Applications (Complaint forms) must be received by the Assessment Bureau (City Hall, Room 101A) by the Third Tuesday in March, 8 p.m. (ET).
Click here for the Complaint On Real Property Assessment Before the Board of Assessment Review (RPTL 524).
The Board of Assessment Review (BAR)
This is the formal process to review and change Assessments and Exemptions at the request of the property owner or designated representative. Failure to take this step prevents use of further appeals such as a Small Claims (SCAR) action or a RPTL Article 7 Tax Certiorari proceeding.
The BAR process conforms to New York State’s requirements under Real Property Tax Law (RPTL 523,524,525) and to the City Charter (6-91 E). After the Assessor files the Tentative Assessment Roll the only way to amend the roll in regards to Assessed Values, Exemptions and Properties is to petition the BAR. City Council appoints this public board which conducts open hearings to review petitions from property owners and to then adjourn for private deliberations (to determine any changes and certify the Final Assessment Roll, which becomes the basis for constructing the Tax Roll).
BAR Configuration / Qualification
City Council appoints 5 permanent members who serve 5 year terms. Additional 1 year appointees assist in filling out BAR panels that conduct hearings. Only City residents may serve on the BAR, and typically have a background in real estate market valuation (such as Realtors, Brokers, and Appraisers) and or have a familiarity with financing. The Assessor, Assessment Staff, and City / County Government Officials cannot serve on the BAR thus ensuring independence and impartiality when hearing property owner petitions. BAR members receive compensation for hours served.
The BAR can only review applications received by the Bureau of Assessment by the submission deadline: the Third Tuesday in March, by 8 p.m. (ET). The property owner can designate a representative on the application. The BAR cannot raise the Assessed Value nor can it lower it below the amount requested in the application. Staff will contact the owner or representative to schedule a date and time for a hearing. Typically, hearings are scheduled at 10 minute intervals, with up to 5 minutes for the owner’s or representative’s presentation, 3 minutes for the Assessor’s or Staff’s, and 2 minutes for discussion. Please prioritize the presentation accordingly. All participants are sworn in and audio minutes recorded for these official hearings. After the presentations and discussions, the BAR adjourns for private deliberations. Results of the deliberations are mailed at the end of the hearing process for the year – typically late in April. The BAR may decide to adjourn the hearing to another time and date for the participants to provide information requested by the BAR to assist in deliberations.
Tips for a Successful Hearing
Be on time to preserve the full 10 minutes of hearing time. Be prepared by prioritizing the presentation and materials. 5 good photographs and or comparable sales will garner more attention than 50 that are unorganized. Remember the BAR is open-minded and not working for the Assessor, be persuasive by being respectful. Be informative, provide market data, speak to the property’s condition, and provide Exemption specifics. Remember the Assessment Values and Exemptions placed on the Tentative Roll must be assumed as correct unless a property owner proves to the BAR otherwise.
Included with the BAR application are materials to assist in preparing a presentation including resolutions from the BAR outlining what they find persuasive for Homestead (1, 2 or Family Residences) or NON-Homestead (everything else) properties. Residential values typically depend on comparing recently sold similar properties. Commercial values focus on net income after usual property expenses. The application and supporting materials are linked below, as well as helpful information from New York State.
- Click here for a link to ORPS documents describing this process.
- Click here for the NYS ORPS booklet "Contesting Your Assessment"
- Click here for the NYS ORPTS pamphlet "How to Estimate the Market Value of Your Home"
- Click here to search for property data, assessments and comparable sales.
- Click here for the BAR Application form:
"Complaint On Real Property Assessment Before The Board Of Assessment Review" RP-524, City Of Rochester , including helpful “Exemption Challenge Instructions”, Resolutions and “Request for Information Form” (for commercial properties).
As mentioned the BAR adjourns from the public hearing to a private meeting to deliberate. The BAR may conduct several hearings in a row for different properties and or owners before adjourning to deliberate. Sometimes the BAR may adjourn a hearing to another date or time, or delay deliberations, after requesting the owner or representative provide additional information. The BAR informs the property owner or representative of the decision by mail. Mailings occur at the end of the process, typically in late April.
The BAR decisions are limited: They cannot raise the Assessment above the Tentative Assessment Roll Value or lower it below the amount in the application. They may choose an amount in between. They cannot rule in opposition to NYS law or regulations such as those governing application dates for Exemptions or property disposition on the Tax Status Date.
Sometimes when the BAR makes a decision not to change the Tentative Assessment Roll Value, the decision letter will mention “insufficient evidence”. This is not necessarily a critique of the effort put into the presentation or supporting materials, but rather a short-hand statement that other information proved to be more persuasive in determining the Value or Exemption.
Any decrease made by the BAR remains in effect for 3 years or until the next Reassessment, unless the property description and or condition significantly changes.
The BAR decision establishes the Final Assessment Roll used to construct the Tax Roll and subsequent Tax Bills. If the owner is dissatisfied with the BAR decision further appeals are possible. But remember while pursuing further appeals, tax bills cannot be ignored. Of course, the owner can pursue the BAR process the next year. Click here to read about the additional appeal processes.