Chicago Title seminar on landlord ice and snow liability

landlord snowResidential landlords and snow!

Yesterday, I attended a great seminar put on by Chicago Title in Gurnee about fire and snow issues and landlords.  In the past, I have blogged a bit here and here about landlord obligations related to snow and snow removal and readers might want to review that information.  In general, Illinois land owners have no duty to remove what are referred to as “natural accumulations” of snow, ice, and melting water.  Things get generally more complex once the owner moves snow around and creates an “unnatural accumulation” of ice, snow, or melting water or if the landlord has a contractual obligation to remove snow, ice, or melting water and did not do so correctly.  The State of Illinois provides a bit of relief to people who shovel at residential residential property in the form of the Snow and Ice Removal Act which provides at 745 ILCS 75/2:

Sec. 2. Any owner, lessor, occupant or other person in charge of any residential property, or any agent of or other person engaged by any such party, who removes or attempts to remove snow or ice from sidewalks abutting the property shall not be liable for any personal injuries allegedly caused by the snowy or icy condition of the sidewalk resulting from his or her acts or omissions unless the alleged misconduct was willful or wanton.

Interestingly, the statute only mentions sidewalks, but some caselaw indicates that stoops and the area between a house and the sidewalk is also covered.

Of course, Chicago gets a say in this game as well.  The City requires sidewalks to be shoveled in front of both residential and commercial properties.  As for other potential liability, some tenant’s rights advocates argue that the landlord’s obligations to keep the building up to code or to meet the requirements of 5-12-110 of the CRLTO might impose additional obligations on landlords.  For now, we have no case guidance on those issues.

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