Snow removal done right

Geoff Roberts
Geoff Roberts | 3 min. read

Published on February 22, 2011

If you live east of Nebraska, chances are you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about snow lately. As cozy and idyllic as it can be to watch flutter to the ground when you’re safely tucked away by the fire in your living room, snow is a very different beast when you’re forced to contend with it. Particularly this winter, when a new blizzard seems to be blowing in on a weekly basis.

As a property manager, contending with mother nature is part of the job description. Some cities even have laws mandating that you are legally responsible for removing snow and ice from the public sidewalks in front of your property. Even if your town doesn’t have such laws, it’s still in your best interest to get rid of that snow. Should someone happen to slip and fall in front of your property—which is all too easy to do right now—you may be legally and financially responsible.

Let’s begin by looking at the areas you’ll want to shovel:

  1. A clear path leading from the sidewalk to your property’s entry door.
  2. A clear path leading from the driveway/parking lot to the closest door.
  3. The driveway.
  4. The sidewalk area around/on your property.

In addition to shoveling these areas, you will also want to scatter salt and/or sand to ensure people don’t slip on any remaining ice.

With that in mind, what are your options for removing snow and ice?

Do it yourself.
If you opt to remove snow yourself, remember, it can be hard work. If you live in a snowy climate, chances are you’ve seen news stories about individuals suffering cardiac arrest while shoveling. Aside from this worst-case scenario, anyone can cause themselves physical injury, pain, or simply more work than is actually necessary when shoveling if done incorrectly. Before you begin, be sure to check out these 16 Cardinal Rules for Snow Shoveling.

Offer tenant discounts.
If you have a willing and able tenant, discounting rent in return for snow shoveling can create a great win-win situation. Your tenant saves on rent, and you get your snow removed. If you choose this option, figure out the going rate for snow shoveling in your area (you should be able to determine this with just a few minutes on your local Craigslist page). Have your tenant track time spent shoveling, then multiply by the average snow-shoveling rate. This amount should then be deducted from the tenant’s rent. One word of caution: be sure to make it clear to your tenant beforehand that you expect them to do a thorough job. If you are embarking on this scenario for the first time, check out the tenant’s work upon completion to make sure it’s a job well done and that all necessary areas are clear and safe.

Hire a contractor.
Hiring a contractor to take care of your snow is likely the most hassle-free way of getting rid of that snow. Again, Craigslist can be a great resource.  Alternatively, ask fellow property managers and owners for recommendations. If you’re really on top of things, you may want to locate a contractor before the snow hits and their schedules fill up.

Be sure to click here for more tips on winterizing your property.

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Geoff Roberts

Geoff is a marketer, surfer, musician, and writer. He lives in San Diego, CA.

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