Every winter in Russia, the same thing happens: roads, sidewalks and courtyards are suddenly covered with snow and shackled with ice, and utilities are not ready for this. Snowdrifts can be removed for too long and reluctantly, but these obstacles interfere with both drivers and pedestrians. To combat this disgrace, you need to know who is responsible for cleaning, how often it should be done, and to whom, if necessary, you can complain. The Secret figured it all out.
Who to ask
First you need to understand who is responsible for removing snow and ice. There is no single service that would deal with this throughout the city (and even more so throughout Russia). So the spaces are divided among themselves by several organizations at once.
First of all, consider the situation with the territory that is adjacent to the building. Responsibility for its maintenance will be borne by the one who is responsible for the building itself. Usually its operation hangs on the owner. If the building or part of it is leased, then the responsibility will lie with the tenant, said Anton Palyulin, managing partner of the legal bureau Palyulin and Partners.
Important: the one who uses the lower floor is responsible for snow removal near the building, and the one who uses the upper or technical floor, attic or roof is responsible for cleaning icicles. Sometimes they are different people or organizations.
If this is an apartment building, then you need to ask the management company (UK) or homeowners associations (HOA).
Here is how the territory should be kept:
- take out garbage from tanks, bins and containers;
- sweep paths;
- clean and mow lawns;
- carry out seasonal work;
- clean off icicles, ice and snow.
According to the minimum list of works and services that public utilities have to perform, in winter they must clean snow and ice from manhole covers, wells and fire hydrants if the layer thickness on them exceeds 5 cm, and also remove snow and ice if the rut is also more than 5 cm Also, they must clear the porch and the area in front of the entrance to the entrance.
Any of the responsibilities can be delegated by concluding an agreement with third parties. In this case, the responsibility will still remain with the person or company that is responsible for the operation of the building. So, even if a hired team removes the snow, the management company will receive claims for its worthless work.
“The management company must remove and store snow, and is obliged to remove it only if there is an appropriate agreement with the residents,” said Sergey Gebel, general director of the law firm Gebel and Partners.
Local administrations are already responsible for the elimination of snow and ice on the municipal territory. They are responsible for cleaning:
- parking pockets;
- steps on underground and overground passages;
- public transport stops;
- places of rest;
- squares, boulevards and walking areas.
In each city, the issue of winter cleaning is solved in different ways, said Tatyana Zimina, a lawyer at the Yakovlev and Partners legal group. For example, in St. Petersburg, dozens of institutions are responsible for cleaning and removing snow. Cleaning of the streets is carried out by the committee for improvement, adjacent territories and roofs of houses – management companies, territories of non-residential buildings – organizations located in them, intra-quarter driveways, courtyards, playgrounds and other territories – municipalities and district administrations.
In Moscow, the process of winter cleaning is more centralized – it is handled by the housing and communal services department and management companies.
Information about who is responsible for specific areas in your city, locality can be found on the website of the city administration (in the section with official documents). If you need to find out which particular managing organization serves the adjoining territory of a particular apartment building, then this information can be found on the information portal [ГИС ЖКХ](https://dom.gosuslugi.ru/#!/main) in the “Register of housing stock” section.
There is also a third, state level of snow and ice removal. So, the maintenance of federal highways is carried out by the Federal Road Agency (Rosavtodor), said, in turn, the lawyer, head of Saunin Law Practice Andrey Saunin.
How are they supposed to work?
In the yards
Recommendations on the timing of snow and ice removal in the yards are indicated in a special document – the rules and norms for the technical operation of the housing stock, said Viktor Bezyazychny, head of the legal department of the Sova law firm. It describes in detail what work the public utilities should carry out and in what time frame.
Here are the rules you need to be aware of:
- Depending on the air temperature, snow during snowfall should be removed every 1-3 hours.
- Moreover, if the thickness of the snow cover is less than 2 cm, it is enough to sweep it.
- If there is no snowfall, then snow and ice should be removed once every 1-3 days (usually this happens in the morning before 07:00).
- Treat roads and sidewalks from ice with a mixture of sand and salt within three hours after the end of a snowfall or blizzard.
- In the cities of the northern climatic zone with heavy snowfalls, the cleaning time is reduced.
There are several other clarifications as well. In particular, when the snowfall ends, the snow will have to be removed from the sidewalks into shafts and heaps within 6 hours, and in other territories – within 12 hours.
Utilities at the same time observe the sequence of cleaning. First, footpaths, sidewalks, areas in front of entrances are cleared, then driveways, playgrounds and other objects. But lawns and flower beds are not cleaned at all in winter.
During heavy snowfall, utilities should:
- every 3 hours to clear the pedestrian zones, through which no more than 50 people pass every hour;
- clear sidewalks every two hours with a traffic of 50 to 100 people per hour;
- remove snow every hour where more than 100 people walk per hour.
At city sites
If we talk about roads and streets, the provisions of the national standard called GOST R 50597-2017 are already in force here. In it, as Sergei Gebel noted, it is written that:
- snow should be removed in 3-12 hours;
- to eliminate ice – in 4-12 hours;
- clean sidewalks – in 12-24 hours;
- loose snow over 8 cm thick must be removed within six days.
In the case of snowfalls, time is counted from the moment they end, and in the case of ice – from the moment they were noticed.
As Natalya Greshnova, a member of the Association of Lawyers of Russia, noted, the same GOST stipulates the permissible amount of snow on the roadway and sidewalk, as well as the conditions under which the snow will wait for removal and disposal. For example, until the cleaning is completed, there may be loose or melted snow on the streets no more than 5 cm thick.
Regions can adapt federal rules for themselves, introduce additional conditions and change the frequency in local winter cleaning regulations. So it is worth asking what kind of laws are in force in your subject. They are probably listed on the website of the local administration.
For example, in Norilsk (Krasnoyarsk Territory), where heavy snowfalls occur every year, snow must be removed within 48 hours. This is a rather short period of time, if compared, for example, with Moscow, where it takes from three days.
How the emergency changes everything
Public utilities have their own emergencies – this is precipitation that significantly exceeds the calculated norms. Russians face incredibly heavy snowfalls, freezing rains and other troubles at least a couple of times during the winter. Such situations can in no way be called normal working conditions for public utilities, namely, city resources were originally designed for them.
In such emergencies, special emergency regulations begin to operate in Russia. Each region of the country may have a separate set of rules for such a case. For example, in Moscow and many other subjects, snow and ice will be removed at city facilities in turn, depending on their importance (or category), Sergei Gebel noted.
Here is what will be removed first:
- objects of the first category: main streets and avenues with the maximum traffic flow;
- non-categorical objects, for example, squares in front of railway stations.
Public utilities will have two hours to clean non-category objects and objects of the first category from the moment the snowfall ends.
If we talk about buildings, then they will immediately clean up the places on which the health and safety of citizens depend, Sergei Gebel continued. These include health care facilities (hospitals and clinics), law enforcement agencies (police departments), utility buildings, kindergartens and schools. Often courts and detention centers are also brought here.
Territories of apartment buildings will be cleaned last. But sooner or later they will be cleared.
At the same time, the emergency situation will not affect the frequency of snow and ice removal. The legislation does not provide for any specific deadlines in case of snowfalls. But other conditions may change. For example, during an emergency in Moscow, mechanized cleaning is allowed at night, which in a normal situation is carried out only during the day.
To whom to complain
If you are triggered by snow removal with ice (or the lack of this very cleaning), you can file a complaint with the responsible person, that is:
- to the management company (through the control room), if violations occurred on the territory adjacent to the multi-apartment residential building;
- to the owner or tenant of the building, if there are problems with other adjacent territory;
- to the district utilities or directly to the district administration (government, prefecture, relevant department), if questions have arisen about urban infrastructure facilities.
Contact information for municipal services can be found on the City Administration website. There you can also specify who owns a particular site.
Another way to figure out the culprit is to order an extract from the USRN, Viktor Bezyazyachny emphasized.
In many subjects, applications or sites have been created and are operating, where you can leave a statement about poor-quality cleaning. So, in the Moscow region there is a site called Dobrodel, which helps to solve such problems.
If complaints don’t work
Often complaints do not work: either they are completely ignored, or in response – replies. Then file another complaint in response – already for inaction.
First, it must be sent to a higher authority, for example, to the administration of the subject or housing inspection. In Moscow, you can also complain about the management company to the Association of Administrative and Technical Inspections (OATI).
You can also file a complaint with the prosecutor’s office – it is she who monitors the implementation of laws. In your claim, emphasize that the responsible person is inactive and does not fulfill his own duties. The prosecutor’s office should check and make a decision. If everything goes well, the department will force the violator to remove the snow and ice. What if…