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Property Tax Appeals for Homes Damaged by Superstorm Sandy

New Jersey law N.J.S.A. 54:4-35.1 allows property owners to request reduced property tax assessments for property damaged as a result of Superstorm Sandy. This law was enacted in the response to a severe Nor’easter which hit New Jersey 1962. That storm caused significant property damage and there was no basis in the law for property tax relief for the affected tax payers. This year, that law is being used to assist property owners who have sustained significant property damage. The statute provides in part:

…When 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, …the assessor shall…after examination and inquiry, determine the value of such parcel real property as of…January 1, and assess the same according to such value.

Usually, when a homeowner files a property tax appeal, the appeal is based on the fair market value of the property on October 1st of the preceding year. Superstorm Sandy hit the coast of New Jersey on October 29, 2012, devastating communities and causing property damage in the United States which has been estimated to exceed $71 billion.

This law is very limited in that it only assists homeowners who have sustained damage between October 1st of the previous year and January 1st of the current tax year. It also requires notification of the assessor by the property owner before January 10 of the current tax year. If a homeowner notified the assessor and filed the appropriate form with supporting documentation prior to the January 10th deadline, the municipality will investigate and issue an assessment.

That new assessment should reflect the damage sustained and be an accurate reflection of the property’s “equalized” (can we link to my other property tax appeal blog?) fair market value as of January 1st. If it is not, the homeowner will then need to file a property tax appeal. The deadline for filing a property tax appeal is April 1st or within 45 days after the notices of property assessment have been mailed by the municipality. Thus, if homeowner has met the notification requirements and the new assessment does not reflect the “equalized” fair market value, action should be taken immediately to file an appeal before the filing deadline.

The attorneys at McLaughlin & Nardi, LLC are experienced in handling property tax appeals from filing the petition to appearing at the hearing. We can assist in evaluating if a property’s assessed value reflects the “equalized” fair market value for the municipality, and, if warranted, our attorneys can appeal that property tax assessment. Contact us by phone at 973-890-0004 or by e-mail.