French property: Who is responsible for clearing snow or ice?

Partner article:  Rules vary around the country but If it is your responsibility, you are also liable for any injury caused by someone slipping outside your house 

8 January 2022

The cleared area should be wide enough for two people to pass, and the snow should be piled in a neat line along the property side of the pavement Pic: Sussi Hj / Shutterstock

Reader question: After snow, must I clear the pavement in front of my house?

The local commune is responsible for keeping roads and pavements clear – but many passed local by-laws making householders responsible for the pavements, while the commune looks after the roads. 

Both Paris and Lyon have done so, as well as many smaller towns and villages. 

Check the rules in your own commune, as they vary. If it is your responsibility, you are also liable for any injury caused by someone slipping in snow or ice outside your house. 

Most household insurance policies include cover for cases like this, but you may have to pay the first €100 or so. 

Rules for clearing snow from a pavement are quite strict. 

A flat-bottomed shovel is recommended, and care must be taken to ensure no ruts are left. 

The cleared area should be wide enough for two people to pass, and the snow should be piled in a neat line along the property side of the pavement. 

If the pavement is icy, salt (never hot water) should be used. Most communes provide this, but if not, you have to buy your own. 

Eco alternatives such as grit or ashes can also be used, especially near plants. 

In flats, it is usually the caretaker who is responsible for clearing pavements, but responsibility sometimes falls on the syndic.

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Author: Sarah Bright-Thomas, Bright Avocats. Bright Avocats provides French legal advice

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