall accident, you may be facing mounting medical bills and property damages. In addition, if you are temporarily unable to return to work, lost wages could exacerbate the problem. Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common causes of serious injury in Massachusetts personal injury lawsuits. They can lead to long-term health problems and emotional suffering. Snow and ice accumulation substantially increase the risk of this type of accident. The legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP has extensive experience with slip and fall injury cases, and we have an impressive track record of obtaining compensation for our clients. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.