Step on a crack; break your mother’s back – where did that even come from? Is it from the poorly maintained, uneven sidewalks we have all experienced at some point or another?
Sidewalks go through wear and tear every day, whether it’s from weather damage to damage from people walking, kids playing, and overall passage of time. So it’s perfectly natural for sidewalks to have cracks, stains, bumps, etc., and a damaged sidewalk is fixable… But who’s in charge of fixing it?
The answer is a little nuanced. Sidewalk maintenance responsibilities for your HOA vary by locality, time of purchase, and they could even be shared responsibilities!
In this article, we’ll discuss sidewalk maintenance, what it is, what it includes, who’s responsible (the builder, homeowner, HOA, city, etc.), and what an HOA should do if responsible.
Sidewalk Maintenance for Your HOA & What's Included
Sidewalk maintenance ensures that your community’s walkways are clean and in good condition. There are several benefits to sidewalk maintenance for HOA, and one of the main ones is curb appeal. Sidewalk maintenance ensures that each home has curb appeal for potential buyers and the community overall.
Several things fall under the sidewalk maintenance umbrella, and while professionals help with the maintenance of HOAs, it’s beneficial to understand the types of care needed.
Just like driveways, you have to reseal sidewalks every few years. Resealing sidewalks keeps your sidewalks looking fresh, extends their lifespan, and protects them from outside elements.
Next, you’ll have to repair cracks. We recommend being proactive and fixing small cracks before they turn into larger cracks and become more costly.
Small cracks will appear over time and are easily fixed with concrete caulking.
Speaking of proactive, there are a few ways to stay proactive and keep your sidewalk well-maintained without investing a lot of money. It all boils down to keeping your sidewalk clean.
To improve the lifespan of your sidewalk, you need to clear away debris like leaves, dirt, and, depending on your environment, any snow and ice.
Additionally, it is best practice to immediately remove stains if your sidewalk gets dirty and stained. By removing stains immediately, you can keep the concrete clear and can avoid having it professionally stained in the future.
We also recommend pressure washing sidewalks yearly. This helps clean out the dirt that gets into the small cracks and prevents them from becoming bigger.
Cleaning your sidewalks helps maintain the integrity of the concrete and improves your community’s curb appeal. Being proactive with your sidewalk cleaning helps a community or individual avoid costly repairs in the future.
Reach Out to Professionals
Lastly, you may have to reach out to professionals and have sidewalks prefixed by individuals who are educated in concrete repair.
Sidewalk maintenance is essential in keeping a community aesthetic, but it’s more than that, sidewalks are how people move through the neighborhood, and it needs to be in optimal condition for the people in the community.
And the Responsibility Goes to…
As mentioned earlier, sidewalk maintenance is a nuanced responsibility because laws vary. Although they vary, it’s typical for larger cities to pay for upkeep. However, with suburbs, small towns, and areas considered private property, it ends up being the responsibility of the homeowner, the homeowners association, or even both.
So, if you’re a homeowner with a sidewalk in front of your home, it’s in your best interest to know whether the sidewalk is your responsibility or not. If it is, you’re assuming a level of liability for that piece of property.
For example, if you live in an area with snow – should you shovel the sidewalk in front of your home, or does the HOA? And if you don’t shovel, and someone falls – can you get sued?
It’s OK if you don’t know, but we encourage you to find out before any problems arise (like someone slipping on that snow!). To find out, you could reach out to your local municipal office, Google your state laws, or you can reach out to your HOA or find it on your community website.
Homeowners Associates & Sidewalk Maintenance
Say the homeowners association is responsible for sidewalk maintenance – what now? Once you know whether or not the HOA is responsible, the HOA will need to be in charge of scheduling regular inspections and maintenance control.
Homeowners Associations will need to:
- Manage and fix any landscaping issues
- Be proactive and avoid unnecessary damages
- Schedule maintenance and communicate those schedules with your community
If an HOA is responsible for their community’s sidewalk maintenance, they can be held liable. Some associations have been sued for not properly maintaining sidewalks in the neighborhood and common areas. Remember, sidewalks are access points to help people safely move through your neighborhood. Sidewalks need to be clean, smooth, and include ramps and curbs.
If this is a shared responsibility between you and the homeowners, ensure that you clearly communicate that with the community. Send reminders and work with them to create an aesthetic and accessible neighborhood.
As the HOA, we recommend you set aside an operating budget and reserve a portion of your funds for sidewalk maintenance and improvements.
Sidewalks are constantly under wear and tear. Staying proactive and keeping your sidewalks clean is a good first step, but it’s not the only step.
- Putting aside money
- Paying attention to your community
- Communicating any board actions, policies, or plans to homeowners through newsletters, emails, etc.
You’ll stay on top of your community’s well-being and keep your community prospering.
Get in Touch - We're Here to Help!
Sidewalk maintenance is nuanced, and there are so many different moving pieces and laws to consider.
If you’re a new Homeowners Association and you are unsure of your responsibilities in regards to sidewalk maintenance. In that case, we first encourage you to review your state’s laws and governing documents to determine the HOAs and homeowners’ responsibilities. It’s important to understand who manages and maintains the community because of the assumed liability level.
Sidewalk maintenance is one part of a successful HOA. If you’re ready to elevate your HOA or you’re setting up an HOA neighborhood and want to ensure that you’re managing it efficiently and effectively. Now is the best time to consider working with a professional HOA management company like AMC Inc. (Association Management Concepts). We’re here to help keep your HOA and neighborhood on track for success by providing full-service training for your board and breaking down the responsibilities of a board. Contact us at 916-565-8080, ext. 321.