As snow and ice continue to come through Western New York this winter, if you own a home, are you responsible for clearing the sidewalk in front of your house?

The short and surprising answer is Yes and No. According to the law office of Stuart DiMartini's website, in New York State outside of New York City, the law does not require residential property owners to clear the sidewalks of snow and ice.

From a legal perspective, if you live in New York State and own real property, the law favors you not doing anything in relation to removing snow and ice from the sidewalks abutting your property, unless there is a specific statute or ordinance imposing tort liability for your failure to do so.l;.lk;e78

But the local city, town, and county ordinances would trump the state law and for a place like the City of Buffalo, the shoveling of sidewalks fall onto the property owner.

In the city of Buffalo according to ordinance 413-50, all snow must be removed by 9 am or the property owner could face a fine.

It shall be the duty of every owner or occupant of any premises abutting any public street to remove, before 9:00 a.m., all snow and ice which may have fallen upon the sidewalk abutting said premises. In case said sidewalk is not paved its full width, it shall be necessary to remove such snow or ice from a space three feet in width. The owner or occupant of lands fronting or abutting on any street, highway, traveled road, public lane, alley or square shall make, maintain and repair the sidewalk adjoining his lands and shall keep such sidewalk and the gutter free and clear of and from snow, ice and all other obstructions. Such owner or occupant, and each of them, shall be liable for any injury or damage by reason of omission, failure or negligence to make, maintain or repair such sidewalk or failure or negligence to keep such sidewalk and the gutter free and clear of and from snow, ice and all other obstructions.

Most towns in Erie County also call for the owners of the property where the sidewalk is to maintain it and clear it of snow and ice.

Down in the city of Olean, it also falls on the property owner to remove snow and ice from the sidewalk.

It shall be the duty of the owner and occupant, jointly, of every parcel of real estate adjoining a public sidewalk, whether the parcel of real estate is occupied by a structure or not, to keep such sidewalks adjoining such property free from snow and ice for the full paved width of such sidewalk.

The best bet for you to avoid fines and lawsuits if someone is injured during a slip and fall on the sidewalk in front of your home is to make sure the sidewalk is clear of snow and ice.

If you are not sure about what the rules are, you can always contact your town, village, or city hall and ask.


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