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Do renters need to shovel snow in New Hampshire?

If you slip and fall due to snow that someone failed to clear after a reasonable time from their steps, you may want to start a premises liability lawsuit for the damages. In many cases, you do have a right to do this, as homeowners are obligated to make the property safe so that it is not a hazard. However, what do you do if the person living there is a tenant? Are they supposed to clear away the snow, or is the actual homeowner -- the landlord -- supposed to do it in New Hampshire?

The short answer is that it is not always clear, and a lot of it depends on the lease. For example, in most apartment buildings -- such as a renovated hotel with dozens of apartments -- the landlord usually takes it upon himself or herself to clear the snow, or the landlord may hire someone to do it. It would not be fair to put that responsibility on all of the tenants, as the snow is in shared areas.

However, some landlords may include in the lease that the tenant agrees to take on these responsibilities. When the tenant signs on the dotted line, the landlord is no longer legally responsible. This is sometimes done if the property being rented is a single family home. Since only one family is living there, the landlord may get them to agree to do the work, as a family who owned a home would do.

If you are thinking of starting a lawsuit, make sure that you look at a copy of the lease to see who should be the target of that suit.

Source: Allstate, "Shoveling Snow: Who’s Responsible, the Renter or the Landlord?" Sarah Katz, Apartments.com, accessed Mar. 10, 2015

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