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We’re used to taking things for granted. Let’s take sidewalks, for example. We expect that they’ll be in excellent and safe condition. When they’re not, we expect that action will be taken to get them back to a high standard. However, that won’t just happen on its own. Someone needs to make it happen. The question is, who is responsible for sidewalk maintenance?
We’ll take an in-depth look at the answer to that question in this blog. Why in-depth? Because the answer isn’t as clear-cut or obvious as most people would think, especially in Kansas City, which does things a little differently compared to the rest of the United States.
Public vs. Private Path
First, let’s think about the different types of sidewalks that may need repairing. They typically fall into two different categories: public sidewalks and private sidewalks. A public sidewalk is not privately owned—for example, the sidewalks next to public streets, in public pedestrian areas, and so forth. Private sidewalks are on private property. This could be a sidewalk at a shopping mall, restaurant entrance, or the pathway leading up to a person’s home.
Kansas State Laws Regarding Sidewalk Repair
In most states, who is responsible for maintaining a sidewalk is dependent on its status, i.e., public or private. If it’s public, then the local government handles the job. If it’s on private property, then the owner of the property is responsible. However, that’s not how it works in Kansas City.
In Kansas, it’s the owner of the property adjacent to the damaged sidewalk that is responsible for the repair, even if the sidewalk is considered “public.” This means that if you own a property in Kansas City and the sidewalk on the “public” side of your front fence needs repair, then you have to pay for the repair, even if the damage was not your fault. Property owners are also permitted to construct (or reconstruct) the sidewalk for which they are responsible even if it is not “damaged,” so long as they follow the specifications as set out by the local council.
When Do Sidewalks Need Repairing?
It seems easy to identify when a sidewalk needs repairing when you’re looking at someone else’s sidewalk, but people are a little more generous when it comes to assessing their own sidewalk. There would be a temptation to say that the sidewalk is in a good state! Alas, whether a sidewalk needs repairing (or not) does not come down to the individual’s assessment.
The council has set criteria. A sidewalk will need repairing if there’s specific damage or issues, including the following.
- A square is cracked, or a piece that measures more than ¼ inch is missing.
- The edge of an adjacent square differs vertically by more than ½ inch.
- The square is upheaved or depressed, resulting in a change in grading.
- The square (or any material used for the sidewalk) is loose.
- The sidewalk is made from unauthorized material.
When Do Repairs Begin?
Some sidewalk repairs are initiated by the property owner, but since many people in Kansas City don’t know that the responsibility lies with them, this usually isn’t the case. The first indication that they need to make repairs comes via a message from the council.
In the past, the Kansas City council had sidewalk repair “police,” who would walk around neighborhoods looking for damaged sidewalks, but that’s not the case anymore. Today, notifications about damaged sidewalks come from the public, who can dial 311 to make a complaint. After that, the sidewalk in question is visited by an inspector. If it’s found to be in need of repair, the property owner is notified.
Funding the Repair
Homeowners and commercial property owners aren’t always thrilled to learn that they need to take care of the repair job themselves. It’s not just the time and energy that bothers them, but the cost of the repair, too. While repairing a sidewalk can be more affordable than people think, it’s not free, and, because it’s unexpected, it’s rarely a cost that people have set money aside for.
The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to have the money for the repair immediately to hand. Indeed, you don’t even need to manage the job yourself. Instead, you can let the council take care of the job on your behalf. You’ll still need to pay for the work, but the council will let you pay off the bill over a period of fifteen years.
What Happens if Someone Is Injured on a Sidewalk?
It’s important to make sure that any land you’re responsible for is safe for the public. If not, then they may have an accident and injure themselves. This is bad on its own, but it could also mean that you’re liable for the injury and have to pay compensation. You’ll be liable for anyone injured on your own property, but what about the public sidewalks for which you are responsible?
While it’s your responsibility to take care of any repairs, it’s unlikely that you would face legal repercussions if someone were injured there. Still, the lack of financial repercussions shouldn’t mean that you should overlook the job of fixing your sidewalk. It’s all about being a good neighbor and ensuring that the community is kept safe.
K&E Flatwork Can Take Care of Your Sidewalk Repairs!
Ultimately, we’re all responsible for keeping our communities safe, and that includes making sure that the sidewalks for which we are responsible are kept in a safe condition. If you require a reliable, professional commercial concrete and sidewalk repair company in Kansas City and the surrounding area, please be sure to contact K&E Flatwork.
We have over a decade of experience delivering outstanding services to our many happy clients. You can get in touch with us by calling (816) 203-1070, sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by clicking the ‘Contact’ button at the top of this page and filling out the contact form.