FAIRCHILD HEIGHTS, INC. v. ROSEANN AMARO

FAIRCHILD HEIGHTS, INC. v. DEENA AIKEN et al.

SC 18305

Housing Session at Derby

 

Property; Mobile Homes; Municipal Tax Liens; Whether Trial Court Properly Declined to Release Municipal Tax Liens on Certain Mobile Homes on the Ground that such Homes Constitute Real Property Within the Meaning of General Statutes 21-80 (e) (4). The plaintiff is the owner of a mobile home park that is located in Shelton. It filed two summary process actions against the defendants, who owned mobile homes that were situated on lots that they leased from the plaintiff. After judgments of possession were entered in favor of the plaintiff, it filed a petition in which it maintained that the mobile homes had been abandoned and that they should be sold at a public sale pursuant to General Statutes 21-80 (e) (4), which provides in part that such a sale extinguishes "all previous ownership and lien rights." The petition was granted, and at the public sale, the plaintiff purchased the mobile homes. The plaintiff then filed a motion in which it requested that the titles of the mobile homes be transferred to it and that all liens encumbering the homes be released. The city of Shelton filed an objection to the plaintiff's motion, claiming, among other things, that it had municipal tax liens on the mobile homes that could not be released because, pursuant to General Statutes 12-172, tax liens on real estate take precedence over all transfers and encumbrances. In response, the plaintiff argued that pursuant to 21-80 (e) (4), the mobile homes constituted personal property, not real property, and, therefore, the tax liens were extinguished when the mobile homes were sold. The trial court first determined that the language of 21-80 (e) (4) did not indicate whether a mobile home is considered to be real property and that a general review of Connecticut statutes relating to mobile homes revealed that they have been characterized as realty by some statutes and as personalty by others. Accordingly, the court decided that it was necessary to examine extratextual sources in order to resolve the issue at hand and that such an examination led to the conclusion that mobile homes constitute real property within the meaning of 21-80 (e) (4). It reasoned that the extratextual sources indicated that the sale procedure set forth in 21-80 (e) (4) was intended to be similar to a foreclosure by sale of real property in that municipal tax liens were to be given absolute priority over all transfers and encumbrances pursuant to 12-172. It therefore declined the plaintiff's request to release the tax liens. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the trial court's decision was correct.