A Dover, Wis., couple has filed a lawsuit in state court in which they allege their property was assessed in 2013 at an “excessive, arbitrary and discriminatory level” after they told an employee with the government-contracted Gardiner Appraisal Service he was not allowed to enter their house.
Tom Kamerick, an attorney with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty who is representing the couple, said the assessor didn’t need to view the interior of the home because the couple had not completed any major building projects since the last town re-evaluation in 2004.
“They already have a valuation of the house, and the point of a re-evalution is to see if anything has changed, and if nothing has changed, there’s nothing to inspect,” Kamenick said.
But several assessors said it’s impossible to give an accurate assessment of a property unless they can look inside.
Assessors shouldn’t assume a homeowner hasn’t performed upgrades to their house if they haven’t been issued any building permits, Wisconsin Association of Assessing Officers President Peter Krystowiak said.
Assessors said it’s impossible to be accurate unless they look inside.
Many remodeling projects do not require building permits, and some homeowners fail to apply for them, said Krystowiak, who also serves as an assessor for the city of Kenosha, Wis.
Krysowiak said municipalities and taxpayers should not reward that bad behavior.
“Assessments are supposed to be equitable and fair for everyone, and if somebody’s doing it the right way, which is taking a permit and telling us and having us come through, I think we have to make certain assumptions on properties where we don’t get through,” Krysowiak said.
If assessors are denied entry into a home they must make the best “educated guess” on values based on similar properties in the area, according to Larry Nicholson, chairman of the state Real Estate Appraisers Board.