HARTFORD/WINDSOR HEALTHCARE PROPERTIES, LLC v. CITY OF HARTFORD; TRINITY HILL REALTY, LLC v. CITY OF HARTFORD,

SC 18498

Judicial District of New Britain

 

Taxation; Nursing Homes; Whether Plaintiffs' Nursing Homes should have been Classified as Either Residential or Apartment Property for Purposes of Real Estate Taxation. The plaintiffs own parcels of real estate in the city of Hartford, which are occupied by two nursing homes. In 2006, the city adopted a system of real estate taxation pursuant to General Statutes 12-62n, whereby the effective rate of taxation for a particular parcel depends upon whether the property is classified as residential property, apartment property or commercial property, the latter of which is subjected to a substantially higher rate of assessment. For purposes of the grand list of October 1, 2006, the tax assessor for the city classified the plaintiffs' parcels as commercial property. After the city's board of assessment appeals upheld the tax assessor's classifications, the plaintiffs filed these tax appeals in the Superior Court, arguing that the subject parcels should have been classified as either residential or apartment property in accordance with 12-62n. In rejecting the plaintiffs' claim, the trial court noted that under 12-62n, "residential property" is defined as "a building containing four or fewer dwelling units used for human habitation." It then determined that the term "residential property" could not be applied to the subject parcels because each nursing home contains substantially more than four units. The court then turned to the issue of whether the nursing homes should have been classified as "apartment property," which 12-62n defines as "a building containing five or more dwelling units used for human habitation." It concluded that nursing homes do not contain "dwelling units used for human habitation" because nursing home residents are not tenants who are simply provided with residential quarters, but are instead patients who receive specialized treatment services pursuant to various statutory and regulatory requirements. It added that an expansion of the legislative definition of apartment property to include nursing homes would contravene the general rule that provisions granting a tax exemption must be construed strictly against the party claiming the exemption. Accordingly, the court affirmed the city's classification of the subject parcels as commercial property. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the trial court's decision was proper.