For many community associations, the wet and stormy summer we’ve been experiencing here in Georgia means an uptick in damages from falling water-logged trees and branches. Given that association-owned common area and individually-owned units and lots often lie in close proximity to one another, these falling branches and trees give rise to the inevitable question: who pays for the damage?
Under basic Georgia common law, ownership of a tree is determined by the property upon which the tree’s trunk is located. If the tree’s trunk is located entirely on one piece of property, then that tree belongs to the owner of the property on which it sits. If the tree trunk stands on two or more pieces of property, then each property owner owns that portion of the tree that is located on his or her property and has an easement of support from the other landowners who share the tree. That means that each landowner has the right to require that the other landowner not use his part of the tree in such a way as to unreasonably damage or destroy the whole tree.