Who is Responsible for Maintenance, Upkeep, and Repairs to Driveways and Parking Lots?

Cracked asphalt, broken concrete, and uneven pavement are a leading cause for trips and falls. When these accidents happen on personal or commercial property, the injured party has the right to sue. However, where the responsibility lies is not always clear.

For instance, when a person is injured on private property being rented by a tenant, it’s often the homeowner who is held legally responsible for those injuries. Injuries sustained on a commercial property can also be the property owner’s responsibility, but not always.

Contracts and leases can determine responsibility

Whether you’re a residential homeowner renting your property or you own a building leased to a commercial tenant, your contractual agreements should explicitly state who is responsible for repairing broken asphalt and concrete. Generally speaking, the property owner will always be responsible for repairs and maintenance, but a contractual agreement might shift that responsibility onto the tenant.

For residential properties, it’s rare that a tenant would assume responsibility for maintenance and repairs. However, if the arrangement is a rent-to-own contract, it’s a possibility. One of the stipulations for a rent-to-own situation might be that the tenant will take on some or all homeowner responsibilities, including repairs to the driveway or roads not maintained by the city.

Regardless of legal responsibility, be willing to fix small issues

When the responsibility for making repairs falls on someone else, you might find it difficult to get them to make those repairs. The good news is you might be able to fix small problems like cracks on your own. All you need to do is get some blacktop crack filler. It’s cheap and easy to use without having to hire a professional. Just be sure you inform the property owner of your intentions to make the repair and get their permission in writing. Don’t rely on a text message because many courts have ruled that text messages don’t count as a legally binding agreement.

Sometimes the city is responsible for making repairs

There are situations where the city is responsible for making repairs to driveways. This would be the case if a driveway had to be torn up to perform work for the city. However, the city won’t make repairs unless they caused the damage. Furthermore, the city probably won’t be responsible for making repairs to a fancy driveway.

For example, the city of LaGrange, GA determined it will repair private driveways that cross the city right-of-way if they’re disturbed during the process of performing road work. However, the city is only responsible for making basic repairs with asphalt and concrete. If a homeowner’s driveway is made of elaborate marble and slate, for example, the city isn’t responsible for restoring that driveway to its original design.

Driveway and parking lot repairs should never be postponed

A large majority of people are accustomed to procrastinating with repairs. Homeowners often fail to make small repairs when tenants report a leak and before they know it, there’s a giant hole in the roof and the tenant is catching water in buckets.

While some repairs are inconvenient but aren’t a threat to anyone’s well-being, broken asphalt and concrete are major hazards. It’s critical to make repairs and perform ongoing maintenance as needed.

For commercial tenants who rent from responsible landlords, getting necessary repairs completed won’t be a problem. However, landlords who don’t feel a sense of urgency to make repairs often need a good reason to make those repairs – like the threat of a lawsuit.

How to manage a situation where repairs are being ignored

If you’re trying to get your landlord to repair broken asphalt or concrete and they’re not moving fast enough, do what you can to mitigate the potential for injury. Rope off the dangerous areas with as much space as possible to avoid accidents. Orange cones aren’t enough. People have been caught on video walking right into coned and roped-off areas because they’re constantly looking at their phone. Some people even fall right into large, roped-off manholes.

Use a solid barrier that will prevent serious injury. If someone runs into your barrier, they might still get hurt, but nowhere near as badly as they would from tripping over broken concrete.