Snow Removal For Rrental Homes

I will be renting a home and was wondering how to handle the responsibility of snow removal for the driveway and sidewalk.
Do most of you make it the tenant responsibility or is this something you include as part of your maintenance and upkeep? I am planning to make this the tenants responsibilty and was wondering how that will fly. Thanks

Single or multi? Staight rental or lease option?

For my rentals, in the case of SFH’s, the tenant does it as part of the lease agreement. For small multi’s, one tenant does it for a small reduction in rent.

Here in NYC, if I hired a service, they wouldn’t be able to get to it in a huge storm anyway.

That was my concern. With the severe Winters here in Cleveland , even if I did hire a service, it might be days before they could get to it. Two weeks ago we got blasted with a snowstorm that dumped over a foot of snow. Private snow plow companies were backed up for days trying to keep up. I guess that answers my question// Let the tenant be responsible.

If it’s a SF property, snow removal normally falls into the same category as lawn maintenance…it’s the tenant’s responsibility…


I had the misfortune of having a vacant rental one January some years back, and hired a service. They couldn’t get to my place the first 4 days, and by the fifth, it was a foot of ice. They gave up on it.

Had an REO two doors down from me, and a service hired by the bank management company came by a week later after another big storm, after I witnessed numerous slip and falls. Three guys tried chopping the ice, and one finally rang my doorbell, and asked if I had any “charcoal fluid”. I didn’t have any, they got some from a nearby 7-11, and tried to light up some 2 by 4’s to melt the ice. They left the sorry mess behind when that didn’t work, on top of a foot of ice.

I never had problems with snow not shovelled by tenants. I just make sure they got shovels and “snow melt” at the beginning of the season, since these were typical excuses for not getting to it. I call them before a snow storm to remind them.

For some strange reason, a local Home Depot had piles of “snow melt” one August, I picked up about 8 to 10 bags, dropped them off at various rentals. I got some funny looks.

From what I seen, the services are useless when an area is hit with a foot or more of snow.

It really depends on the individual service company. Some near me do contract only and only service a limited number of contracts so they are always prompt and efficient, of course this comes at a premium price.


Here in NYC, they couldn’t get to places often because streets leading to, or leading from somewhere were not plowed by the authorities. The guy doing my vacant rental tried for several days, called me each day, but got stuck himself on the way.

This happened again two weeks ago, when the authorities dropped the ball again on plowing.

And when they get there, there’s nowhere for the crew to doublepark their trucks, (since streets wide enough for two cars becomes one lane when plowed), hop out and do sidewalks. Not like more rural areas, where roads get plowed sooner, services just come down the streets, up the driveway, and then onto the sidewalks.

In these big storms, tenants are stuck home with nothing to do. Or they have to dig themselves out anyway. My biggest challenge is to make sure tenants have no excuses not to shovel. A few seasons back, we forgot to check for shovels at the beginning of the season, and one guy claimed that neighbors borrowed the shovels the prior season and never returned it, so he CAN’T get to it. Only learned of it when snow started falling.

We bought shovels by during the storm so he can get started. We keep shovels at each rental, and extras ourselves.


It is necessary to understand the law and case law in your state. Here in Ohio, case law takes the position that tenants in single family homes are generally responsible for snow removal. 'Therefore, I require the tenants in my SFH rentals to do the snow removal.

I do the snow removal in all of my apartment buildings myself. I have a pickup truck with tube sand in the back. It does very well on slippery roads. I do the snow removal for 2 reasons.

  1. I can ensure that it is done promptly and correctly. Dee posted lately of a maintenance man that didn’t do a complete job causing a tenant to fall and be injured.

  2. If you have a tenant do the snow removal and they slip and fall, they will sue you and win because they are now your employee. Do you have worker’s comp for them? Do you withhold pay from them? These are real issues.



The funny thing with NYC is they have regulations on snow removal from sidewalks, I recall, withinin so many hours of the end of the snowfall, else they hit you with a fine. Then, owners risk lawsuits from slip and falls. This despite the fact that streets are not plowed in a timely fashion, and I can’t get to the rentals, during and soon after snowstorms.

Balance that against the risk of a tenant injuring himself shovelling, which hasn’t happened yet in 25 years.

I don’t think I’ll get much sympathy in a slip and fall lawsuit if my excuse is “I don’t have workman’s comp for my tenant, and I was afraid he’ll get injured shoveling, and the city didn’t plow the street, so I couldn’t get there. That’s why it wasn’t shovelled”.

I see more dangers days after snow removel where snow and ice melting off rooftops, dripping onto sidewalks during the day, freezing at night. Unless I can be in front of all my rentals all at once when people walk to train stations early in the mornings, I can’t see keeping sidewalks clear without the help of tenants.

You guys really should move to areas suitable for human habitation. The only thing my snow blower ever did for me was I bet my neighbor when I moved to Houston from (the frozen north) Virginia that he couldn’t figure out what it was. He guessed it was a roto-tiller and I won $10.

Virginia is the frozen north? LOL Come up to CT, it is supposed to get down to about -25*F tonight with the windchill.

Is there any way to avoid being responsible for removal with multi-family buildings? Obviously this would hinge somewhat on local laws, but couldn’t owner responsibility be disclaimed in the lease agreement?

Seems like a no-winner to me. If you hire a service, expect them to not perform when it really counts. If you don’t hire a service, you can do it yourself, but frankly I didn’t get into this business to shovel dozens of times the ammount of snow I am already responsible for at my own home. There’s basically no good option for multi-fams.

The only other option is having one tenant responsible for it as mentioned above but that comes with its own set of problems that were mentioned here. Yeah, snow generally sucks anyway you look at it. It’s the one thing that is really time sensitive, stuff like mowing the lawn is never a problem since a few days plus or minus won’t get you sued.