Keep sidewalks free of snow, ice

by Petra Lessoing
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Courtesy photoOff-base residents must sweep the snow off their sidewalk.
Courtesy photo
Off-base residents must sweep the snow off their sidewalk.

As a way to avoid accidents, each German community has rules regarding the removal of snow and ice on sidewalks. Residents living off base should check their rental contracts to find out about these obligations. The rental contract clearly states who must keep sidewalks free of ice and snow.

Usually, landlords turn this obligation over to their renters. As soon as there is a danger of black ice, renters or landlords must throw salt, sand or gravel on walkways.

Snow must be swept so pedestrians can walk. In some communities, residents are not allowed to use salt because it can damage the environment and loosen or damage sidewalk tiles.

Home owners or renters don’t have to clear the whole sidewalk of ice and snow, but they must clear a path so two people can get by. Renters or landlords don’t have to remove snow if it continues snowing, but they must remove it 15 to 30 minutes after it stops snowing.

The snow has to be removed in a way that does not impact traffic. In most communities, sweeping snow and throwing salt, sand or gravel must be done between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on workdays. On weekends, the snow removal obligation starts at 9 a.m. The general rule is: first sweep off the snow, then throw salt, sand or gravel.

In extreme weather, the cleaning procedures must be repeated throughout the day. If home owners are, according to their contract, obliged to take care of cleaning the sidewalks, they must find somebody to do it for them if they won’t be able to because of sickness, work or other obligations.

If pedestrians injure themselves on sidewalks that have not been properly swept, home owners or renters can be held liable, and they may have to pay for medical treatment, compensation and sometimes even a fine.