• Questionable New York Appellate Ruling
  • July 10, 2015 | Author: Laura Bellotti Cardillo
  • Law Firm: Pullman & Comley, LLC - Hartford Office
  • A group of Buffalo, New York residential property owners filed tax appeals; the City submitted pretrial discovery requests seeking, in part, interior inspections of their homes which had not been performed during the assessment process. New York law requires the assessor to prove that his request to inspect a home is reasonable. The Court found that he could not do so. The Court’s holding relied on a provision in the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (“USPAP”) that an interior inspection “is not always required ....” It also delved into constitutional law protections against unreasonable interference with owners’ privacy rights.

    This rather astonishing ruling seems to ignore the reality that the market value of the plaintiffs’ properties depended in substantial part on the condition and quality of the exterior and interior of their homes. Since a potential buyer would be unlikely to sign a contract to purchase any of the plaintiffs’ homes without being fully aware of outside and inside conditions, it would seem unreasonable on the face of things for an assessor to be expected to arrive at an accurate market value without the same opportunity.

    Perhaps the New York Court of Appeals, to whom the case is now pointing, will have a different view.

    In the matter of Diana Sachs Aylward v. Assessor, City of Buffalo, Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Docket No. CA 14-00624 (February 6, 2015).