Attractive Nuisance: Tree Swings, Ropes and Tires

During the past year we have seen an eclectic array of tree swings, swing seats, multicolored ropes and occasionally a tire swing pop up in the trees in front of homes in River Hill. Although the association understands the desire to have options for kids other than the community playgrounds during the pandemic, these structures have not been approved by the Architectural Committee (AC).

These additions are an eclectic mix and not viewed by the AC as a general “improvement” to the properties where they are located. Some people consider them attractive nuisances. Although Maryland is one of the few states that does not subscribe to the attractive nuisance doctrine, the state has been on record as stating that property owners can be held liable for injuries their attractive nuisances cause in places where children have a right to be. Remember, not all the trees on front lawns are the owner’s property, some may be a Howard County street tree or an adjacent owner’s tree.

In addition, an improperly installed structure in a tree, with each movement, can strip tree bark and leave the tree vulnerable to pests and disease. Drilling into a tree is a dangerous process and there is no guarantee that there will be no damage to a tree. Installing a structure in a tree that is not the proper tree type to support it can also be a liability to the tree and/or the owner.

Although ropes, tree swings, tree seats, and tire swings can be a symbol of carefree play and relaxation, the River Hill AC has not approved these items on front or side lawns. Therefore, the association asks that homeowners remove them immediately. We appreciate residents’ cooperation.

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