Sidewalks must be clean of snow, ice

by Petra Lessoing
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

German communities have rules that oblige house owners to keep sidewalks free of ice and snow. Renters living off-base should check their rental contracts to find out about their obligations.

Usually house owners turn over this obligation 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 off so pedestrians can walk. NOTE: In some communities it is not allowed to use salt because it can damage the environment and cause sidewalk tiles to become loose.

House owners or renters don’t have to free the whole sidewalk of ice and snow, but to an extent so two people can get by. They don’t have to sweep snow if it continues snowing, but must remove it about 15 to 30 minutes after it stops snowing.

The snow has to be swept in a way that it 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 the snow then throw salt, sand or gravel.

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

If pedestrians get hurt due to sidewalks that were not properly cleaned, house owners or renters can be held liable. They might have to pay the medical treatment, compensations and sometimes even a fine.