France commune

Who is responsible for snow or ice removal?

Reader question: After the snow, should I clear the sidewalk in front of my house?

The local commune is responsible for keeping roads and sidewalks clean – but many have passed local bylaws making households responsible for the sidewalks, while the commune takes care of the roads.

Paris and Lyon did, as well as many smaller towns and villages.

Check the rules in your own municipality, as they vary. If it is your responsibility, you are also responsible for any injuries caused by someone slipping in snow or ice outside your home.

Most home insurance policies include cover for cases like this, but you may have to pay the first $100 or so.

The rules for clearing a sidewalk are quite strict.

A flat bottomed shovel is recommended and care should be taken to ensure that no ruts remain.

The cleared area should be wide enough for two people to pass through, and the snow should be piled in a neat line along the property side of the sidewalk.

If the road is icy, salt (never hot water) should be used. Most municipalities offer it, but if not, you have to buy your own.

Eco-friendly alternatives such as gravel or ashes can also be used, especially near plants.

In apartments, it is usually the caretaker who is responsible for clearing the sidewalks, but the responsibility sometimes lies with the trustee.

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Author: Sarah Bright-Thomas, Bright Lawyers. Bright Avocats provides legal advice in French

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