If Owners Are Responsible For Sidewalk Maintenance, What About Liability?

By
Real Estate Agent with Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate 303829;0225082372

An interesting article by Michael Jacobs this morning got my attention. 

See: 

Attention Pasadena CA Sellers/Buyers -- The Housing Inspection Reportliability

However, it leads to the question, if owners are responsible for sidewalk maintenance, doesn't it follow that, if a sidewalk is in disrepair and poses a danger to passers-by, aren't those same home owners at risk for damages and payment for injuries suffered by folks walking, riding a bike, etc. on that sidewalk??

How many home buyers understand that they will be responsible for maintenance of that walk-way in front of their home?

While the article posted by Michael Jacobs applies only to a city in California, home owners across the country are at risk of liability for injuries suffered by individuals on sidewalks in disrepair.

Installation of sidewalks is often done by the municipality and paid for by the owner through a front foot benefit charge in their annual real estate tax bill.  The installation of the sidewalks, water, sewer, etc. installation can often be financed over decades, 20 plus years.  However, when repairs are needed to sidewalks, water/sewer components on the owner's property, the owner is faced with out of pocket charges that are not small amounts of money.

In communities with Homeowners' Associations or Condominium ownership, the association will maintain the "common elements" such as sidewalks, etc. 

Just another responsibility of home ownership of which many prospective home buyers are not aware.  Few cities will follow the Pasadena, CA example and have a municipal housing inspection prior to a sale of a property, however, home owners need to be aware of the risks of poor maintenance of these features that they may have taken for granted.

The time to determine responsibility for sidewalks, etc., is BEFORE buying, not after. 

 

Courtesy, Lenn Harley, Broker/Owner, Homefinders.com, 800-711-7988, serving home buyers in Maryland and Norther Virginia.

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Comments 11 New Comment

Ambassador
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Lenn Harley
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Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate

Richard.  I wasn't thinking of Crofton, but there are many areas in MD where the home owner is responsible for sidewalk maintenance.

Michael.  I've seen the same thing here.  The county/city comes along, advises the home owners that sidewalk replacement/repairs will be forthcoming and they simply send each owner a bill for their footage of repairs.

Randy.  This is a topic of which few home buyers would be aware and same for many agents with little experience.  Stick around in the real estate sales business and you'll see everything.

September 10, 2012 09:36 AM
Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

I was glad that no sidewalks were put in by my builder when we built the house.  Nothing to worry about cleaning the snow off of!

September 10, 2012 03:21 PM
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Lenn Harley
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Jay.  I agree.  I know many communities with no sidewalks.  Then again, some buyers will request a home with them.

September 10, 2012 03:42 PM
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George Souto
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George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages Connecticut

Lenn I am going to have to check it out, but I am almost certain that here in Connecticut the homeowner is not only responsible for the sidewalk maintenance, but is also liable if someone is hurt on the sidewalk in front of their house.

September 10, 2012 04:22 PM
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Lenn Harley
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George.  Depending on the area, municipalities may differ, but I suspect that you'll find most homeowners are and don't even realize the risk they are in with hazardous conditions.  I've known of isolated communities in my area where that is the case for many years.  Of course, with HOAs things may change, but a homeowner needs to know.

 

September 11, 2012 03:17 AM
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Lenn Harley

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