Sidewalks must be kept free of snow, ice

by Petra Lessoing 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Photo by PeJo/
According to German law, home owners or renters must keep sidewalks free of ice and snow between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Each German community has rules regarding snow and ice on sidewalks to avoid accidents. Residents living off base should check their rental contracts to find out about their 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 off so pedestrians can walk. In some communities, residents are not allowed to use salt because it can damage the environment and sidewalk tiles may become loose.

House 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. They don’t have to remove snow if it continues snowing, but 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 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 for medical treatment, compensation and sometimes even a fine.