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Riga City Council has prepared and submitted for public consultation new regulations* for maintaining grounds and structures in Riga, aimed at achieving cleanliness in urban environments while not excessively burdening local residents with maintaining certain areas.

A draft of the regulations can be reviewed and opinion about it can be submitted until 23 March via the municipality’s website, ‘Draft binding regulations’ section. After the public consultation and collecting of the opinions of local residents, the regulations will be examined by the Housing and Environment Committee, and a final decision about it will be made at a meeting of the city council.

The draft new regulations largely keep the current requirements** for maintaining grounds and structures, but there are some significant changes.

The current regulations extend to the entirety of Riga; however, in terms of privately-owned properties, the new regulations govern the maintenance of those grounds that belong to apartment buildings and the areas that are either open to the public or are visible from public outdoor areas. Detached-house areas that are not visible from the outside will only be subject to the requirements of laws, such as those pertaining to proper sanitation, whereas the mowing of grass and leaf removal will not be regulated.

Cleaning grounds in winter

The draft regulations stipulate that in winter, the municipality will maintain the pavements of municipal streets in a centralised manner everywhere in Riga; the regulations also require house owners in the adjacent areas to maintain pavements in winter between where the centralised cleaning takes place and the entrance to their grounds.

In order to improve public safety, it will also be allowed to use pure salt on stairs, ramps and footpaths with a slope of more than 3%. Anywhere else, a sand/salt mixture with a salt content of up to 20% will be used as it has been so far. It is planned to set reasonable requirements for clearing driveways, allowing for them to have a layer of snow (up to 10 cm thick) or ice (up to 5 cm).

In order to reconcile the interests of the public and the ability of maintenance contractors to perform reasonable amounts of maintenance, a rule is kept that requires pavements, footpaths, and open areas be cleaned to 50% of their width (and no less than 1.5 metres wide), and not in their entirety, enabling an efficient use of resources and leaving space for snow banks.

Grass mowing

The new regulations also include changes related to grass mowing and more ways for real property owners to set up urban meadows.

A provision has been introduced requiring grass to be cut in the lawns on the grounds of apartment buildings, on publicly used land, on land facing public outdoor spaces, and in adjacent grounds. Depending on the area where the lawn is located, the regulations require grass to be cut in two ways: first, at least twice a year, and second, regularly, preventing the height of the grass from exceeding 20 cm.

In adjacent grounds, in apartment building grounds, in built-up areas in public use or facing public outdoor areas, and in the 2 m wide strip along public-use access roads, driveways, car parks, pavements, pedestrian lanes, open areas, and along boundaries of real properties that adjoin a built-up property, the requirement is to cut the lawns regularly, ensuring that the height of the lawn does not exceed 20 cm.

In grounds and built-up areas that see less use, that have urban meadow landscaping, grass mowing is required at least twice a year, enabling natural grass growth. The regulations also require lawns to be mown to prevent the accumulation of last year’s dead grass matter. If urban meadows are planned in built-up areas, they can be mown twice a year. In areas where mowing is planned to take place twice a year, the first mowing must be done one month earlier than before, by 31 May.

Leaf clearing

As before, the regulations require keeping the grounds clean, which includes the removal of fallen foliage, branches, or fruit within a 2 m wide strip on each side of traffic ways, driveways, pavements, footpaths, open areas, and hard-surface car parks. The intention of the requirement is to reduce the presence of leaves on engineering structures. For the rest of the grounds of a property (this does not extend to adjacent grounds), leaves can be cleared by 30 April, with the first spring lawn mowing, which also shreds the leaves on the ground.

These two conditions must be considered together when combining the mowing of grass and the shredding of leaves in spring, and taking into account that the 2 m wide strip along traffic ways, driveways, car parks, pavements, footpaths, and open areas in public use must be maintained throughout the season.

Maintenance of structures

The new regulations mainly keep the existing requirements for maintaining buildings, with an added duty for building owners to clean up graffiti.

Liability for breaching the regulations

The new regulations do not prescribe administrative liability for failure to clean up adjacent grounds; if enforcement is required, an administrative order is issued. This means that the municipality will do the clean-up, and charge those required to maintain these grounds the cost of this work.

The Riga Municipal Police (RMP) will be able to issue administrative order if they find that property owners or operators do not clean the adjacent grounds, if proper visual order of fences, gates, and landscaping elements is not maintained, if graffiti is not removed from the facades of buildings.

RMP will be entitled to issue administrative orders in winter if they find that the owner of a building has failed to clear snow, ice, or icicles from the structures of the building, or has failed to clear pavements, footpaths, driveways, or access road and they are slippery (icy), and any delay in clearing them directly endangers the life, health, or property of people.  Given the financial resources available to the municipality and its capacity to promptly hire appropriate contractors, RMP will enforce such administrative orders through substitute enforcement proceedings against the recipient of the order, while the recipient of the order will be required to reimburse the municipality for the costs incurred in performing the substitute enforcement.

However, taking into account that the primary duty to perform this work lies with the owner of the property, and the fact that the municipality will not always be able to promptly fulfil this duty through substitute enforcement, the new regulations also prescribe administrative liability for failure to fulfil these duties, with the goal of deterring persons from refusing to fulfil their obligations. Thus, if it is found that, for example, icicles have fallen from a building, endangering the safety of pedestrians (i.e. the violation or regulation no longer needs to be rectified) the owner of the building can be held administratively liable for failing to clear the icicles in time.

* Binding rules for maintaining grounds and structures within Riga State City Municipality

** Riga City Council Binding Regulations No 146 ‘Binding rules for maintaining grounds and structures within Riga State City Municipality’ of 28 April 2015

Information prepared by: Mārtiņš Vilemsons, Project Coordinator at External Communication Division of Riga City Council Communication Department, e-mail: