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Who is responsible for shoveling my sidewalk?

New York City can get a lot of snow, and that means that somebody has to be doing the snow removal. Who is responsible for this sometimes arduous task?

Well, that depends, and it's a bit complex. All residents, property managers, homeowners and businesspersons may have a responsibility to clear their premises and adjacent areas like sidewalks and inner walkways of ice and snow,

The city's Administrative Code has this to say about who must remove the accumulation and by when:

"Every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or other person having charge of any lot or building must clean snow and ice from the sidewalks adjacent (i.e., in front of, on the side of, in back of) to their properties."

Now here's the tricky part -- calculating when the snow and ice must be removed. You must pay attention to what time it stops snowing. If it abates between 7 a.m. and 4:49 p.m., you have four hours. However, you get a major break if the snow stops between 5 p.m.and 8:59 p.m., as you then have 14 hours to clear your area. When it slacks off at some point after 9 p.m. but before 7 a.m., get an early start, as you only have until 11:a.m.

Does all of that confuse you? That's understandable. The rule of premises liability is that the occupant, owner or property manager has a duty to maintain a hazard-free environment that poses no threat to customers, visitors or even just passers-by. Liability may be assigned to the homeowner or businessperson who failed to shovel and salt the sidewalk if you slip and fall on their premises.

Source: The City of New York Department of Sanitation, "Snow Removal: Your Responsibilities," accessed Dec. 22, 2017

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