Sanding and snow removal Who is obliged to clear snow from the sidewalks?

Berlin · Most municipalities require property owners to sand and do snow removal on sidewalks that are adjacent to their properties. However, they can also delegate this duty to others if needed.

 Your landlord requires you to do snow removal and sanding, but you are prevented from doing so? Then you must get someone to do the work.

Your landlord requires you to do snow removal and sanding, but you are prevented from doing so? Then you must get someone to do the work.

Foto: dpa-tmn/Felix Kästle

Many people are thrilled when the first snowflakes fall from the sky in winter. But the white splendor does not only mean fun - it is also linked to certain duties. Because sleet and wet snow can make sidewalks slippery and become a danger for pedestrians. Property owners are called upon to ensure that nothing happens.

They have to ensure that the sidewalk in front of their property as well as the entrance to the house are cleared and sanded, says Younes Frank Ehrhardt, managing director of Haus & Grund Hessen. "Otherwise, there is a risk of claims for damages as soon as a passerby is injured in a fall.”

However, owners can effectively delegate the clearing duties to third parties - be it through a clause in the lease agreement to the tenants or by contracting out to a professional snow removal service. However, owners are still obliged to check, at least on a random basis, whether the snow removal and sanding is being carried out appropriately. In the event of persistent snowfall, clearing must be carried out several times a day.

Exactly how much of the sidewalk in front of the house is to be cleared is determined by the municipalities. According to Ehrhardt, a path of 80 centimeters to 1.50 meters is common. The access to one's own front door or garage only has to be clear of snow on a width of around 50 centimeters.

On weekdays, the stretches must be kept passable between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., and between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Sundays and holidays. During heavy snowfall, owners are required to clear and sprinkle sand several times a day, according to Ehrhardt. In the case of black ice, there is even an immediate sanding requirement.

Salt should not be used, advises Roland Stecher of the consumer advice center in Bremen. Because of its damaging effect on plants, soils and groundwater, the use of salt is prohibited in the vast majority of municipalities. However, sand and gravel are permitted. If unable to do the snow removal and sanding, one must find help.

If property owners hire a company or their own maintenance person to do the clearing and sanding, the expenses for this can be passed on to the tenants, says Younes Frank Ehrhardt. These are then reflected in the operating costs statement.

If the obligation lies with the tenants, they must ensure the snow removal and sanding, even if they are at work or on vacation or sick leave. If they are prevented from doing so themselves, they must find someone to perform the work. Anyone who repeatedly neglects their duty risks termination of the tenancy.

Tenants and property owners can protect themselves against claims by taking out personal liability insurance. Those who rent out their property also need homeowners and landowners liability insurance.

Costs for contracting out are tax deductible

Those who hire someone to perform the snow removal and sanding services can deduct parts of the costs from taxes, according to Lohnsteuerhilfe Bayern. However, only 20 percent of the costs are taken into account in the tax return, up to a maximum of 4,000 euros. Costs for the sand must be covered by the customer; only labor, machine and travel costs are deductible.

In the case of owners who pass on the costs of winter maintenance to their tenants on a service charge statement, only the tenants benefit from the tax savings.

Important for deductibility: In order for the tax office to recognize the costs, the individual items must be shown separately on the invoice, according to Lohnsteuerhilfe Bayern. In addition, the invoice amount must be bank transferred - paying cash does not count.