Here are NYC's snow removal rules if real winter ever returns

  • Residential owners are responsible for clearing ice or snow from sidewalks
  • You are required to create a path along your sidewalk at least four feet wide
  • If snow stops from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., you must clear the sidewalk in four hours
By Jennifer White Karp  |
January 4, 2024 - 4:30PM
Brooklyn brownstone resident clears snow off sidewalk in winter

NYC likely won't see this much snow this weekend, but it doesn't take a lot of snow or ice to make sidewalks here hazardous.


New York City could finally see a bit of snow after nearly two years without any significant snowfall, thanks to a storm hitting Saturday night.

In recent days, meteorologists have lowered their forecasts to just a few inches—or even less. Still, it doesn’t take a lot of snow or ice to make NYC streets messy.

If it’s been too long since the last snowstorm to remember the rules about snow removal, here’s what you need to know before the first flakes fall.

Who’s responsible for shoveling snow in NYC?

Residential owners are responsible for clearing ice or snow from sidewalks—the city doesn’t do it for you, and the rules are pretty specific.

If you are an owner, you are required to create a path along your sidewalk at least four feet wide and to clear a path to the crosswalk if you own a corner property.

The city also says you need to shovel bus stops and create access to fire hydrants—that should be a no brainer.

How long do you have to clear snow?

When the snow stops falling between:

  • 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., you must clear the sidewalk within four hours
  • 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., you must clear the sidewalk within 14 hours
  • 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., you must clear the sidewalk by 11 a.m.

Shovel like a pro

Be smart about shoveling snow—it can be hard work when snow is wet and heavy, so be careful not to overdo it. Pushing the snow with your shovel instead of lifting requires less exertion.

And don’t be the jerk who shovels snow into the street. It will have to be removed, and likely pushed back where you don’t want it (against your car or someone else’s).

How to find someone to shovel for you

If you want to find someone to clear snow in front of your building, consider putting social media to work for you. Try posting on NextDoor (or searching on the site for someone who is offering to remove snow). Another option is to hire someone on TaskRabbit.

Of course, there’s also an app for snow shoveling, shovler. Think of it like Uber but for snow removal. You can request a shoveler or sign up to become a shoveler.

If you know a teen, ask if they want the job. Many New Yorkers offer $20-$35—even if it is a small area.

Another solution if you live near a building that has staff is to see if they are willing to do your place as well, for a fee.

What happens if I don’t clear the snow or ice?

You may be thinking the snow or ice is just going to melt, so why not wait it out? But that’s a dangerous game. If someone slips and falls—you risk a lawsuit.

You can also be fined. The fines are $100 for a first offense, $150 for a second offense, and $250 for a third and subsequent offenses.

Use ice melt sparingly

Scattering snow and ice melt over your sidewalk before a storm will certainly make your life easier later, but keep in mind these products can be hazardous to pets if ingested and can burn their feet.

The general consensus is that there is no ice melt that is 100 percent pet safe, but some are less harmful than others. This review prefers SafePaw Ice Melt. Three other pet-friendly products mentioned are Safe Step Sure Paws, Splash Pet Safe Ice Melt, and Road Runner Pet Friendly Ice Melt.



Jennifer White Karp

Managing Editor

Jennifer steers Brick Underground’s editorial coverage of New York City residential real estate and writes articles on market trends and strategies for buyers, sellers, and renters. Jennifer’s 15-year career in New York City real estate journalism includes stints as a writer and editor at The Real Deal and its spinoff publication, Luxury Listings NYC.

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.