Who Owns The Sidewalk In NYC?

Sidewalks of thousands of miles are found all over the world on which millions of people walk every day. Sidewalks in New York City are considered as the best public places as people more than the number of cars on road and people visiting city parks walk on them. But the responsibility of maintaining sidewalks is not owned by the city even if they are the part of its development and good source of its revenue. Most of the efforts made by the city authorities are for punishing people using them instead of taking care of them.

Recent Legislation

Recently City Council has authorized the city to control newspaper boxes and newsstands and other such things that can cause obstruction on the sidewalks. This authority has empowered the city to control everything that people do on or goes o the sidewalks. It can distribute franchise for information kiosks, bus shelters, advertisements and public toilets along with pasting ads on garbage bins. But city does not take responsibility of repairing or making sidewalks.

There are many government agencies in New York City like Police Department, Department of Transportation, Department of sanitation, Parks Department, Department of Consumer Affairs and City Planning and Buildings Departments that are authorized to control what is happening on the sidewalks but none of them is responsible about the design and usage of sidewalks. They can only regulate the building and maintenance of sidewalks and slap fines on the law violators. They have nothing to do with how the sidewalks are made attractive places for the public as well as neighborhood.

For this reason the Administrative Code of the city was revised in September which made the owner of the property responsible for concrete repairing, shoveling snow and sweeping and clearing trash from the sidewalks adjoining their property. According to this amendment the owners of the property are required to repair and maintain the sidewalks and to have liability insurance coverage for any mishap occurring on the sidewalks, except in the areas with 1-3 family homes. Business Improvement Districts can maintain sidewalks in designated areas but to the extent that they can serve the merchants without any importance to passersby and shoppers. In this way the owner of the property is made responsible not only to look after his/her land and building but also to take care of the sidewalks in front of his/her property.

Liability Law

Under the body of premises liability law, the property owner who does not repair the sidewalks in front of his property even after knowing its dangerous condition can be responsible for the injuries and deaths caused by the accidents on that sidewalk. The victim will not be liable for the medical treatment for the serious injuries caused due to the negligence of someone else. The owner of the adjoining property will be responsible at first place for the injuries caused by the dangerous condition of the sidewalk.

Though, in some cases the owner of the property can claim compensation under property owner’s insurance but initially he has to bear all the costs as he owns the responsibility for the repair and maintenance of the sidewalks in front of his/her property in New York City.

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