Public Property Leased or Rented by Taxable Owner
Qualifying Conditions. The assessor shall assess and tax publicly owned real or personal property for the assessed or specially assessed value thereof uniformly with real property of nonexempt ownerships when the following conditions of a lease or other interest or estate less than fee simple are met. A lease or other possessory interest exists if the occupant is granted exclusive possession of a definitely described area for a specified period of time (term).
Exclusive Possession. The test is whether the occupant has sufficient control over the premises to warrant the label of possession. If the occupant can exclude others, including the owner (except for inspection, making repairs etc.) the occupant has possession. But, if the premises must be shared with others, such as a common pasture, the occupant does not have a possessory interest. When the property can be used for many purposes such as farming, recreational, residential, or mining, the right to use it for a single limited purpose might not constitute possession; yet, the same right to use may well be regarded as possessory if the property in question is used for a limited number of purposes. If the property in question is of little use for anything other than mining or recreation, the grant of the right to use it for one of these purposes embraces a substantial part of all of the practical uses to which the land may be put. Therefore, although such use is limited, it could be considered “exclusive.”
Revocation. A possessory interest may exist even though the agreement provides that it may be revoked upon notice, for cause or upon the happening of some event. If the use may be terminated, without notice or cause, it may be a mere non-possessory license which is ordinarily revocable at will and without notice.
“Management” or “Concession” agreements present special problems. For example, a county and a private corporation agree that the corporation will operate a county owned golf course for the county. Even though the agreement requires the corporation to meet many standards as to services, pricing, personnel etc., the corporation may still have a possessory interest if it has the exclusive right to occupy and operate the facilities without interference from the county and retains the major part of the proceeds. However, if the county is actively involved in the operation and allows the corporation a minor portion of the proceeds as compensation for its services, the corporation may be considered a mere agent or employee of the county.
Parking Lots and Similar Arrangements. If the right is merely a “hunting license” to park in any available space, it is non-possessory. However, if a specific space is assigned, the interest may be possessory if the other conditions are met.
Area. The occupant must have possession of an area that is definitely described or capable of being described.
Term. A possessory interest may be for any period of time the parties agree upon.
Rent. A lease is a contract and requires some sort of consideration in terms of money, goods, services, or other benefits.