Cobb County

City orders popular vacation rental in Kennesaw to shut down, says treehouse must be torn down

KENNESAW, Ga. — A popular vacation rental that has been around for five years is shut down and must be torn down.

Ryan McGovern, a Marine veteran and retired Atlanta Police Department officer, told Cobb County Bureau Chief Michele Newell he relies on his small family business for the majority of his income.

McGovern, the owner of the Treasure Hunt Treehouse, said he spent nine months constructing Treasure Hunt Treehouse with his dad and professional builders.

He said the Airbnb, which is located right behind his home, was built like an actual house.

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“Pillars are sunk into concrete and there hasn’t been an inch moved in 5 years,” McGovern said.

Treasure Hunt Treehouse is a place couples and families rave about online in videos and they leave five-star reviews.

The treehouse is filled with clues to hidden treasures, it’s equipped with a bedroom, refrigerator, microwave, with a shower and toilet located inside a bathroom on ground level.

Journals filled with compliments from customers are on the property. McGovern says the biggest compliment he gets about the treehouse is how much it makes adults feel like kids again.


But the popular vacation rental is headed towards a path McGovern says he never saw coming.

“When I called six years ago I asked what kind of permits I need to obtain for a treehouse. They said they don’t give permits for treehouses but just to make sure it was under a certain square footage,” McGovern explained.

The city of Kennesaw released this statement:

“On March 17, the City of Kennesaw received a Code Violation Complaint referencing the property at 2924 Galt Place, citing unpermitted structures. Following the complaint, it was determined that none of the proper permits (building, electrical, plumbing) were obtained for the Accessory Dwelling Unit located on the property. Without the application for permits, the structures would not have previously been inspected. The structures have now been posted as unsafe. The property owner has 30 days to apply for and obtain a demolition permit and demolition must take place within 30 days following the receipt of the permit,” Rebecca Graham, Kennesaw City Communication and Engagement Manager, said.

McGovern said the treehouse is hidden to the neighborhood, guests park in the driveway of his home and he said he’s never had incidents on the property and guests don’t throw parties.

McGovern created a petition and gathered signatures from neighbors who are in support of the vacation rental, but he said it wasn’t enough.

McGovern tried to plead with the mayor of Kennesaw and the city council during a council meeting, but it wasn’t enough to change their minds.

“I pled with tears in my eyes at the city council meeting, just begging them for mercy to do something. The treehouse produced 75,000 per year. I split and gave half to my parents the other half is what we lived off,” McGovern told Channel 2 Action News.

McGovern is working two jobs, trying to figure out how to pay his mortgage and put food on the table for his wife and small children.

McGovern said he would make any city-recommended modifications to the Treasure Hunt Treehouse, but he said that’s not even an option.

If he doesn’t demolish the property by the deadline, McGovern said he will be fined $1,000 a day. He said he’s canceled all reservations for the remainder of the year and issued $6,000 in refunds.

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Michele Newell

Michele Newell, WSB-TV

Michele Newell has been part of the WSB-TV family since November 2021. Before moving to Atlanta, Michele worked at TV news stations in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Columbus, Ohio and Steubenville, Ohio.