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Volume 2 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 73

Opinions of Counsel index

Assessment (designation of owner) - Condemnation Law, §§ 13, 15; Real Property Tax Law, § 302(1):

Title to real property condemned pursuant to Condemnation Law does not vest in the condemnor until payment is made to the condemnee.

Our opinion has been requested concerning the assessment of parcels, a portion of which are being taken by condemnation. Real property is assessed according to its condition and ownership as of taxable status date. (Real Property Tax Law, § 302(1) ) The question is as to ownership of property subject to condemnation.

In a condemnation proceeding, first is a judgment by the court that condemnation is for a public purpose and the appointment of commissioners to ascertain the amount of the condemnation award (Condemnation Law, § 13), followed later by a confirmation of the commissioners’ report and a final order in the proceeding directing compensation to be paid to the landowners (Condemnation Law, § 15).

As to the passage of title to lands being condemned, the general rule is that title does not pass until compensation is paid. In other words, the payment of the compensation and the passing of the title are presumptively simultaneous acts.

Sections 13 and 15 of the Condemnation Law indicate that, while the judgment in condemnation and the order of confirmation necessarily come at different times, the condemnor does not acquire title until the property owner has been paid.

While the above constitutes the general rule, it should be noted that this rule may be changed by statute (see, Highway Law, §§ 29(6), 29(18), 30(6), 30(19); 19 N.Y.Jur., Eminent Domain § 65).

July 7, 1972