Massachusetts Snow Removal Law is in Effect

A reminder if you’re a property owner in Massachusetts: by law you must remove or treat snow and ice on walkways and plow parking lots. You can now be held liable for injuries caused by snow and or ice on your property.

Some Massachusetts property owners are still unaware of this law that went into effect in July of 2010. The law applies to all property owners, both commercial and residential, throughout the state.

This Law Goes for City Owned Sidewalks in Front of Your Property as Well

In cities like Boston, Worcester, and Lynn, sidewalks in front of businesses or residences must be shoveled and safe to walk on. For instance, if you’re a property owner in Worcester you must remove snow and ice from sidewalks 10 hours after it stops snowing. The fine for failing to comply with this city ordinance is $75.00 per day.

In Boston, snow removal is required for the full width of the sidewalk or a minimum width of 42 inches.  You’ve got 3 hours after the snow stops to remove snow and ice, even if the snow was moved onto your property from a city plow. Failure to remove snow or ice from the sidewalk will result in fines of $50 per day that it’s not cleared.

Don’t Throw Snow Back Into the Street

After large snowstorms, you may have to get creative to figure out where you’re going to put the snow. Throwing snow into Boston city streets is prohibited. In Salem shoveling snow back into the street will cost you $75.00 the first time you do it, $150.00 the second time, and $200.00 for the third and each time after that. And in Lynn you’ll get fined $100.00.

Owners of vacant homes will have to keep walkways clear, too. Home buyers and real estate agents showing your property should be able to walk on your property safely.

The law isn’t limited to city dwellers. Mail carriers, meter readers, and delivery service workers are especially vulnerable to slips and falls during the winter months, so be sure to keep your home’s walkways and driveways are clear of snow and ice to help reduce the danger of serious injury. In fact, mail carriers will not deliver mail if your walkway is not cleared or deemed unsafe.

Homeowners may want to check their insurance policies to make sure they have sufficient coverage.

Tips for Snow Shoveling:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Lift with your legs
  • Don’t twist your upper body
  • Keep one hand close to the shovel blade for best leverage
  • Take frequent breaks – it’s not uncommon for people to have heart attacks while shoveling due to the strenuous nature of the activity

Remember if you wait too long to shovel, the snow may turn to ice and be difficult to remove.  And if you are unable to shovel yourself for health reasons, contact a neighbor or relative to find the best solution to getting your property cleared of snow and ice.

For the specific snow removal ordinance for your town, click the ordinances and bylaws for Massachusetts towns, find your town, and search for “snow removal.” If your town is not listed here, contact your local town or city hall for more information.

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