Some renters in Toledo forced to dig themselves out from snow storm

Legal experts say it’s the landlord’s responsibility to keep common areas of the premises safe.
Published: Feb. 17, 2021 at 12:25 AM EST
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MAUMEE, Ohio (WTVG) - Even with local snow plows and other road crews working throughout the night, not all streets or parking lots were easy to navigate after a near record-setting snowfall in the Toledo area Monday night.

Multiple apartment complex tenants from various properties reached out to 13abc citing that no plowing or shoveling had been done after the storm.

“It hasn’t been plowed in over a week,” says renter Jamie Kubicek of Quail Ridge Apartments in Maumee. “I just want them to come plow our driveway. It’s just unfair, we’ve had tenants outside all day with shovels, shoveling our own walkways. Management should be doing that, someone should be out here shoveling or plowing or something it’s not the tenant’s responsibility. That’s why we rent.”

Are landlords responsible for snow removal?

We reached out to George Thomas, Vice President and General Counsel with the Fair Housing Center for the answer. Thomas tells us Ohio’s Landlord Tenant Act states that landlords must “keep all common areas of the premises in a safe and sanitary condition.”

“This would include common areas such as walkways leading to multiple units between apartments for example,” explains Thomas. “The landlord should keep the walkways clear of safety hazards such as ice and snow. Also, landlords cannot modify their obligations under the Landlord Tenant Act through the lease agreement. In other words, the lease cannot impose this obligation on the tenant.

“In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act may offer tenants or other members of the public with disabilities certain rights against an apartment complex that does not keep the sidewalks clear so that a person with disabilities can access the area,” adds Thomas.

Many tenants, in need to get to work or school, may still have to shovel themselves out.

Local attorneys caution this should not be done by shoveling the snow or ice onto another’s property, which could create legal implications.

Thomas also says not to call a snow removal service expecting your landlord to pay up.

“What the tenant should not do is try to just deduct an expense like that out of their rent. That could be kind of risky because the landlord could interpret that as non-payment of rent and try to pursue an eviction,” says Thomas.

Additionally, Thomas advises tenants to keep a written record of their correspondence with their landlord and keep email requests for maintenance like snow removal that could prove useful in a court case later on.

For more information from the Fair Housing Center, click here.

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