Durante v. County of Santa Clara
Facts: Two property owners hold a 50% interest in a property as tenants-in-common. One owner, who does not live on the property, grants the other, who does live on the property, a life estate in their interest in the property. The county reassesses the property for the purpose of calculating property taxes, which the owner-occupant pays.
Claim: The owner-occupant seeks a property tax refund, claiming the property should not have been reassessed since the granting of a life estate is a transfer of personal property, not a transfer of ownership which triggers reassessment.
Counterclaim: The county claims the property reassessment was valid since the granting of a life estate interest is a transfer of real estate and therefore constitutes a transfer of ownership.
Holding: A California appeals court holds the reassessment was valid since any transfer of interest in the property is a transfer of real estate necessitating a reassessment of the property’s value. [Durante v. County of Santa Clara (November 30, 2018)_CA6th_]