New Jersey adopted a law that may help property owners whose property was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. However, you need to act quickly to take advantage of the law.
New Jersey assesses real property on an annual basis using October 1 of each year as the date of valuation. For example, 2013 tax assessments are based upon the condition and value of property as of October 1, 2012. Since Hurricane Sandy arrived after the valuation date, any decrease in value caused by Hurricane Sandy may not be relevant in a 2013 tax appeal.
However, there is an exception to the rule. If your property sustained significant damage that caused a “material depreciation” in the value between October 1, 2012 and January 1, 2013, you may be entitled to a reduction in your tax assessment.
The law in question (N.J.S.A. 54:4-35.1) provides:
When any parcel of real property contains any building or other structure which has been destroyed, consumed by fire, demolished, or altered in such a way that its value has materially depreciated, either intentionally or by the action of storm, fire, cyclone, tornado, or earthquake, or other casualty, which depreciation of value occurred after October first in any year and before January first of the following year, the assessor shall, upon notice thereof being given to him by the property owner prior to January tenth of said year, and after examination and inquiry, determine the value of such parcel of real property as of said January first, and assess the same according to such value.
To take advantage of this law, you need (1) a building or structure that was damaged, (2) the damage must cause the value to be materially depreciated, and (3) you must notify the tax assessor of the damage before January 10, 2013. It is advisable to send a written notice to the tax assessor, via certified mail, immediately and follow up with a call. You may access the statewide directory of tax assessors here.
If you have any questions or need assistance in sending a notice to your local assessor, please contact Timothy P. Duggan, Esquire, at 609-895-7353 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tim Duggan is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark's Bankruptcy & Creditor's Rights Group in our Lawrenceville, New Jersey office. For questions, or additional information, please contact Mr. Duggan.