Friday, February 6, 2009

Kehrwoche - Sweep Week


Sweep Week

- Roughly translated: "Communal areas cleaning week - Up to you this week"

Cleaning of stairs, entrance and basement and the areas in the house that can be used by all of the tenants.Keeping access and the sidewalk in front of the property clean. In winter it also means that you have to keep the entrance to the house and the sidewalk in walkable conditions (e.g. remove ice or grit the sidewalk, remove fallen snow etc.). Sometimes you are also responsible to put the waste containers out on the street when they are collected by the garbage removal. Some people are really strange and I happened to live once in a house with three apartments - all owned by different landlords - with one shared garbage can. One of the residents passed one day with a key in his hand and wanted to hand me out a key for the chain of the trash can. His original words for those who understand German - and Swabian" I han do a Kette an dr Mülleimer nogmacht. Do kommt do jetzt glei a ganz anderes Gschmäckle nei" - roughly translated: "I put a chain on the garbage can. So there will be a totally different flavor (or odor) to this house". As I said I didn't see any sense to putting a chain to a garbage can - let them steal it! - and refused to participate in this farce, I was called "kleinkariert" which means narrow-minded.

The landlord has the responsibility for these duties but he may delegate it to the tenants and establish a schedule (whose duty it is to sweep, shovel or clean). Instead of this often a commercial service is contracted and you don't need to worry. For the winter duties also a professional service could be contracted. The more comfortable the apartment or the bigger the apartment complex the more likely is such a professional cleaning service.

If you see a "Kehrwochen-Kalender" at the bulletin board or if you see a sign "Kehrwoche" in your stair-case and you have the impression, that this sign keeps moving from apartment to apartment, then you can be quite sure, that there is no cleaning service contracted and the work is done by the tenants on a regular base and schedule. For details ask your neighbors or the landlord. In winter this includes the duty to keep the sidewalks passable.

In the winter you need to keep access to the house and sidewalk in passable conditions. From mornings (about 7 a.m.) till evenings (about 10 p.m.). Passable conditions mean, that someone can walk there, considering the special weather conditions. It does not mean that you have to stay at home when it is snowing in order to keep the sidewalk always free of snow. When it is snowing you don't have to do anything during this period, just clean the sidewalk again when the snowing has ceased. If there is ice on the sidewalk, put grit on it. It is enough, if the ice is not so slippery any more. In most cities the use of salt is illegal. There is a a variety of grit available in many stores, there are also large orange or yellow boxes on the road side where you may take the grit. You may leave the grit on the sidewalk afterwards.
Best, if you check, what are all the other neighbors doing. If they all remove the snow, do so too. If they all let it sit, you may do so too, (grit it to be on the safe side!). Please note that you might be responsible if someone gets hurt because you didn't prevent danger.

Some tips to be accepted at once and praised for your outstanding cleaning commitment:

  • begin very early on Saturday morning so everybody can see and hear you
  • step up and down a couple of times, move the water bucket around and let the broom slide down the stairs at least one
  • us a lot of water so everybody can see that you have cleaned
  • clean the bell panels as well and try to touch all of the bells. If somebody answers tell them that it was just you cleaning the panel.
  • Any other tips from your side are appreciated, tell me about your experiences

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