2021 Property Assessments Appeal Deadline is February 1st

  14 January 2021

IMPORTANT: if you want to preserve your right to appeal your property assessment, the deadline is February 1. If you plan to dispute your assessment, you should contact BC Assessment before the end of the month. COVID drives more of the process online.

NOTE: As it did last year, AEC Property Tax Consultants is offering CHF BC members a break (20%) on its normal recovery rate. AEC also offer  a complimentary review of your property assessment. You still won’t pay for AEC’s services if an appeal is unsuccessful. (See below.)

Property assessments are again in the news

Media outlets are reporting general increases in values for single family homes (especially), and also for townhomes and apartments.  CHF BC has this year focused on longer-term trends. We commissioned some data from BC Assessment Authority directly to look at what’s happened in Vancouver over the last decade-and-a-half or so. Vancouver is home to nearly 40% of the non-profit housing co-ops  in the province . Half of these co-ops are on land leased by the City.

We focused on co-ops with City leases this year to support the work being done on lease renewals to see what trends could be observed.

Change is assed values of City leased properties, 2007-2020

The chart above (click to expand) highlights key findings. It combines data between 2007 and 2020 for 43 co-ops representing 47 properties. Properties that did not have data for the entire period were excluded. A couple of stratified or only part-co-op properties were also excluded. For example, co-ops such as First Avenue Athletes Village and Fraserview are not included as they did not exist in 2007.

Assessed values are broken down into the components attributed to the land (green) and the buildings (grey). At all times during the study period, the land represented the greater component, but it’s important to focus on the total value rather than the breakdowns. Total assessed values actually went down during the 2007-2008 financial crisis, but began to grow again within a few years. Overall the total assessed values increased about 70% between 2007 and 2020.

As Always

Co-ops should remember that increases in assessed value do not translate directly into property tax increases. Only if your property value increases more (or decreased less) than the average in your area will you see proportionally higher tax increases compared to other property owners. Homeowner grants may have an offsetting effect and appealing a property assessment is an option. This year the deadline is February 1. You should act now if you wish to preserve your right to appeal.

Arguing against your assessment

There are three common avenues to appeal your assessment (beyond notifying BC Assessment of simple clerical mistakes):

  1. Your buildings may be worth less than BC Assessment thinks, due to needed building repairs and renewals. This is usually the easiest argument to make. It will be assisted by supporting engineering documents (e.g. building condition assessments showing needed capital works) to make this kind of overvaluation claim. Remember, if your co-op has seen significant capital works over the last couple of years, relative increases in your assessed value should be expected.
  2. Legal restrictions on the use of the land can also reduce property assessments. Covenants on title may serve to lower the assessed value, as may other land use restrictions. Some co-ops with leases have seen property assessments decreases or reduced increases over the last number of years.
  3. Sometimes BC Assessment just gets it wrong. Comparisons with other similar, nearby properties are the best way forward in these cases, and that takes some research.

Co-ops will sometimes make appeals on their own, sometimes with the assistance of management companies, and sometimes they seek help from professional consultants.  Although we are not making any recommendations, we do know that AEC has worked with co-ops (and non-profit societies) in recent years. AEC can be contacted through Vance Leschuk (direct tel: 604-629-4644, email: vleschuk@aecpropertytax.com) . There are other firms that do similar work. Some firms will charge hourly rate fees for their services, others may seek compensation based on the size of the property tax reduction they are able to obtain for their clients (e.g. AEC). If your assessment has gone up significantly, you may want to appeal.

The BC Assessment website has information you’ll find helpful. However your co-op decides to proceed, please remember the deadline for filing an appeal is February 1, 2021.