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Living in Switzerland: Are tenants or landlords responsible for removing snow?

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected] • 19 Jan, 2023 Updated Thu 19 Jan 2023 15:04 CEST
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It is up to your landlord to shovel snow. Photo: Pixabay

Snow is finally here, which means some of it might have accumulated in front of your Swiss residence, making access to and from the building tricky. You may be wondering who should be shovelling all that snow.

It is a common sight on a winter day to see people with shovels clearing the snow from the front of their houses. This is a thankless but necessary task not only because the Swiss like everything to be neat and tidy, but also, more importantly, to prevent slips and falls.

But who exactly is responsible for this job?

If you are a tenant, then ensuring safe access to the building is the responsibility of your landlord or someone he or she hires for this service.

They should not only clear the paths leading to and from the building, but also de-ice them, if such action is required.

The only exceptions to this rule, according to Homegate real estate portal, are areas that are not accessible from outside, such as your balcony.

You are also responsible for clearing your own parking space.

What happens if the landlord doesn’t remove the snow and you fall and hurt yourself?

If the landlord fails in their duty to provide safe access to and around the building, then he or she will be held liable for accidents occurring on their property due to their negligence.

While your accident insurance (which is obligatory in Switzerland, either through your employer or health policy) will cover the medical costs, the landlord’s liability insurance will pay for any auxiliary costs incurred by your injuries — for instance, if your break your glasses while falling and need replacement, or need a wheelchair to move around.

READ MORE: What is Swiss liability insurance and do you need it?

There are, however, exceptions to this rule.

If you don’t live in a multi-unit building but rent a single-family home, then you are in principle responsible for clearing the snow around the property.

This point will be included and defined in your lease contract.

What if you're a homeowner - not a tenant?

In this case, it is up to you to de-snow and de-ice your property to make it safe not only for yourself, but also for all those who come to your door — be it an invited guest, mail carrier, or Uber Eats delivery person.

The art of snow shovelling

It should not come as a surprise to anyone who has lived in Switzerland for a while that snow here can’t just be removed in a haphazard or random fashion.

It has to be done correctly, the Swiss way.

This means that snow should not just be flung onto other people’s properties, or onto public sidewalk. Instead, it should be placed in neat heaps on the the side of the street – but not in front of a hydrant or on a pedestrian crossing.

Also, snow removal can’t be done any time you feel like it, but only on weekdays from from 7 am to 9 am.

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Helena Bachmann in Geneva 2023/01/19 15:04

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