Do you disagree with your property’s assessment? Now is the time to contest it

Written by Cassandre Louis

In September, several municipalities, including the cities of Montréal, Chambly, Saint-Jérôme, Lévis, Sorel-Tracy and Rimouski, tabled their new three-year property assessment rolls effective January 1, 2023.

You probably received your tax account a few days ago and may be wondering whether the new assessment is worth contesting. Below are a few things you should consider before making a decision.

1. Your property’s value

The first mistake people make is comparing their assessment with their neighbours’. Though it’s a natural reflex, keep in mind that this information has little to no bearing on your property assessment, since it may well be that your neighbours’ properties are valued incorrectly, not yours.

The question you should actually ask yourself is:

Would I, on July 1, 2021, have been able to sell my property at the price determined by the City?

If your answer is yes, your property value has likely been assessed correctly. If you feel that the answer is no, there may be grounds for contesting the assessment. To answer this question, you can research comparable property sales in your area or hire a professional to do so.

Other factors, such as an extended vacancy in an income property or upcoming expenses for major renovations (e.g. roof repairs), can also be considered when determining your property’s value.

2. Its impact on your taxes

We also recommend that you check the actual impact on your taxes, since a 50% increase in value doesn’t necessarily mean a 50% increase in the taxes you owe. Also note that some municipalities spread the increase over the three years during which the roll is in effect. It’s important to take this potential impact on your future tax bills into account.

Finally, note that contesting your property assessment won’t just impact the current (three-year) roll, but also subsequent rolls in which your property’s value is indexed based on the revised assessment.

3. Contesting a property assessment

Barring special circumstances, you can only contest your property assessment when a roll is tabled, which happens every three years.[1]  Building owners in municipalities whose roll started in 2023 can thus contest their new property assessment before May 1 of that year.

There are two steps in the contestation mechanism. The first is to file an application for review with the municipal body responsible for assessment.[2]  This application must be filed before May 1 following the coming into force of the roll.[3] If you are dissatisfied with the assessor’s response, you can bring the matter before the Administrative Tribunal of Québec.[4]

We recommend that you carefully check your property’s valuation in the assessment notice your municipality sent you to promptly determine whether there are grounds to contest it.

If you believe your property has been overvalued, we encourage you to contact our expert municipal and expropriation law team.

[1] Section 14 of the Act respecting municipal taxation, CQLR c. F-2.1.
[2] Section 124 of the Act respecting municipal taxation, ibid
[3] Section 130 of the Act respecting municipal taxation, ibid
[4] Section 138.5 of the Act respecting municipal taxation, ibid