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Who is responsible for sidewalks?

Sidewalks are often a part of your real estate that you do not give much thought to until something goes wrong with them. At that point, you may wonder who is responsible for them? This really depends on the rules and regulations that the city of Seattle has put into place. There are many ways the rights and responsibilities of sidewalks are divided up between you and the city.

According to MRSC, the right to use the sidewalk is owned by the public. People can walk on the sidewalk and use it to travel as they please. When the sidewalk needs repair, it generally falls on the city to make those repairs, not you. The city holds the responsibility to keep them in good repair because they are a public walkway.

However, the city also retains the right to make you responsible for certain things concerning the sidewalk. For example, you probably have to maintain the landscaping around the sidewalk and keep it clean and safe for use. This means removing ice and leaves when they fall on the pavement. The city may also hold your responsible for any damage that is a result of your actions or inactions. For example, if you have a trees that has roots growing up into the sidewalk, creating cracks or uneven areas, then you may have to fix it.

It is not always easy to know the rules when it comes to sidewalks. However, it is your responsibility to make sure you understand what is your duty and what is the city's duty. You can always call to check if you are unsure. This information is for education. It is not legal advice.


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Riach Gese Jacobs, PLLC
7331 196th Street, SW
P.O. Box 1067
Lynnwood, WA 98046

Phone: 425-329-7857
Phone: 425-776-3191
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