Manitoba

Manitoba Municipal Board

Assessment Appeals

Hearing

How to Prepare

After the appeal has been filed, preparation will help ensure that your hearing will be productive. Most property owners have no experience in dealing with The Municipal Board and, while their claims may be valid, they may end up being unsuccessful because they were unable to present their position in an effective manner. By following the procedures below, an owner can come to the Board with an understanding of what the Board requires to make a decision and what is needed to respond to the case put forward by the Assessor.

Although this information is provided to assist you in preparing your appeal and appearing before the Board, it is not meant as a guarantee that you will be successful in your appeal. Only the panel hearing the appeal and considering the submissions of both parties can make a decision.

Describe your Property

Describe the property including both its attributes and deficiencies. The Assessment Department's field sheets will confirm the department's understanding of the physical condition of your property. If there is any discrepancy between the Assessor's information and the actual physical condition of the property, the department should be advised immediately as they may be prepared to adjust the assessment to reflect the deficiency. If the Assessor is not prepared to make any adjustment, the Board will require photographs of the deficiencies and a written estimate of the costs to repair them by a contractor.

It would also be advisable to have the contractor present at the hearing to answer any questions of the Board and the Assessor.

The Assessor is entitled to an inspection of your property for the purpose of preparing for the appeal. The Municipal Assessment Act (MAA) prescribes penalties for failure of a property owner to accommodate an Assessor's request for such an inspection.

Reference Date
Under the MAA, the assessing authority must reassess property within its jurisdiction every two years.

The reference date is the date on which the market conditions within a particular jurisdiction are considered to determine the value of property. The reference date for the 2010 re-assessment is April 1, 2008, for 2012 re-assessment April 1, 2010, for 2014 re-assessment April 1, 2012, and for the 2016 re-assessment it will be April 1, 2014.

Comparables
Your closest neighbours with similar homes, who have sold their property prior to April 1, 2008, are the best comparables. Since it is recommended that you find three or four different comparables, you may need to consult a realtor or the Assessment Department to find appropriate properties. The City of Winnipeg Assessment and Taxation Department (http://www.winnipegassessment.com) and Manitoba Local Government Provincial Assessment Services websites (http://www.gov.mb.ca/assessment) are also good resources to search for comparable properties. Please note that no post-reference year information is allowed. For a 2010 assessment, this means that no sale information after April 1, 2008 will be considered.

To determine whether a property would be a valid comparable, consider the following:

  • Location
  • Proximity of services
  • Size of lot
  • Size and age of house
  • Topography
  • View
  • Number and size of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Basement (included? finished?)
  • Fireplaces
  • Garage/carport
  • Outbuildings
  • Significant repairs required?
  • Detractions from enjoyment (odours, traffic, trains, industrial noise)

For condominiums, considerations include:

  • What floor the unit is on
  • Location - corner, end, or middle of building
  • Floor plan
  • Parking (underground vs. street)
  • Elevators
  • Balcony
  • Size of unit

Rural areas are more difficult as there are fewer comparable properties, especially in the particular reference year. A broader search area will likely be required, which means that different market conditions will have to be taken into account.

To help the Board compare properties, once you've gathered the information, it is the usual practise to set out the properties, with their addresses, legal descriptions, attributes, and sale prices, along with your property, in a comparison chart. Include photographs and mark the locations of all of the properties on a map.

Once you have compiled this information, review it on your own to determine whether your property is over-assessed in comparison to your comparables. If the properties similar to yours have sale prices similar to your assessment, it will be less likely that you will succeed in your appeal. The Board does not consider the assessments of other properties and asks that this information not be provided at the hearing.

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What to Expect

At the Hearing
Although by the time an appeal reaches The Municipal Board it has been heard at the Board of Revision, the Board's hearing is "De Novo". This means that while the issues raised are limited to those raised at the Board of Revision, the hearing is conducted as if it were completely new. All evidence must be submitted as if for the first time and the Board will make its own decision on the evidence presented at the hearing. The only information that the Board has regarding the Board of Revision hearing is their decision. It is important to note that the Board is not provided with the information presented at the Board of Revision Hearing and, in fact, the evidence presented at each hearing may be different. All hearings are open to the public and all evidence intended to be relied upon at the hearing is also public.

Burden of Proof
At a hearing, the burden of proof is on the Assessor regarding value, which means that the Assessment Department presents its evidence first. The burden of proof may be shifted to the Owner if the Owner failed to co-operate with the Assessor's request for an inspection. The burden of proof is always on the Owner if the appeal relates to the classification of property.

Hearing Procedure
The Board typically sits as a panel of three - one member acting as Chair and two as members. The appeal begins with opening matters - confirming the property in question, year under appeal, roll number(s), assessment, and grounds of appeal. Any problems of conflict of interest of Board members or the need for an adjournment are dealt with as preliminary issues.

The hearing proceeds with either the Assessor or Owner presenting their case in full. All evidence is given under oath or affirmation. For the purpose of this explanation, the burden of proof will be on the Assessor.

The Assessor proceeds first, followed by the Owner, following this format:

  • Presentation of evidence to support the assessed value
  • Questions from the Owner regarding the evidence presented i.e. cross-examination
  • Questions from Board Members
  • If a new issue is raised during this cross-examination, the Assessor may address it

The entire process is then repeated, with the Owner presenting their case in full. The Owner may submit rebuttal evidence to respond to any new issues raised by the Assessor.

The Assessor may then present their rebuttal evidence with respect to any issue raised by the Owner that was not addressed by the Assessor.

Both parties may then present summations of their positions.

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Using Evidence
The similarities of all of the comparables to your property will be the basis for both your case and the Assessor's. Explain why your comparables are more similar or appropriate than the Assessor's. The Board cannot make its own findings outside of the evidence that is presented to it.

Tactics include:

  • The properties similar to yours have lower sale prices - meaning that your assessment should be lowered to match.
  • The Assessor has used comparable properties which are not similar enough to yours. The areas which differ show that your property should be assessed at a lower value than the sale prices of the Assessor's comparables.
  • There are problem areas that the Assessor missed in his assessment or did not consider correctly. The Board will require a written estimate of the cost of repairs from a contractor.
  • The Assessor's comparables are not as similar to your property as your comparables - thus your assessment should reflect the sale prices of your comparables.

Challenging Evidence
Rebuttal evidence is presented by a party to address any new issues raised by the other party. Do not re-argue your original position.

In cross-examination, a party may ask questions of any witness on all facts in issue and on all matters going to the credibility of the witness. Leading questions are permitted. If the intention is to contradict the witness, the contradictory evidence must be put to the witness. Cross-examination can assist a party in obtaining additional helpful information, qualifying the evidence, impeaching the evidence or impeaching the credibility of a witness.

The Board's Decision
The Board's decision is based on evidence presented at the hearing. The Board deliberates and makes a decision and prepares a written Order outlining the decision and the reasons for the decision.

The Board is only able to respond to what the parties seek on appeal. Prior to January 1, 2002, if you, as the Owner, appeal and the Assessor did not, then The Municipal Board could only lower your assessment or confirm its original value. It could not raise the assessment. Under new legislation, effective January 1, 2002, The Municipal Board can also increase the assessed value to an amount greater than its original value, if the Assessor files a notice of intent to seek an increase or an appeal to The Municipal Board (at least 10 days before the hearing).

Appeals to the Court of Appeal
A party may seek leave to appeal an Order of The Municipal Board to the Court of Appeal but only on matters of law or jurisdiction.

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