Although we are now in the homestretch of the winter season it certainly does not mean that we will not have at least a few more snowstorms to deal with. If you are a property owner, it also means that you need to be familiar with the rules and regulations regarding snow and ice removal in Boston. In essence, if you own a residential home, rental property, or commercial property in the city of Boston, then it is necessary for you to fully understand the laws on snow removal and how they apply to you. For example, did you know that you may need to follow both the law that covers the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts and an ordinance that covers the city of Boston?
The bottom line is that it can be a bit confusing to say the least when it comes to who is responsible for what regarding the removal of snow and ice from your property. That is exactly why we wrote this article. It lays it all out for you in an easy-to-understand format. That way you will know for sure how the rules work and what you are responsible for when it comes to snow and ice removal in Boston.
Update to the law in 2010
First and foremost, in 2010 there was an update to the law that dictates the responsibilities for snow and ice removal throughout the entire Commonwealth.
The updated law places a far greater burden on property owners to keep their properties safe from snow and ice. In fact, the law centers around the premise that landlords have a legal duty to keep their property free from dangerous snow and ice. So, if you own real estate in Boston, you need to keep in mind that it is important to plow your driveway or parking lot, shovel, and remove snow and ice early and often from your property. You should also sand and salt the pathways and sidewalks. In order to do all these snow and ice removal tasks properly it takes a lot of hard work and dedication.
This holds especially true during periods of time when there are consecutive snowstorms since it can become incredibly difficult to keep up with all of that work. The snow and ice need to be removed in a timely manner; we will get into specifics shortly. Otherwise, you are taking the unnecessary risk of violating the state law and city ordinance. You are also taking the unnecessary risk of someone slipping and falling on the snow and or ice. Depending on the situation, as a property owner, you might be responsible from a legal standpoint.
That means if the party who slipped and fell on the snow at your property is injured, he or she can turn around and sue you in a court of law for any damages including medical expenses, lost time from work, and mental anguish, to name a few. That is why most landlords work with professional companies that specialize in snow and ice removal in Boston. That way you know that the job will not only get done, but it will get done the right way. This, of course, will significantly reduce the chances that you will be fined or sued, and that is the real goal here. So, let’s get started. The following information contains everything property owners need to know about snow and ice removal in Boston.
Snow and Ice Removal Information For Single Family Homeowners In Boston
According to a law that covers the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts “if a property owner knows or reasonably should know of a dangerous condition on its property arising from an accumulation of snow or ice, the property owner owes a duty to lawful visitor to make reasonable efforts to protect lawful visitors against the danger.” In essence, that means if you are a single-family homeowner then you need to figure out what snow and ice removal efforts are reasonable based on both the seriousness and probability of possible harm to others.
It also means that the snow removal efforts that are expected of a single-family homeowner, according to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, depend on a combination of things including the amount of foot traffic that typically occurs at the property, the risk level, and the encumbrance and cost of the snow and ice removal. For example, “reasonable” snow and ice removal vary between a single-family homeowner, and an apartment building or store owner where there may be far more foot traffic.
However, single family homeowners in Boston are responsible for creating pathways in and out of the property that are safe for visitors. This includes clearing driveways and walkways to the entrances of your home. The rules and regulations under the state law vary by city or town, however, most require that homeowners clear the sidewalks that abut their properties. In essence, it could be difficult for any visitors to access your property without using the sidewalk. That is why there is an ordinance in the city of Boston that directly address this, but we will get into that a little bit later.
Snow and Ice Removal Information for Multi- Family Homeowners and Commercial Property Owners In Boston
Did you know that Massachusetts snow removal laws include specific provisions for multi-family homeowners and commercial property owners? In essence, if you own a multi-family or commercial property you are responsible for snow and ice removal in order to ensure that the property is safe for both tenants and visitors. The law applies to all exterior access routes that are shared by multiple units and or are used for specific units. Since landlords are responsible for the safety of their tenants and any people who visit the property, this law makes sense. It goes without saying that snow and ice removal tasks are time consuming and or expensive.
That is why some landlords attempt to pass the snow and ice removal duty on to their tenants as a term in the lease agreement. That being stated, this may not be smart thing to do. The bottom line is that landlords are ultimately responsible for removing the snow and ice from their properties. That means that landlords can be fined by the city and are held legally and financially responsible if the tenants fail to remove the snow and ice. This holds true even if the tenants are responsible for snow and ice removal as part of their lease agreement. The bottom line is that if you own a property in Boston then the liability remains with you regarding snow and ice removal.
City Of Boston Snow Removal Ordinance For All Property Owners In Boston
Property owners in the city of Boston are 100% responsible for clearing the snow, ice, sleet, and/ or slush from the sidewalks and curb ramps that abut their properties and are adjacent to their properties. You need to do this within three (3) hours following the end of the snowfall unless it happens to snow overnight. If it does snow overnight, you must remove the snow, ice, sleet, and or slush from the sidewalks within three (3) hours after the sun rises. In addition, you cannot push or place any snow, ice, sleet, or slush from the sidewalks into the street.
You are also not allowed to push or place any snow, ice, sleet, or slush from your driveway into the street even if a city plow pushes snow, ice, sleet, or slush into your driveway. The sidewalks must be cleared to the bare pavement whenever possible. In the minimum, the overall surface level must be even. It is a smart idea to sand or salt the sidewalks as well. It will go a long way to help ensure that nobody will slip while walking on the sidewalks. The sidewalk must also be a minimum of 42 inches wide. This will allow for the passage of wheelchairs and strollers.
If you fail to adhere to the Boston ordinance you can be fined. That is why it is incredibly important for property owners in Boston to understand the snow removal ordinance. The city of Boston does not make any exceptions to the rules no matter what your situation is. They do suggest that you hire a professional snow removal expert in order to avoid the fines and to avoid injuries that can occur when removing snow.
Fines Under The Boston, MA Snow And Ice Removal Ordinance
If you own real estate in the city of Boston, you are responsible for abiding by the snow and ice removal ordinance. If you fail to abide by the snow and ice removal ordinance you could be fined. The fines actually vary depending on whether you own residential or commercial property, reside in a single-family home, or own a multiple unit apartment building or an apartment complex. The fines are also based on the amount of snow that needs to be removed.
A commercial property owner that fails to remove snow that amounts to less than one cubic yard will be fined $150 per incident. That fine doubles to $200 if there is more than one cubic yard of snow that has not been removed in a timely manner. Regarding residential properties of 16 units or more, the fine is $100 for less than one cubic yard of snow per incident, and $150 for over one cubic yard of snow per incident. Residential properties with less than 16 units are fined $50 for less than one cubic yard of snow per incident, and $100 for more than one cubic yard of snow per incident.
Snow and Ice Removal in Boston
In conclusion, the responsibilities of those who own real estate in Boston, MA are clear cut when it comes to snow and ice removal. The city of Boston has defined a set of rules and regulations that must be followed in conjunction with the rules and regulations as set forth by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. If you fail to abide by them, you will face unnecessary fines. In addition to these fines, it is even more important for property owners to ensure that their properties are free and clear of snow and ice so that anyone who lives at the property, works at the property, or visits the property is not in danger of being injured due to the snow and ice.
If you cannot or do not want to perform the snow and ice removal tasks yourself, we completely understand. It is back breaking and time-consuming work that needs to be performed under harsh winter conditions when it is cold and windy outside. The good news is that there is a simple solution that is both efficient and cost effective. Boston Pads property management services has got you covered. Boston Pads provides property owners with the right services for your property. We look forward to working with you.
Published February 21, 2021
Demetrios has pulled together the largest apartment leasing team in the Greater Boston Area and is responsible for procuring more apartment rentals than anyone in New England – with over 130k people finding their housing through his services. Demetrios is an avid real estate developer, peak performance trainer, educator, guest lecturer and motivational speaker.