Snow Removal: Rights and Duties

Snow Removal: Rights and Duties


The streets are hidden under a thick blanket of snow. That may look good, but wait: is not there a requirement in Germany for snow clearing?

For homeowners there is a duty to clear snow all over Germany

The communities can not secure all roads and roads continuously against black ice and snow. The legislator therefore provides German homeowners with a binding obligation to clear snow and spread in accordance with §§ 823 ff. BGB.

At the entrance to the house and adjoining sidewalks, a secured path of at least 1, 20 and 1.50 meters exist. Beware of corner properties, because the duty to maintain traffic is valid for every adjacent street. Anyone who wishes to claim that the regulation only applies to the access road is therefore wrong. Only traffic-free private roads and private places with no need for transport are exempted from the traffic safety obligation.

The obligation to clear snow does not necessarily begin with the first snow fall. As soon as the general weather conditions suggest smoothness, the law takes effect. From which time each property must be ice and snow-free, is subject to local regulations. On average, a period is provided between seven o'clock in the morning and eight o'clock in the evening. On Sundays and public holidays, the beginning shifts to eight or nine o'clock in the morning.

In the event of heavy and prolonged snowfall, the legal situation is disputed: In general, the obligation to maintain public safety remains (Saarbrücken Higher Regional Court, AZ: 5 U 86/06) , However, in the past, the principle of proportionality has in part compelled Richter to grant an exemption to homeowners in such cases (OLG Naumburg, AZ: 5 U 86/06).

Slipped passers-by can sue homeowners

Slip passers-by onto undisguised ones Because of because the Räumpflichtige disregarded his duty, so can claim for damages. This also applies if owners indicate via signs that entry is at their own risk. However, a sign with such hints still makes sense. In the event of a claim for damages, the claim may be reduced in this way.

Following a ruling by the Thuringian OLG, fallen passers-by can only claim half of their actual damage anyway. For example, caution is required of them in the case of alleged slippery roads, so that they are at least partly to blame for every overthrow.

How judges decide on a claim for damages is, for the most part, a matter of discretion. As a rule, the principle of proportionality applies in this case as well. For example, homeowners may well be acquitted of the claim if they have not performed their duty for the first time.

In case of doubt, the homeowner's liability insurance will apply in the event of a claim if he does not negligently and permanently transfer the clearing law. Landlords are responsible for house and building insurance.

If landlords transfer the duty of care to tenants

homeowners usually shovel themselves. The right of way determines the point from which the neighbor is responsible. In the absence or illness, homeowners must provide for replacement. Winter services, however, only rarely take care of rooms on private property and sidewalks. Therefore, judges usually decide in favor of old and sick people who have proven to unsuccessfully seek replacement (Landgericht Münster, AZ: 8 S 263/05).

Landlords usually employ a professional winter service or caretaker for the clearing work. The costs incurred may be added to the tenants in the additional costs. You can also transfer the duty of care through a lease clause, but also to tenants. In an accident, they are usually still responsible, because they have a duty to control.

Attention: Lacking equal rights is inadmissible for the transfer of the duty of care to tenants. Landlords may call tenants only in equal parts to rooms. Exceptions are seniors and the sick.

Salt should only be used on the road in exceptional cases

Sprinkling is part of the winter service for traffic safety. Although salt thaws snow, the environment causes road salt but problems. It causes wounded paws on animals, soil makes it barren and paved roads are damaged. With the condensation water, the grit gets into the canal, where it destroys microorganisms.

There is therefore a ban on road salt throughout Germany. Only in exceptional cases may it be used in moderation, in some places as sprinkling mixture on stairs. Gravel, sand and sawdust have replaced the salt as a grit but now almost completely. Anyone who does not adhere to the salt ban will face fines.

In order to get to know the exceptions of the salt regulations, as well as all other traffic safety regulations, homeowners are best placed in contact with the community. The wintry clearing and scattering light is a science in itself that is subject to local regulations. Therefore, play it safe.

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