An interesting article by Michael Jacobs this morning got my attention.
However, it leads to the question, if owners are responsible for sidewalk maintenance, doesn't it follow that, if a sidewalk is in disrepair and poses a danger to passers-by, aren't those same home owners at risk for damages and payment for injuries suffered by folks walking, riding a bike, etc. on that sidewalk??
How many home buyers understand that they will be responsible for maintenance of that walk-way in front of their home?
While the article posted by Michael Jacobs applies only to a city in California, home owners across the country are at risk of liability for injuries suffered by individuals on sidewalks in disrepair.
Installation of sidewalks is often done by the municipality and paid for by the owner through a front foot benefit charge in their annual real estate tax bill. The installation of the sidewalks, water, sewer, etc. installation can often be financed over decades, 20 plus years. However, when repairs are needed to sidewalks, water/sewer components on the owner's property, the owner is faced with out of pocket charges that are not small amounts of money.
In communities with Homeowners' Associations or Condominium ownership, the association will maintain the "common elements" such as sidewalks, etc.
Just another responsibility of home ownership of which many prospective home buyers are not aware. Few cities will follow the Pasadena, CA example and have a municipal housing inspection prior to a sale of a property, however, home owners need to be aware of the risks of poor maintenance of these features that they may have taken for granted.
The time to determine responsibility for sidewalks, etc., is BEFORE buying, not after.
Courtesy, Lenn Harley, Broker/Owner, Homefinders.com, 800-711-7988, serving home buyers in Maryland and Norther Virginia.