Sidewalk Liability Now Falls to Property Owners

Property owners will now be responsible for the maintenance and repair of public sidewalks in front of their buildings following passage of legislation that transfers liability from the city to the owners of multi-family dwellings.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg recently signed a pair of bills that were part of a tort reform package aimed at reducing the city's liability to pay for accident claims resulting from defective or improperly maintained sidewalks.

Intro 193, also called the Adjoining Landowner Liability Bill, will hold building owners liable if they fail to comply with their existing duty to repair and maintain the sidewalks in front of their buildings, and also to shovel snow and remove it from the premises in winter. One-, two- and three family dwellings are exempt.

"New York City has 12,750 miles of sidewalks. Laid end-to-end they would stretch halfway around the world. It would cost the city billions of dollars to hire sidewalk repair crews to repair all sidewalk defects and keep the sidewalks perfectly free of defects," says Mayor Bloomberg.

Under current law, says Mayor Bloomberg, property owners had been required to keep sidewalks in good repair and free of snow or ice. However, if they failed to comply with this statutory duty and someone was injured, oftentimes only the city would get sued, he says.

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5 Comments

  • This article of the homeowner having full liability for public city owned sidewalks is not accurate. It did not mention the federal laws of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires for all cities and towns to maintain their sidewalks free of obstructions. So even if they have an ordinance, it does not trump their responsibility if they are not maintaining their sidewalks. The specific applicable laws are ADA Title II section 35.133 and the 504 Rehabilitation Act requiring for full inclusion in all public programs. Sidewalks are considered a public program. The Barden vs Sacramento lawsuit set a national precedent to show the city has responsibility for paying for the upkeep and maintenance of all public sidewalks.
  • NYC is replacing entire business front sidewalks.in Qeens.NYC paying ? No obfuscation please.
  • NYC Inspectors patrolled our block on both sides throughout Brooklyn and handed out summonses to many of the homeowners stating that they needed to repair the sidewalks located in front of their property by a certain time or face a fine (most of the damage was caused by the trees that the city planted). This was very expensive for some homeowners. Can the homeowners deduct that from their taxes?
  • ve in Sarasota where several years ago the FDOT placed about 75 street lamp posts near the middle of the sidewalk. This is on Bee Ridge Road a busy four lane street with no bicycle lane. Cyclists must navigate around the posts close to the busy road. Many have been injured. The Governments position is that the posts will not be relocated to the edge of the sidewalk or off the sidewalk because they are further than 36 inches from the curb and are thus ADA Compliant because a standard wheelchair can pass by the post. However, I believe they are misrepresenting ADA Law. Minimum Wheelchair Pass By Standards are meant to allow wheelchair users access to narrow sidewalks. The FDOT should not use this standard as justification in obstructing the center of a normal width sidewalk. Wheelchair users are not the Lowest Common Denominator of access. They are actually using the ADA to justify obstructing all Pedestrians Right of Way. Why, just so they can save some money on cement and a little wiring? I think this is very unethical, immoral, and an insult to my service to our Country. Before the ADA was Law street lamp posts were not allowed in the middle of a sidewalk because of Above Ground Utility Placement Structure Standards and Sidewalk Width Standards. Now the Government is basically saying it is the ADA which gives them the right to obstruct a sidewalk as long as a wheelchair user can pass by. This is so wrong!
  • Our home is on a quiet street in Raritan NJ. We were never informed of town building sidewalks in front of our home. t They started yesterday. Again, no notice, no letter. How do we fight this?