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Sidewalk ice causing problems for apartment complexes

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - It has almost been a week since the winter storm hit Region 8.

Mother Nature has taken care of melting the ice off the streets, but apartment complexes are still almost impossible to walk in.

"You can't get out of the apartment complex. It's a solid sheet of ice and it's dangerous," Jonesboro resident Marilyn Luter said.

Ice almost two inches thick on the walkways has trapped Luter in her home.

Luter and other tenants want to know, "Why should we have to wait for Mother Nature?" They said management should take care of it.

"They just said there was nothing they would do about it. If they did anything, they'd be liable," Luter said.  

Luter has lived at her apartment complex for almost 6 months. She said she has never had a problem until now. Luter said this is grounds to break her lease.

"They've just chosen not to do anything so they would have no liability. But in the meantime, you can't go any where. You're just stuck. I haven't even been to my car since Thursday. I don't wanna have to test the liability laws in Arkansas," Luter said.

Luter contacted the management's corporate office and got the same answer. She then called Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's office for answers.

"I got a very nice gentleman there and he said Arkansas had no law about snow removal, that that was their [the apartment complex's management] interpretation of the law. And he said unfortunately, there was nothing they could do," Luter said.

Luter said she was one of many calls complaining to the office about the same thing.

"He just said contact your representatives if you want to change the law, but that doesn't help us now," Luter said. 

Luter said she offered to get rid of the ice herself, but management stopped her.

"They told me that if I would try to do it, I would be liable if anybody fell and not to use salt because that's a corrosive material. But I couldn't even get out to get the salt or shovel. But after they said that I would be liable, it sort of makes you say, 'Ok, why don't you do it.' But they don't seem to want to do that," Luter said.

She said this has turned into an ethical issue.

"The fact that they just didn't seem to care about that was really troubling to me because I think, ethically, they would care about their tenants and the safety of their tenants. But I haven't seen that," Luter said.

Aaron Sadler with the attorney general's office confirmed the office is not aware of an Arkansas law that prohibits management from clearing walkways.

Region 8 reached out to the complex's management, but never heard back.

Lawyers said if tenants fell on rented property, they could sue management under common law. But contrary to what management told Luter, she would not be liable if another tenant fell on walkways that she cleared herself. The liability would fall to the complex's management. 

However, lawyers said management could still refuse to clear the walkways because it already feels adequately protected with its general liability insurance coverage.

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