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Filing a joint petition for a review

November 26, 2010

Q: My husband and I live in a condominium community and we were recently speaking with our neighbors about the paradox of rising costs and decreasing property values. Our tax bills arrived recently and there has been a slight decrease but none of us thought the reductions really reflected the true decline in property values. Can we do anything about this?

A: You can certainly try. Individuals can file for a review but there may be better solution for you and your neighbors.

Florida Statute Section 194.011(3) permits owners of condominiums, cooperatives and homeowners association properties to file a joint petition for a review. It allows associations as defined in State Statutes 720.303(1) and 723.075, with approval of its board of administrators or directors to file with the value adjustment board a single joint petition on behalf of any association members who own parcels of property which the property appraiser determines are substantially similar with respect to location, proximity to amenities, number of rooms, living area, and condition.

The association must provide the unit owners with notice of its intent to petition the value adjustment board and must provide at least 20 days for a unit owner to elect, in writing, that his or her unit not be included in the petition.

Once the board of directors passes a resolution it may file the tax appeal petition with the Value Adjustment Board. The Value Adjustment Board will appoint a special magistrate to conduct a hearing to determine whether the market value of the property set forth on the TRIM notice was higher than the actual market value on January 1 of this year.

There are several advantages to this collective approach. The fee for filing is less per property and can be paid by the association. The association can also include factors that may not be as impactful when presented by an individual unit owner. Foreclosures and delinquency rate, increases in insurance costs, storm damage and the presence of Chinese drywall or mold are worth mentioning.

Also, collective filing is an appropriate step to take because Florida Statutes 718.111(3) and 720.303(1) specifically authorizes the association to protest ad valorem taxes for the common facilities.

Consider having this action reviewed by an attorney who understands the overall implications of a joint petition for review.

Attorney Sylvia Heldreth is a Certified Specialist in Real Estate Law. Her office is located at 1215 Miramar Street in Cape Coral.

This article is not intended as specific legal advice to anyone and is based upon facts that change from time to time. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting upon any matter involving the law.



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