We have many more weeks of winter left in Okotoks and certainly, more snow. Few people actually enjoy shoveling snow. Many hope that a Chinook will arrive and melt it all away. But alas, big dumps of snow call for shovelling and that’s often when Okotoks residents start their grumbling about neighbourhoods who don’t do their part in clearing sidewalks.
If you are a renter, you might believe that your landlord is responsible for keeping walks and emergency exists safe and snow-free, and in most cases, you are probably correct. If you are a landlord, you might have passed this chore onto your tenant. If you are a home owner, you need to look at yourself in the mirror!
Snow removal is quite often the responsibility of the landlord, via a property manager, as it can be construed as maintenance under the Residential Tenancies Act. However, if it’s been otherwise identified in your lease agreement, it may fall to the tenant.
Often when there are large volumes of snow in a season, similar to what we’ve experienced in Southern Alberta this winter, it came be difficult for landlords to keep up with consistent shoveling. This is why often a landlord will state who is responsible for snow removal directly in the lease agreement so that there is no question as to who should be doing it.
This is mostly the case when a tenant is living in a single-family home or duplex contained on a city lot. Generally, the tenant is required to cut grass in the summer and thereby, shovel snow in the winter. People who live in apartment buildings or townhouse complexes likely have the benefit of a maintenance company, arranged for by the landlord, to shovel common areas including the parking lot.
It's a good idea for landlords to be vigilant, however, especially if the rental property is a detached home with a sidewalk in the front which must be shoveled in reasonable time following a snow storm as per the Town of Okotoks bylaws. It’s also a good idea to ensure that tenants carry insurance for their own protection in case someone slips on an icy walk. A tenant can be liable for this type of accident especially if the lease agreement with the landlord clearly states that it is his/her responsibility.
According to the Town of Okotoks, homeowners or occupants of a home have 24 hours after a snowfall to clear sidewalks. If you live in a residence that is on a corner lot, that’s probably a lot of sidewalk to take care of. Residents who don’t clear snow and ice can be subject to a fine.
And, here’s a little-known fact. When you shovel a sidewalk, you are not allowed, by law, to shovel snow onto the road. It must be shoveled onto the property.
Safety Beyond Sidewalks
Show should also be cleared in the window wells especially when there’s a suite in the basement. The vents of a home should not be covered with snow or iced-over as it would lead to poisonous carbon monoxide being contained in the home. Landlords can check up on these things but generally the tenant is responsible for these maintenance items. Landlords and tenants should stay on good terms and work together for the benefit of everyone concerned.
If you are a tenant in Okotoks responsible for keeping your walkways safe, you can get free sand made available by the Town of Okotoks. You must bring your own bucket or receptacle for the sand which is available at the Okotoks fire halls on Milligan Drive and Woodhaven Drive. Sand is also available at the Eco Centre.