Defending an Allegheny County Assessment Appeal
How Do I Know If My Property Is the Subject of an Assessment Appeal?You will know that your assessment has been appealed because you will receive a Notice of Appeal from the Taxing body that filed the appeal. Another way to determine if your property's assessment has been appealed is to look on the Allegheny County Real Estate web site at: http://www2.county.allegheny.pa.us/RealEstate/search.asp. From there you should enter your property address to find your particular property's information. Then click on the Appeal Status tab to see if an appeal has been filed.
When Will I Have My Assessment Appeal Hearing?Hearings are generally scheduled within a few months of the appeals being filed. This will depend of course, on how many appeals were filed and how overwhelmed the County is at that particular time. Your official Notice of Scheduled Assessment Appeal Hearing will arrive approximately two (2) weeks prior to the hearing date. If the scheduled date is not convenient for you, you may request one (1) postponement. But this must be done in writing and it must be received by the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review at least seven (7) days before the scheduled hearing date.
What Do I Bring to My Assessment Appeal Hearing?You should bring a copy of your Hearing Notice and if you are sending someone on your behalf, they should bring a signed Appointment of Authorized Representative. This form can be found at: http://www.alleghenycounty.us/opa/aforms.aspx
At the hearing you should be prepared to present evidence that will support your opinion of value. You should consider bringing the following:
1. An appraisal;
2. Evidence of the sale prices of similar properties in your neighborhood (i.e. Comparables or Comps.);
3. A copy of your property's assessment information from the county web site; and
4. Evidence of any repairs that need to be made to your property and the costs for such repairs.
Remember to bring three copies of everything you plan to present. One for the Hearing Officer, one for the Taxing Body's representative, and one for you.
What Will Happen After My Assessment Appeal Hearing?After the hearing, the Hearing Officer will thank you for presenting your evidence and inform you that a decision will be sent to you by mail shortly. Shortly is a relative term. Your should count of receiving your decision within six (6) to eight (8) weeks. Once the decision arrives you will have thirty (30) days from the mailing date to file an appeal of your own. This next level appeal is a slightly more complicated process and it may be worth your time to consult an attorney prior to embarking on that particular journey.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Represent Me At My Assessment Appeal Hearing?Many people (my guess is half) hire attorneys to represent them at these Assessment Appeal Hearings. Whether you do or don't is a personal decision. The obvious reason to hire a lawyer is that the lawyer (if chosen carefully) will have much more experience than you in these types of cases. This allows him/her to better represent you than might be able to yourself. Also, by hiring an attorney, you can save yourself time because you do not have to attend the hearing, your lawyer can go for you. This alone is enough reason for many people to obtain counsel.
In the end, if you have the time and ability to present your case thoroughly may be able to handle such an undertaking on your own. If however, you don't have the time or you are not sure about what to say or do, it may be worth the peace of mind to call on a professional.