CAN TENANTS FILE PETITIONS TO REDUCE ASSESSMENTS? MATTER OF LARCHMONT PANCAKE HOUSE

On May 8, 2018, the Court of Appeals granted leave to appeal the decision of the Appellate Division, Second Department in Matter of Larchmont Pancake House v Board of Assessors, 153 AD3d 521 (2d Dept 2017).

The decision caused a great deal of concern to the Tax Certiorari Bar.  Briefly stated, the Second Department held that while a tenant is an aggrieved party within the meaning of the RPTL because assessments have a direct effect on its pecuniary interests, Article 5 of the RPTL requires that the property owner file the complaint or grievance to obtain administrative review of a tax assessment.  Since the Pancake House was not the owner, it failed to satisfy a condition precedent to filing the petitions and the Court lacked jurisdiction.

This upset long-standing practice where landlords allow tenants who are responsible for the payment of taxes to protest same.  The determination would require some obligation in the lease requiring a landlord to file a challenge upon demand, or provide clear authority to the tenant to do so.

The Court of Appeals will hopefully correct the situation probably by providing a broader definition of an aggrieved person.

Posted in Tax Certiorari
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