Winter weather has finally arrived here in New York City. That means snow and ice are just around the corner. Building owners must clear snow and ice from their sidewalks to create a path for pedestrians. Snow and ice removal responsibilities also include sidewalks next to bus stops and hydrants.
Failure to remove snow and ice within the time required by New York City's Administrative Code can result in a Department of Sanitation (DOS) violation. Fines range from $100 to $150 for the first violation, up to $350 for a third violation within 12 months of the first.
New York City does not accept complaints for snowy or icy sidewalks while snow is falling. When the snow stops determines when building owners need to clear the sidewalks.
If the snowfall ends:
- Between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sidewalks must be cleared within four hours.
- Between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Sidewalks must be cleared within 14 hours.
- Between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. Sidewalks must be cleared by 11 a.m.
Snow and Ice Removal
Building owners must clear the entire sidewalk. The Environmental Control Board (ECB) has issued violations against owners for clearing only a path through the snow.
If the snow or ice has frozen so hard that it cannot be removed, the city allows owners to place “ashes, sand, sawdust, or similar suitable material” within the same time limits. However, the sidewalk must still be cleaned thoroughly as soon as the weather permits.
New York City prohibits shoveling snow into the streets or on top of fire hydrants.
De-icing salt is not included in the materials specifically listed by the law for use on frozen snow and ice. While it's unclear whether the ECB would consider salt a “suitable material,” building owners should exercise caution.
Salt melts snow and ice. If the resulting water is not cleared or allowed to drain, it can re-freeze and make the sidewalk even more slippery, which could expose the building owner to a lawsuit.
Similarly, property owners need to beware of water that may drip from the building onto the sidewalk. During cold weather, this water can form ice, which must be removed.
For more information, visit the City of New York's online resources. For insurance-related questions, please call us at 877-576-5200 or leave a comment below. We're happy to help.