The Memphis German Club Message Board › “die Verpflichtung zum Reinigen, Schneeräumen und Streuen auf Gehwegen”
Ice and Snow Removal in Germany
As with most things, the Germans have very specific rules and regulations (die Satzung) concerning who is responsible for keeping roads, walkways, driveways and paths safe in the winter. There are similar laws concerning Winterpflichten (winter obligations) and Räum- und Streupflicht (shoveling and sanding obligations) in Austria and Switzerland. Since you can be sued for not carrying out your “winter duties,” it is a good idea for expats to know what they are and what the law requires. Who has to do what?
Virtually every town or city in Germany and the other German-speaking countries has a set of rules and regulations called the “Straßenreinigungssatzung” (“street cleaning statute”) or “Satzung über die Verpflichtung zum Reinigen, Schneeräumen und Streuen auf Gehwegen” (“statute concerning the obligation for the cleaning, removal of snow, and sanding on walkways”) – or something similar. Most communities have these regulations posted on the town’s official Web site (usually www.stadt.de and only in German).
Clearing snow off the roads is the responsibility of the community (Gemeinde), but, as in the US, only the main roads may be plowed after a big snow storm. Residential streets may not be cleared at all. When it comes to sidewalks and walkways, the town fathers almost always pass that duty on to homeowners.
In general, homeowners and landlords in German-speaking Europe are required to remove snow and ice from walkways on their property or in front of their property. Since landlords can and usually do pass this responsibility on to their tenants, renters also need to know about any possible winter duties. However, if you live in a large apartment building the Hausmeister, building manager, or someone else usually takes care of the grounds and walkways.
The snow-shoveling requirements are spelled out in great detail, even down to the minimum width of the cleared area (70 to 120 cm) and the time during which you must keep snow cleared away (from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on weekdays) – even if it continues to snow! Most of the regulations also specify where you can put the snow you have shoveled. You aren’t allowed to simply pile it in the street, for instance. The details may vary slightly from place to place, but the bottom line is that if you don’t comply with the local snow removal requirements, and someone slips and falls in front of your house or apartment, you could be on the losing end of a law suit.
Edited by Ingrid on Dec 27, 2010 11:25 AM