Winter duties...

Winterdienst or Räumungs – und Streupflicht....WHAT?

It is snowing, the streets are full of snow, as is the side walk.
Winter tires are compulsoryin Germany in winter, public transport might be delayed and the clearance of main roads is being taken care of by the city, but the side walk/pavement? Well very often this is your duty. IS IT?

 In Germany the removal of snow and ice from the paths and sidewalk adjoining your property is your personal responsibility. Should someone get injured by slipping/falling due to failed removal of snow or no grid on ice you will be personally liable and you could even receive a fine. (There are personal insurance policies, which cover you in those situations called “Haftpflichtversicherung” – living in Germany this is a very good insurance to have).

 Usually the duty of snow and ice removal concerns you, if you live in a detached house.

If you live in an apartment/flat you might have a “Winterdienst” (winter service) or a “Hausmeister” (caretaker) to take care of the snow and ice. You pay it with your „Nebenkosten“ (billed once a year, shared by all inhabitants).

What you have to expect should be clearly stated in your “Mietvertrag” (lease or rental contract) or in Stuttgart Area in your „Kehrwoche“. This a Swabian „thing“. It is a weekly cleaning roster, defining which flat in the building has to take care about which tasks during the week. In winter this very often includes snow/ice removal duty.

(To learn more about Kehrwoche, I can recommend our Module Household matters or all about Germany)

 If you are responsible:

  • you must clear the snow/ice from the sidewalk/pavement adjoining your property before 7 am on weekdays, before 8 am on Saturdays and before 9 am on Sundays and national holidays. Your duty ends at 9 p.m. in Stuttgart.
  • If there is snow during the day, you have to perform this more than once per day (depending on the amount – you can also ask a neighbor to help you out in case your are at work.)
  • To prevent people from slipping you have to spread ash, sand, gravel or grit but NEVER salt. This is now allowed in Stuttgart for environmental reasons! Only exception are very dangerous areas such as steps, steep inclines and alike.
  • Snow must not be shoveled onto the street, but in the garden, a green area or an assigned place in order not to disturb traffic on roads / sidewalks.
  • If you are not there yourself you can ask your neighbors for help or in case of vacations you can swap your week of duty or in general invest in a „Winterdienst“ (winter service) to be found in the Internet, if you are absolutely not keen on doing this.
  • In apartment buildings there is usually a snow shovel to share, grit/sand/gravel and a broom. If you live in a single detached house, make sure you have all of the above before the first snow. You can get all of it at your local DIY store like OBI, Bauhaus, Hornbach, Toom Baumarkt. Sometimes also bigger supermarkets like Real, Kaufland or bigger Edekas might carry all of the above.

And if you feel like it and want your garden / balcony a little more lively, why don't you invest in a little birdhouse and some seeds to feed your feathery friends. You can start already in November before it gets really cold for them to get to know where to find food in winter. All you need can be obtained at DIY stores and the food at your regular supermarket or drugstore,too.


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