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Volume 10 - Opinions of Counsel SBRPS No. 83

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessment review (standing) (mobile home owner); Assessments, generally (mobile home parks) (tenant’s standing to grieve) - Real Property Tax Law, §§ 102(12)(g), 524:

If a mobile home is properly separately assessed to its owner, as provided in section 102(12)(g) of the Real Property Tax Law, the mobile home owner may grieve the assessment on his or her parcel. If, however, the value of the mobile home is properly included in the value of the land assessment, then the mobile home owner has no standing to challenge the park’s assessment unless he or she has been designated by the park owner to represent the owner at grievance day or the mobile home owner’s lease gives him or her standing to grieve.

Assessment complaints may be “made by the person whose property is assessed, or by some person authorized in writing by the complainant or his officer or agent to make such statement who has knowledge of the facts stated therein” (Real Property Tax Law, §524(3)). We have been asked whether a tenant in a mobile home park is entitled to file such a complaint.

“Trailers” or “mobile homes” [now also referred to as manufactured homes] were first defined to be real property subject to taxation in 1954 (c.726). Section 2(6-a(b)) of the Tax Law provided that “Trailers shall be assessed to the owners of the real property on which they are located.” When the Real Property Tax Law was recodified in 1958 (c.959), the quoted provision was included in section 102(12)(g). As amended when the school tax relief [STAR] exemption (RPTL, §425) was enacted (L.1997, c.389, pt. B), the provision now reads:

The value of any trailer or mobile home shall be included in the assessment of the land on which it is located; provided, however, that if either the trailer or mobile home or the land on which it is located is entitled to any exemption pursuant to article four of this chapter, other than the exemption authorized by section [425] of this chapter, such trailer or mobile home shall be separately assessed in the name of the owner thereof.

Accordingly, although assessors usually enjoy discretion as to the assessment of separately owned land and improvements (Doughty v. Loomis, 9 A.D.2d 574, 189 N.Y.S.2d 413 (3d Dept., 1959), aff’d, 8 N.Y.2d 722, 167 N.E.2d 643, 201 N.Y.S.2d 100 (1960)), section 102(12)(g) of the RPTL removes that discretion as to mobile homes. Simply put, if a mobile home owner locates his or her mobile home on land owned by another, the value of that mobile home must be included in the land assessment, unless either the mobile home owner or the land owner is entitled to one or more of the exemptions included in Article 4 of the RPTL, except STAR, in which case, the mobile home must be separately assessed.

If a mobile home is properly separately assessed to its owner as provided in section 102(12)(g), in our opinion, that owner may grieve the assessment on his or her mobile home which is listed as a separate parcel on the roll (see, 2 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 11). If, however, the value of the mobile home is properly included in the value of the land (often a mobile home park) assessment (because the mobile home owner is entitled to no exemption other than STAR), then, again in our opinion, the mobile home owner has no standing to challenge the park’s assessment unless he or she has been designated by the park owner to represent the owner at grievance day or the mobile home owner’s lease gives him or her standing to grieve (see, Waldbaum, Inc. v. Finance Administrator of City of New York, 74 N.Y.2d 128, 542 N.E.2d 1078, 544 N.Y.S.2d 561 (1989); K-Mart Corp. v. Board of Assessors of County of Tompkins, 176 A.D.2d 1034, 575 N.Y.S.2d 185 (3d Dept., 1991); 919 Third Ave. Associates v. P.J. Clarke’s Inc., 166 A.D.2d 382, 561 N.Y.S.2d 187 (1st Dept., 1990), app. dsmd., 77 N.Y.2d 989, 575 N.E.2d 400, 571 N.Y.S.2d 914 (1991); 7 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 123).

June 14, 1999

Updated: