Eighth District Court of Appeals Issues Guidance on Real Estate Tax Complaint Procedures

The Eighth District Court of Appeals for Cuyahoga County, in four separate cases, ruled on a variety of procedural points with regard to real estate valuation appeals:

1.         In Berea City School Dist. Bd. of Edn. v. Cuyahoga Cty. Bd. of Revision, 2012‑Ohio‑4605, October 4, 2012, the property owner filed a complaint and obtained a reduction in value and the school district for the area then appealed that decision to the BTA.  Because the reduction was less than the property owner desired, the property owner appealed to the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

The school district then filed a motion to dismiss the Common Pleas Court action, stating that the Board of Tax Appeals had jurisdiction; the property owner also filed a motion to “remove” the property owner’s appeal to the BTA.  Both motions were granted.

The school district then filed a notice of voluntary dismissal which was granted by the BTA, leaving the property owner with no forum in which to present its position on appeal.

2.         In Kiddie Co. Enrichment Ctr. v. Cuyahoga Cty. Bd. of Revision, 2012‑Ohio‑5717, decided December 6, 2012, the managing member of the LLC plaintiff brought a complaint in his and his wife’s individual names challenging the valuation of three parcels of real estate that were owed by the LLC.  The complaint was dismissed by the Board of Revision, because the complaint was not filed and/or did not list the correct owner of the property.

A second complaint was then filed by the LLC, but it was dismissed by the Board of Revision for the reason that it was the second filing in the same triennium and outside of specific statutory exceptions.

The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that the trial court had not addressed whether the first complaint was or was not signed by the member in his individual or “corporate” capacity.

3.         The purchaser of real property at a tax sale auction who received a certificate of tax sale does not have standing to file a complaint for valuation with the Board of Revision, and the BOR does not have jurisdiction to hear it.

The certificate gives the holder an equitable interest only – an agreement to transfer title.  The party filing the complaint must be the legal owner as evidenced by the possession of a deed or deed filed with the County Recorder.   NDHMD Inc. v. Cuyahoga Cty. Bd. of Revision, 2012‑Ohio‑5508 (Eighth District Court of Appeals, November 29, 2012).

4.         When the taxpayer University Hospitals Health Systems Inc. filed a valuation complaint with the Board of Revision in the name “University Hospital,” and not the correct corporate name, the Board of Revision dismissed the complaint.  The Board of Tax Appeals affirmed.

The Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the Ohio Supreme Court has been unwilling to find or enforce jurisdictional barriers not clearly statutorily or constitutionally mandated.  Here, the use of the name “University Hospital” in Cuyahoga County was enough to identify the complainant.  Univ. Hosps. Health Sys., Inc. v. Cuyahoga Cty. Bd. of Revision, 2013-Ohio-1665 (Eighth District Court of Appeals, April 25, 2013).

Contact Attorney Frederick M. Lombardi for more information on real estate tax valuation procedures.