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Landlords & Tenants: Who’s Responsible for Snow Removal?

Indianapolis Tenant Shoveling SnowIf you hold a rental property somewhere with snowy winters, you may be pondering how to deal with the responsibility of snow removal. Regulations about snow removal for Indianapolis rental property owners are actually varied and sometimes complex. That being the case, it’s suggested to assign snow removal responsibilities accordingly well prior to the first flakes fall. But who should be doing it – you or your tenant?  That depends on various elements, which we analyze more extensively below.

Local Ordinance

Initially, to properly determine your snow removal responsibilities, look up your local ordinance. In many but not all localities, there are local laws on the books requiring property owners to remove snow from adjacent public sidewalks and driveways, usually within a certain period (usually 24 to 48 hours). But in some locations, local ordinances go beyond simply requiring snow removal. They may also outline where the removed snow can and cannot be piled up.

Some cities may require property owners to remove snow from fire hydrants, benches, or common areas adjacent to their property. Others may limit where you can pile the snow (throwing snow in the road is against the law in many towns) or how high you can pile snow up next to a walkway. Some may even restrain what types of road salt or other deicing materials you can use on your walkways and driveways.

Despite what the local ordinances say, it’s suggested to take measures to stay away from getting hit with fines for improper snow removal.

Property Type

When dividing up snow removal responsibilities, who gets assigned the responsibility also depends on what type of rental property you own. For example, multi-family property owners are almost always responsible for snow removal. However, for single-family rental homes, the majority of owners and landlords may allocate the obligation of snow removal to the tenant.

This arrangement may succeed in various cases, especially if your tenant already handles yard maintenance and other basic tasks. However, it’s necessary to note that the local ordinances still apply, so you have to educate your tenant on proper snow removal practices to prevent running afoul of the law.

Tenant Ability

Another vital thing to consider is your tenant’s ability to perform snow removal tasks efficiently and punctually. If your tenant isn’t physically able to perform such responsibility or is considered a member of a protected class under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you may need to create other arrangements. Even though requiring a disabled tenant to do their snow removal is not technically illegal, a lack of consideration for your tenant could negatively affect tenant relations. In the circumstances like this, you may find the more ethical and profitable option to be hiring a professional Indianapolis property manager to do it for your tenant or simply doing it yourself if you want.

Lease Documents

The majority of single-family rental property owners request their tenants to handle snow removal. Also, if you intend to do the same, you should include clear language in your lease that outlines your tenant’s responsibilities involved in that work. Another best practice is to add any related information from local ordinances if your tenant needs to follow specific rules. Not only can clear lease documents help your tenant understand their responsibilities regarding snow removal, but they can also be an invaluable resource should a dispute arise.

On the flip side, if you want to provide snow removal, it is advisable to outline that in the lease as well. You must also add expectations related to that service, including moving vehicles or not parking on the street during snow removal service times.


One of the significant benefits of hiring a property management company like Real Property Management Faith is that we will assist you in determining how best to handle snow removal at your rental property. Contact us online today to discover more about our full range of Indianapolis property management services.

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