In winter, the owners are responsible

Lots of snow has fallen in southern Germany. That always leads to the same tiresome questions: Who has to evacuate and who has to pay for it?

Manual work: residents have to shovel snow themselves if there is a walkway or bike path

EIn storm lows in the north, in the south continuous snowfall – these days, winter has Germany firmly in its grip. But who has to use the snow shovel and the road salt? And who pays for the costs or even the compensation if someone falls on uncleared sidewalks? In principle, owners and landlords have to take care of it, they are responsible for the safety obligation. This can also apply to the public sidewalks in front of the house, namely when, as in many cities, the municipality has transferred the obligation to clear and litter to the residents of the street by statute. Numerous judgments have already been made on disputes relating to the obligation to litter and falls.

Municipality, owner or tenant – whoever is responsible for winter maintenance has to fulfill his duty or has to pay for the possible damage. Because the landlord can also use his tenants for clearing and spreading. However, the obligation must be mentioned in the rental agreement. According to the courts, a mere reference to the winter service in the house rules posted in the hallway should not be enough. For the transfer to be effective, the house rules and rental agreement must be handed over together.

Often the winter service is taken over by a caretaker or the property management. The landlord can pass on the resulting costs to his tenants via the utility bill. They can be apportioned as operating costs, after all, the resident benefits from the safety of the cleared sidewalks. Nevertheless, consumer advocates advise to take a closer look at the position in the utility bill. If the winter service is a typical activity of the caretaker, which does not incur any additional costs, the position must not be assigned to the tenant twice.

Both owner-occupiers and tenants should be interested in the fact that the costs for winter service as household-related services can be deducted from the tax return on a pro rata basis. You can deduct the expenses for labor and travel costs in the amount of 20 percent (maximum 4,000 or 1,200 euros) as a tax deduction. The preferential treatment does not stop at the property line. According to the rulings of the Federal Fiscal Court, the tax authorities also recognize this for winter services on the adjacent public sidewalks.