In 2016 a Chicago resident slipped on the public sidewalk of a condominium building. It hadn’t snowed in 11 days and the property manager was diligent to clear all the snow promptly. The slip happened due to the property’s downspouts enabling drainage that led to ice buildup on the sidewalk.
The Chicago resident argued that the property manager had been negligent. The property management company believed they were excused from liability due to the broad immunity offered by the Illinois Snow & Removal Act. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Chicago resident, stating that there’s no protection from liability when a property manager has failed to address hazardous conditions that might result in ice buildup on the sidewalk.
Long story short, it’s important for property managers and landlords to know exactly what Chicago law requires for snow and ice removal.
Clearing Snow and Ice
According to Chicago Municipal Code 10-8-180, those responsible for buildings or lots adjacent to public areas must adhere to the following guidelines:
- Timely Removal: Snow and ice that accumulates between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. should be cleared by 10 p.m. on the same day. Overnight accumulation from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. must be cleared by 10 a.m. the following day.
- Path Clearance: A clear path of at least 5 feet in width should be created on the sidewalk, including any intersecting ramps.
- Preventing Hazards: In cases where snow is too hardened to remove without damaging the pavement, sand, abrasive material, or specialized products designed to reduce slipping hazards should be used. Subsequently, the sidewalk must be thoroughly cleaned at the earliest weather-permitting opportunity.
- Snow Disposal: It’s prohibited to deposit snow or ice removed from surface parking lots of multiple dwelling unit buildings or townhouse developments onto public ways. Proper storage that doesn’t obstruct public access is mandatory. If storage isn’t feasible, private snow and ice removal services must be contracted. Do not push snow onto the street, paths, crosswalks, bus stops, alleys, and be sure to avoid burying a fire hydrant.
Consequences of Non-compliance
Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines ranging from $50 to $500 for each offense. Each day of non-compliance constitutes a separate offense, potentially escalating the penalties.
It is also important to note that from December 1st through April 1st, parking is banned from 3 AM to 7 AM on 107 miles of “vital arterial streets.” Signage is permanently posted on affected streets and violators will be towed and face a minimum of a $150 towing fee, a $60 ticket, and a storage fee of $25 per day.
In addition to this there is a separate snow-related parking ban for another 500 miles of main streets when there is at least two inches of snow on the street. Regardless of the time of day or calendar date, cars parked may receive a ticket or be towed to facilitate snow clearing operations.
Liability for Civil Damages
The law also includes provisions to protect individuals involved in snow removal from civil damages arising due to their acts or omissions during removal. However, this protection does not extend to willful misconduct or violations of other relevant municipal codes.
- Timely Snow Removal: Adhere to the specified timeframes for snow and ice clearance.
- Path Safety: Ensure a clear path at least 5 feet wide on sidewalks.
- Proper Disposal: Avoid depositing removed snow onto public ways.
- Avoid Penalties: Failure to comply can result in significant fines.
As responsible stakeholders, landlords and property managers should familiarize themselves with these regulations to uphold safety standards and avoid legal consequences. Meticulous care should be taken, even to the extent of inspecting the drainage.
If snow & ice removal is performed by a third party, make sure they are reputable and trustworthy. By fulfilling their obligations promptly and responsibly, they contribute to creating safer environments for all residents and pedestrians during winter in Chicago.