Sidewalk Maintenance and Repair



What is the Property Owner’s Responsibility for Sidewalks?
When a property is developed, property owners dedicate part of the land as “public right-of-way” for streets, sidewalks, utilities, and similar public uses.  Property owners may not realize they are responsible for maintaining part of the public right-of-way next to their property if the property owner damages the sidewalk.  Possible ways to cause damage to a sidewalk is planting a tree or shrub too close to the sidewalk and growth occurs pushing the roots higher and causing the sidewalk to lift up.   This damage would include areas around the sidewalk including the planting strip or the roadway shoulder if unimproved. 
Why is the sidewalk my responsibility?
City of Federal Way FWRC 4.40.020 requires that property owners keep the sidewalks adjacent to their property fit and safe for the purposes of public travel.  Property owners must repair cracks and other damage caused by the property owner to the sidewalk as well as ensure that snow and ice do not pose a hazard to pedestrians. 
When does my sidewalk need to be repaired?
A sidewalk is considered to be damaged and in need of repair in the following instances:
Cracked sidewalk


A raise or drop in the sidewalk fault greater than half of an inch.  Options for repair:  0 to 2 inches can be ground down.  Over 2 inches would need to be replaced.


Any piece of the sidewalk that can be easily moved with your foot.


The grade/slope of the sidewalk creates a concern for safe pedestrian passage.


What happens if I ignore the notification letter?

The City of Federal Way will request voluntary compliance to replace the identified unsafe sidewalk sections as soon as possible.  If no repairs are made, the City may make the repairs and assess the cost against the property owner in the form of a lien on the property.  The City always prefers to work cooperatively with property owners to accomplish the necessary work voluntarily.


The sidewalk isn’t too bad, why should I fix it?

Even slight defects in the sidewalk can cause pedestrian injuries.  Sidewalk maintenance is important to prevent injuries to a pedestrian and save you from an expensive lawsuit.


I just moved in.  Why didn’t the previous owner take care of the sidewalk problem?

Even if the sidewalk was previously identified as being unsafe to the previous owner, the current owner is responsible for the sidewalk repair.  It is unfortunate the previous owner didn’t fix the sidewalk.


The tree in the planting strip damaged the sidewalk, why do I have to fix it?

If trees are abutting (next to) your property, the property owner or in some cases the Home Owners Association (HOA) has a legal duty to care for the trunk, branches, or roots of trees so the tree doesn’t create a dangerous condition for the pedestrians.


Hiring a concrete contractor?

You can search the Internet (under Sidewalk Contractor, Concrete Repair, General Contractors) or ask friends and neighbors for recommendations.  The contractor must be licensed, insured, and bonded.  Always check references. 


Can I repair the sidewalk?

Yes, you can repair the sidewalk at a single-family residential property, but you will need to apply for a permit and bond, have insurance, and follow the city sidewalk standards.  The sidewalk repair will be inspected by the City of Federal Way after the work has been completed. 


To locate the application forms for the permit and bond, go to and you will see Right-of-Way permit application, the bond form, and samples.



RCW 35.68.010

Any city or town, hereinafter referred to as city,  is authorized to construct, reconstruct and repair sidewalks, gutters, and curbs along and driveways across sidewalks, which work is hereafter referred to as the improvement, and to pay the costs thereof from any available funds, or to require the abutting property owner to construction the improvement at the owner’s own cost of expense, or, subject to the limitations in RCW 35.69-020 (2) and (3), to assess all of any portion of the costs thereof against the abutting property owner.


FWRC Chapter 4.40 Sidewalks

Repair, reconstruction, construction, and maintenance of sidewalks – Responsibility of abutting property owners and occupants

In the event an abutting property owner or occupant causes any damage to a sidewalk by his or her act, error or omission, including without limitation the planting of any tree or other vegetation on his or her abutting property, then the duty, burden and expense of all necessary maintenance, repair, reconstruction and/or construction of a sidewalk necessary in the city’s determination as a result of such damage, shall be the responsibility of such abutting property owner or occupant.


Public Works Right-of-Way (ROW)

Contact Us

PHONE:  (253) 835-2700



 Please contact the Right-of-Way (ROW) department at 253-835-2725 for any questions.

Visit our website below or download out app to report your concern



33325 8th Ave S
Federal Way, WA 98003
Hrs. 8:00 am to 5:00 pm