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  1. #1

    Default Missed Work Due to Landlord Not Removing Snow

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: Michigan.

    I live on a private drive that isn't plowed by the city. My lease states that it is the landlord's responsibility to remove snow from the driveways, and from the private road (which is about 200 yds to the main road.) When I attempted to leave for work this morning, I could not get out. I shoveled my driveway (which is not my responsibility) but it was pointless because the road was not plowed anyway. This means I could not get to work, meaning I am losing a day of pay, in addition to the disciplinary measures taken by my employer for calling in. I believe the law says something like about "snow of a sufficient quantity to be plowed within a reasonable time." But isn't the fact that the road is impassable proof that the plowing is unreasonable? Do I have any legal options here?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Missed Work Due to Landlord Not Removing Snow

    Probably not. The landlord can argue about what is the reasonable time frame of snow removal and it will differ from yours. If you try to seek legal help on this matter, someone along the line will ask you, "Why didn't you walk to a bus stop?" It'll be turned back on you so communicate with your employer what the situation is and say you're going to talk to your landlord and work something out so you won't miss work. Try to be firm AND kind when you talk to your landlord, you don't want on their bad side, even if you are in the right, because why take the risk of pissing him off when he controls where you hang your hat. Catch my drift? Let them know that this issue must stop and come to an agreement that works best for you both, no need for it to get ugly. Catch flies w/ sugar, it's better than vinegar. Good luck, dear.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Missed Work Due to Landlord Not Removing Snow

    You're talking about not having the snow plowed by, say, 8 AM on the morning after a massive snowstorm? Sorry, but what's "reasonable" for a typical snowfall isn't necessarily what's "reasonable" after an epic storm drops a foot or more of snow. Also, I have never heard of a lost wage claim succeeding on such a basis. Maybe if you had hired a snow company to remove the snow, and tried to claim reimbursement... but even then it's questionable. It may not have even been possible for your landlord (or his service) to get to the road and your driveway.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Missed Work Due to Landlord Not Removing Snow

    Oh, of course. It's my fault for not taking a bus when there are no buses running. I've never lived anywhere where snow was not removed in the morning. He has a truck with a plow sitting in his driveway all night, knowing that 16 inches of snow were predicted. 20 tenants were stuck until 4pm. Nobody went to work while he sat in his house all day. This is not the first time he's taken all day to remove snow. I guess I just have to accept the fact that every time it snows, I have to call in to work. So even if the lease says he just remove snow, it is up to him to decide what is a reasonable amount of time. This all makes total sense. Can I also just decide when to pay rent?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Missed Work Due to Landlord Not Removing Snow

    A friend of mine, (also in Michigan) plows snow as income during the winter. He starts closest to his house and moves outward. Like the storm we got on Feb. 2, he was out by 3 am BEGINNING the cleanup process. His major plow is a huge church and school. Plow it, go do neighboring friends, family and return to big job by the time the storm winds down (noon in our case).
    In my none educated opinion, if your landlord has his own plow truck, his tenants should have been his FIRST priority. No excuses there. But again, imo.

    I worked for an employer that gave out so many "inclement" paid days. Back around 2000 or so, we got a huge blizzard. State of Emergency, no one could go ANYWHERE. We were already over our paid days. We never got paid for those days when it was a state of emergency. Union fought but it never happened.

    One more note. Michigan is mostly rural. Unless you live in Detroit or Flint or the like.......we don't have access to buses. Smaller transportation vans, (if your lucky to have that availability) etc. have to be set up ahead of time and STILL it isn't a guarantee.

    My Aunt works at a hospital, the hospital volunteered to come get the nurses to bring them to work.

    Michigan is an at will state unless you have a contract. In a perfect world, at will employers would give rural, stuck in the snow, can't get a plow down the back roads employees a break. Have employees close to the "job" come in.

    Hope it can work out for you.

    Quote Quoting intolerantpolitician
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    Probably not. The landlord can argue about what is the reasonable time frame of snow removal and it will differ from yours. If you try to seek legal help on this matter, someone along the line will ask you, "Why didn't you walk to a bus stop?" It'll be turned back on you so communicate with your employer what the situation is and say you're going to talk to your landlord and work something out so you won't miss work. Try to be firm AND kind when you talk to your landlord, you don't want on their bad side, even if you are in the right, because why take the risk of pissing him off when he controls where you hang your hat. Catch my drift? Let them know that this issue must stop and come to an agreement that works best for you both, no need for it to get ugly. Catch flies w/ sugar, it's better than vinegar. Good luck, dear.
    Is there a definition of reasonable time? 2 days after a huge storm, 3? In the Michigan case, the kids were off school for 2 days so it seems reasonable to me, if the county were able to remedy not only the main roads but also the horrid back roads for a SCHOOL BUS, the LL should (in this case with a plow truck) be able to help within hours. Also, in my experience with residential plowers.......if you are a smart one, you start clearing when there's 3- 4-5 inches, to make it easier to plow out and it may have made a difference with this poster getting out to work earlier. Although treacherous, leaving an hour early would have made it easier. I had to drive in storms to make a 7 mile trek and left an hour early.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Missed Work Due to Landlord Not Removing Snow

    The thing is, courts follow statute and precedent. Can you provide authority from any U.S. jurisdiction that supports your position that overnight snowfall of any amount must be cleared by the landlord during early morning hours? Authority from any U.S. jurisdiction in which a landlord, slow to remove snow, was held liable for a tenant's claim of lost wages? Every case I've seen indicates that landlords ordinarily have no duty to repeatedly clear snow over the course of a snowstorm - what authority are you looking at that compels a landlord to stay up all night long, plowing a parking lot each time a few inches of snow accumulates?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Missed Work Due to Landlord Not Removing Snow

    Here's my take on it, from the employers and landlord standpoint.

    Some years ago, I was a department manager for a company in central NJ, which at the time was comparatively rural. Folks we hire live 30 to 40 minutes away.

    Then I-78 opened, and we start interviewing people living in PA, over 1:15 away. People tell me it's only 30 minutes more, but houses cost half as much, real estate taxes are half as much, and all the fresh air. So I tell these people, that's all well and good, but if there are snow storms, and local roads get treacherous up in the mountains, I don't want to hear anything about problems getting to work, snow not being cleared etc.

    It's all well and good that they make the choices to live where they want to live, enjoy the cost of living advantages, but just don't expect everyone to carry you on the downside, because, YES, you'll have to use up some personal days in bad winters when people who live closer, pay more rent and taxes can come in.

    Where I am now, I do the payroll and maintain the attendance records. I just had a disagreement with the agency Director marking down a vacation day for an excellent employee, who rarely misses a day. She live rather far away, we were closed for one snow day, but the following day, streets in her area was not cleaned, so she cannot come in while others were able to come in.

    My Directors point is people make choices as to where they live, and she cannot give this employee a pass, and expect others to show up. Point well taken. I recall making the same speech to people who chose to live in the next state driving through the mountains to come to work.

    I'm also a landlord, at one time, I had to hire contractors to clear snow for a property on the other side of the county from me. They do not come every few hours, and because once, they were caught in the middle of a storm in the middle of unplowed streets, afterwards, they only come after the cessation of a storm. The municpal authorities give owners so much time after the cessation of storms to clear the snow, so I no longer demand contractors to come by that early, and get stuck.

    In fact, I shifted to hiring tenants to clean the snow, giving them a break on the rent, and they are way ahead on good weather years. So far, I haven't had major insurance issues doing it this way. I had found this to be the best way as often, tenants get stir crazy snowbound, and this gives them an opportunity to work off their energy, with the advantage that if the snow is not cleaned fast enough, the culprit lives right down the hall.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Missed Work Due to Landlord Not Removing Snow

    So even if the lease says he just remove snow, it is up to him to decide what is a reasonable amount of time.
    On private property? Sure is up to the owner, yup.

    Even on public property (sidewalks), "reasonable time" does not mean "before people have to go to work". Rather, municipalities set the deadline for anywhere from 24 to 48 hours AFTER the snow stops falling.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Missed Work Due to Landlord Not Removing Snow

    I believe the law says something like about "snow of a sufficient quantity to be plowed within a reasonable time.
    please cite that law. I am not familiar with it and would love to become more informed. If you can find a law that states that, then there will be some action available to you. Of course, you still have to define "of sufficient quantity" and "reasonable time".

  10. #10

    Default Re: Missed Work Due to Landlord Not Removing Snow

    Again, what IS the definition of reasonable time for a landlord to clear snow?

    Also, not yet addressed, if parking lot during melt/ thaw becomes a sheet of ice and there is a slip and fall is that the responsibility of the landlord if it is in the lease they are to maintain walkways and parking areas?

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