Snow & ice removal - What is the duty of a home owner?

Winter doesn't just bring cold temperatures, it also brings lots of snow, slush and ice. As a homeowner, it's up to you to shovel your driveway, walkways and the sidewalks in front of and beside your home.

It's vital to remove snow and ice from your property as soon as possible. According to the Occupiers' Liability Act in Ontario, if you are a homeowner, you have a duty to remove ice and snow on your property so that people who enter on your property are reasonably safe while they are there. Even if you are not expecting company, it's important to clear the snow and ice, as unexpected visitors can pop up at any time. This includes newspaper delivery people, couriers, etc.

If someone slips and falls and injures themselves on your property because the snow and/or ice has not been cleared, you may be liable for that.

If you are a homeowner with property insurance, your insurance company will be responsible for defending and paying these claims. This can cause your premiums to rise significantly or for your insurance company to cancel your policy altogether.

To avoid a lawsuit, be sure to clear your driveway, walkways and sidewalks as soon as possible after a snowfall or after ice forms. If you work long hours or are going to be away, consider hiring someone, such as a neighbour or landscape company to take care of it for you.

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