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December 12, 1995


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Boone County. Nos. 94-MR-20, 94-MR-21. Honorable Alford R. Penniman, Judge, Presiding.

Released for Publication January 16, 1996.

Presiding Justice McLAREN delivered the opinion of the court: Inglis and Geiger, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mclaren

PRESIDING JUSTICE McLAREN delivered the opinion of the court:

This case is a consolidated appeal from two actions for administrative review from a decision of the defendant Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB) correcting the plaintiff Boone County Board of Review's (Board) assessed valuation of two mobile home parks, owned by defendants Robert and Barbara Laken and Amos and Carma Yoder, for the 1991 and 1992 tax years. On administrative review, the trial court affirmed the decisions of the PTAB. The Board appeals. We affirm.

For the tax years of 1991 and 1992, Belvidere Township assessed certain additions constructed by mobile homeowners against the mobile home park owners. Specifically, the assessed additions included canopies, decks, porches, and garages that mobile homeowners, who were leasing lots from the park owners, placed on the lots.

Both the Yoders, owners of the Four Seasons Mobile Home Park (Four Seasons), and the Lakens, owners of the Greenview Estates Mobile Home Park (Greenview), filed real estate assessment appeals with the PTAB, alleging that the additions made by the mobile homeowners were improperly classified as improvements to real estate owned by the Yoders and the Lakens. The Yoders requested an assessment reduction of $84,947, and the Lakens requested a reduction in the amount of $107,917.

Amos Yoder testified at the PTAB hearing that he purchased Four Seasons in 1986. At that time, the real estate consisted of roadways, sewers, and water infrastructure. Yoder testified that each of the approximately 290 lots located on the real estate is rented out to an owner of a mobile home and includes a plot of ground with a driveway, a concrete pier for the mobile home, a concrete slab patio, a sidewalk, an electrical pedestal, and water and sewer risers. Yoder stated that additions to the mobile homes, such as canopies, decks, porches, and garages, are paid for, built, and owned by the individual mobile homeowners. Tenants are allowed to construct the additions, provided that they have a city building permit and the park owner approves of the building materials and determines that the location of the addition meets the setback requirements of the subdivision plat. The lease between Yoder and the individual mobile homeowners provides that when the mobile home owner moves out he is to take the improvements with him. If the improvements are not removed, Yoder removes and destroys any remaining improvements, billing the tenant for the cost of removal. If the mobile home owner sells his mobile home, generally the additions stay with the mobile home, and the purchaser signs a new lease with Yoder. Yoder does not own the additions. The amount Yoder charges for rent varies as between single-wide homes and double-wide homes, but is not dependent upon what additions the previous owner of the home attached to the home.

Yoder also described and explained how the additions are generally constructed. He said that canopies are usually attached to the mobile homes, extending 10 to 12 feet, and rest on aluminum posts which are connected to the concrete slab patio by a concrete anchor bolt. Yoder stated that there was only one deck in the Four Seasons and that he was not certain of how the deck was constructed. He indicated that enclosed porches and garages are usually placed on concrete, some with footings and others on four- to five-inch thick concrete floating slabs without footings.

Yoder further stated that he had no knowledge of how mobile home additions at the Four Seasons were assessed prior to 1979.

Robert Laken testified that he had purchased Greenview in 1973. Similar to the situation at Four Seasons, at Greenview, Laken rents out lots to tenants who own mobile homes. Laken also testified that tenants purchase canopies, decks, porches, and garages for their leased property and that Laken has no ownership in these additions. Also similar to the Four Seasons, Greenview mandates that mobile homeowners obtain park approval for the site of the improvements to ensure compliance with setback requirements and a building permit. In an affidavit, Laken stated that tenants are free to remove or replace additions at their discretion. When a tenant sells his home and the home stays on the site, the addition remains with the home if Greenview finds that the condition of the addition is not deteriorated. Laken stated in his affidavit that the additions are never rented to a new tenant by Greenview. At the PTAB hearing, Laken testified that he has seen some garages moved with the mobile homes.

In addition, Laken indicated that none of the garages currently existing in Greenview have footings and, instead, are all built on concrete slabs. He stated that canopies and decks are constructed in the same manner as those additions at Four Seasons. In an affidavit, Laken stated that canopies are normally affixed to the mobile home. At Greenview, decks are placed on the ground and are sometimes attached to the home, but are not built in the ground in any way.

Laken further testified that, when he purchased Greenview in 1973, the canopies, decks, porches, and garages were not assessed as part of the real estate. He also stated that he had no knowledge of whether the mobile homeowners paid property taxes on the additions to their homes prior to 1978.

The Board contended that the additions to the mobile homes were permanent improvements that should be assessed to the land. Robert Falkenstein, the Belvidere Township assessor, testified for the Board that, prior to 1991, the value of canopies, decks, porches, and garages were not assessed as real property in Boone County, but that he included the value of these improvements when assessing the real estate at Four Seasons and Greenview in 1991. Falkenstein testified that he did so with reliance upon a letter from Ron Hagaman of the Illinois Department of Revenue, which stated, "since decks, patios, garages, porches and carports are additions to the mobile home, they should be assessed as real estate." The parties stipulated that the market value of the additions to mobile homes at both Four ...

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