Winter is upon us, which implies snow, and snow removal …

Article locked Published on by Me Annie Lapointe

Topic(s): Legal

Sometimes it is necessary to verify the lease in order to remember what the obligations are of each and everyone in this regard. Indeed, section E – “Services and Conditions” specifically determines who is responsible for snow removal and de-icing. Just mark the appropriate box for parking, balcony, entrance, sidewalk, driveway, and stairs. If you want the tenant to be responsible for all of this, it is very important to mark it for him.

This particular obligation can be a source of trouble, since not everyone does have the same schedule and, above all, not everyone adapts in the same way to the cold season.

A recent decision by the Régie du logement (1) has come to determine the extent of the obligation to clear snow and de-ice the common portions in wintertime, when tenants were asking the Régie du logement for an order to have the landlord honour this obligation.

In the case submitted, the judgement rendered stipulates that it is the obligation of the landlord to proceed with the snow removal and de-icing of the entrance, sidewalk, driveway and stairways. The tenant complains that this obligation is not carried out adequately. Indeed, according to the judgement, the tenant is of the opinion that the new landlord-owner has not removed snow for about 2 years, at the first necessity, as the previous landlord-owner did. Since she has to leave around 7 a.m. in the morning, with young children, this is not done in a reasonable time according to her.

The judge then makes an analysis of the situation. He mentions that the landlord has the obligation to prevent the foreseeable damages by citing other judgements rendered in the past and of which we quote relevant extracts:

“The mere presence of snow and/or ice, however, is not sufficient to entail or infer the responsibility of the landlord-owner of the premises. He is not the insurer of the pedestrians. They must expect to encounter difficult conditions in Québec during the winter and guard themselves especially against changes in temperature, in particular ... The obligation of the owner to ensure snow removal and safety, in the event of a fall or injury, is an obligation of means and not of result.”

and:

“Anyone who complains of ice damage must prove that the landlord-owner of the ice surface has been negligent. The Courts evaluate this negligence taking into account the weather conditions, the visibility of the ice, the knowledge about it by the owner, the time elapsed between the knowledge of the danger and the damage, and the behaviour of the victim herself.”

The landlord must nevertheless take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the users, but it does not seem necessary for him to immediately remedy any presence of snow or ice. Users also have an obligation, after a storm, to be extra careful and prudent.

Because the judge decides that it concerns more - in the situation described - a disagreement on the methods of execution of the obligation of the landlord-owner, than a failure to fulfill his obligations of snow removal and de-icing, the ordinance is rejected.

(1) 2017 QCRDL 35310, 317817 31 20170131 G.

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