Home Ownership During the Winter Season

As I was shoveling out from beneath last night’s storm I was reminded of the duties and obligations that homeowners have during the Winter Season. Depending on where you live, homeowners may have specific responsibilities to remove ice and snow from sidewalks, walkways, rooftops, and to maintain ice-melting chemicals in a specific manner.

Storage of ice-melting chemicals: If you live near a water supply or ground water supply be careful how you use and where you store ice melt or any other snow-removal chemicals. If you live near such a water access, M.G.L. c. 85 s. 7A requires that you store such chemicals “in a solid frame storage shed to insure against ground leaving and airborne pollution of the surrounding property.”

Town By-Laws: Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 40 s. 21 towns have the authority to create by-laws and ordinances relative to snow removal from sidewalks and

protection from falling snow and ice from roofs.

Injury and Notice to Owner: If you happen to suffer an injury – slip-and-fall, falling ice, etc. – as a result of a homeowner not properly maintaining their land, pursuant to M.G.L. c. 84 s. 21, the injured party must notify the homeowner within 30 days.

Bottom Line: If you are a homeowner, purchaser, realtor, take 10 minutes to contact the town public works department and find out your responsibilities and obligations. Each town is different and a quick telephone call may help prevent a serious headache later.

Side Tip: If you are thinking of selling your home make sure your walk, steps, railings and drive-way are free from snow and ice. If you are a realtor / agent, I suggest keeping extra salt and sand in your vehicle trunk in case you need to lay some down before an open house. Also, shovel out walkways to: sheds, bulkhead doors, fuel points, and porches. Potential Buyer’s likely will want to look / inspect these things and will be turned off if a mountain of cold, slushy snow is in the way.

I wish you all the best,

Josh Robbins

Of Counsel

Scafidi, Juliano & Hurd, LLP

310 Washington Street, Suite 201

Wellesley, Massachusetts 02481

(T): 781-210-4710

(F): 781-210-4711

(E): jrobbins@sjh-law.com


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