Fallen Trees on Rental Properties — Who is responsible?

In the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia, where gorgeous cabin rentals sit along the mountainside, trees are lush and abundant. This tree-studded scenery is a big reason so many guests come to the area, enjoying peaceful afternoons on their cabin’s deck or days hiking in the Chattahoochee National Forest. And it’s a BIG reason why so many people want to invest in North Georgia vacation rentals.

But…the area often has substantial rainfall, dry periods, and wind storms. The combination of many trees and swings in weather can lead to weaker trees — and ultimately to falling trees that can down power lines, damage homes, or even injure others. To be prepared, vacation rental homeowners should understand who is responsible for fallen trees plus implement proper tree care at their property year-round.

Property Damage & Homeowners Insurance

While it’s not always the case, because of the density of cabins in the area, falling trees often cause property damage…quickly becoming a short-term rental liability. A fallen tree or even downed tree branches may cause substantial damage to your vacation rental and be very expensive to have removed. Worse, it could cause damage to a neighbor’s yard or even a neighbor’s home. If that happens, who is responsible for damages and cleaning up? If YOUR tree falls on YOUR property, you’ll simply be responsible to reach out to your vacation home insurance. But what happens if your tree falls on a neighbor’s property or your neighbor’s tree falls across your property line? 

According to property insurance guidelines, unless it’s a case of negligence, the homeowner whose property was damaged is usually responsible. So if your neighbor’s tree falls on your vacation property and causes damage, it will likely be your responsibility to file a claim with your insurance. Your insurance will then decide whether to subrogate the claim against the owner of the tree that fell in accordance with your homeowner’s insurance policy. While it may not sound like a fair deal, insurance companies have a unique way of defining “acts of God or nature” when it comes to risks and claims. 

Professional Tree Service 

What is considered negligence? While every case is unique, you might be held responsible (negligent) if you knew a tree on your property was infested with pests, diseased, or likely to fall AND neglected to attempt to remedy the problem. This is why it’s always important to maintain your vacation rental’s landscaping and take care of any possible issues before they become significant. 

If you have trees or overhanging branches on your property that (based on their size/location) could cause damage to a neighbor’s property if they fell, consider having your insurance agent do a property insurance review. Find out what your coverage limits are and consider hiring a professional arborist to examine your property, assess tree damage possibilities, and even perform tree removal if necessary! 

Vacation Rental Assistance

As always, if you have any questions, please give us a call. At Georgia Cabins for YOU, we have many years of experience navigating fallen trees, insurance claims, and many other vacation rental issues alongside our partnered property owners! Give us a call at 1.800.580.5524. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have!