“Oh Sandy” – No relief from Superstorm’s destruction on residential assessment

by: Richard De Angelis
11 May 2015

Two and one-half years after Superstorm Sandy, many New Jerseyans are still wrestling with the destruction wrought by that storm.  Thousands of New Jersey property owners received some relief from reduced property tax assessments to reflect the damage to their properties, although some local assessors were more realistic in assessing the damage to property values.  For one homeowner, a 30% reduction in the improvement value (i.e., the amount of the assessment attributable to the house) was not enough.  And, he was probably correct, although, he argued that the home was worthless.  While the home probably warranted more than a 30% reduction, it probably was not worthless, but plaintiff failed to provide sufficient evidence upon which the court could make a value determination and therefore, the assessment was affirmed.

In Cap v. Borough of Belmar, Plaintiff argued that his Superstorm Sandy damaged home was boarded up and uninhabitable as of the valuation date for tax year 2014.  In support of his claim that structure held no value, plaintiff produced photographs and the resolution the zoning board of adjustment that approved the demolition of the house.  But, as noted by the court, plaintiff failed to provide any evidence as to the extent of the damage to the home or the cost to repair same.  Nor did plaintiff provide any evidence of value of the property in its damaged state as of the assessing date.  As a result, the court affirmed the assessment, finding that plaintiff failed to overcome the presumption of correctness.  The court concluded that while plaintiff provided some evidence of damage to the home, he failed to provide any evidence upon which the court could determine what the value reduction should be in dollars.

A copy of the Tax Court’s opinion may be found here.

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After the Storm: Property Tax Issues After Sandy