Assessment Procedure for the Assessment Review Board Complaint Process

Goal

To provide direction and information about the Assessment Review Board (ARB) complaint process for residential properties, including condominiums, farms, and managed forest and conservation land properties.

Background

A property assessment includes the value and classification of a property as determined by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC). Property Assessment Notices are usually mailed in November, however, only those property owners with changes made to their property would receive a notice. Local municipalities use the assessment to determine how much property tax property owners will be required to pay.

The Assessment Review Board is an independent adjudicative tribunal administered by the Ministry of the Attorney General. Its main function is to hear complaints from people who believe their properties have been incorrectly assessed or classified. The Board also deals with complaints about other matters, such as school support designation.

There is a fee for filing a complaint with the Assessment Review Board. The amount varies according to property classification. For further information on filing fees, please visit the Assessment Review Board online at elto.gov.on.ca/.

Sections 40, 44 and 45 of the Assessment Act set out the jurisdiction of the Assessment Review Board and the issues that it can deal with.

Any person may file a complaint to the Assessment Review Board if they feel:

  • their current value assessment is too high
  • they have been wrongly placed on or omitted from the assessment roll
  • their school support is incorrect
  • their property classification is incorrect
  • if a property has more than one property class, the portion that is attributable to each class is incorrect

Any of these complaints may be filed by the owner of a property, a third party, a municipality or a school board. The person who filed the complaint is referred to as the complainant. The person or party responding to the complainant is referred to as the respondent.

A person may also file a complaint on a supplementary assessment or an omitted assessment. The deadline for filing these complaints is indicated on the bottom of the Supplementary or Omitted Property Assessment Notice.

Before Filing a Complaint

If a property owner does not agree with their assessment, they may want to consider the following options first:

  1. Contact the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) at 1-866-296-6722.
  2. Ask MPAC to review the assessed property value and/or classification. MPAC will review it free of charge. A request for review may be made no later than December 31 of the taxation year in which the request is made. Click here for more information on the Request for Reconsideration (RfR) process.

Through the Request for Reconsideration process, the property owner may be able to provide MPAC with information that was not available at the time the property was last assessed, or be able to correct inaccurate information that has played a part in the assessment. Filing a Request for Reconsideration with MPAC is free. In many cases, this service can help to avoid the Assessment Review Board process altogether. The property owner may be able to get a refund for the filing fee if:

  • both a Request for Reconsideration and a complaint to the Assessment Review Board have been filed and the Request for Reconsideration was made before filing the complaint;
  • a settlement is reached with MPAC through the Request for Reconsideration process prior to the hearing date for the complaint set by the Assessment Review Board; and
  • the complaint is withdrawn before a hearing at the Assessment Review Board has commenced.

Filing a Complaint

Complaints must be filed in writing, using the Assessment Review Board’s notice of complaint form available at MPAC offices, municipal offices, government information centres, or online at elto.gov.on.ca/. It is important to specify on the form the nature of the complaint.

When the Assessment Review Board receives a complaint, they send an acknowledgment to the complainant. If the appeal was filed on time and fee is paid, the ARB will proceed to assign a commencement date and schedule of events. The ARB has two hearing proceedings with different requirements—the summary proceedings and the general proceedings. If the property appealed is classified as residential, farm, managed forest or conservation area, the appeal will be heard by way of Summary Proceeding. All other Assessment Act appeals will be heard by way of General Proceeding. All parties will be expected to comply with due dates specified in the assigned schedule of events for an appeal. If the parties are unable to settle the appeal amongst themselves, the ARB will schedule a hearing. The schedule of events includes a due date for parties to file with the ARB all issues and documents on which they intend to rely on at the hearing. No issues may be raised, or documents admitted as evidence if they have not been filed with the ARB by this due date. Under Rule 90 of the ARB’s Rules of Practice and Procedure, all hearing events in Summary Proceedings will be electronic hearings, meaning that parties will be provided a call in time for the hearing unless the Board directs otherwise. If the hearing has been approved by the ARB to be conducted in-person, it will be held in a location as close as possible to the municipality where the property is located.

 The Assessment Review Board will schedule a date and time for the hearing event to take place. The ARB will send notification to all parties containing the teleconference numbers and the scheduled time slot for the hearing. The parties involved in the complaint process are:

  • the complainant and all persons whose property assessment has been appealed;
  • the municipality; and
  • the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, usually represented by a Case Management Analyst and/or a Property Valuation Analyst (PVA) from a local MPAC assessment office.

Before the hearing:

  • The Property Valuation Analyst will review the nature of the complaint and contact the respective property owner and Municipality to ensure all parties understand the issue and to review the information, clearly explaining why the assessed value or the property classification may be incorrect.
  • In addition, the Property Valuation Analyst will verify, through either an inspection or a conversation with the property owner that all of MPAC’s data used to arrive at the assessed value and/or classification is complete and accurate.

The property owner has the option of logging in to aboutmyproperty.ca where they can review information on up to 24 properties of their choice to compare their assessment with the assessments of other properties. Detailed property profile reports include:

  • address
  • roll number
  • current value assessment
  • sale and site information
  • residential structural details (e.g., square footage)

Selection and information about comparable sale properties and any other relatable property information must be disclosed by the Property Valuation Analyst in compliance with the due date specified in the assigned schedule of events for the appeal. The ARB Rules of Practice and Procedure require that all of the evidence that all parties intend to rely on at a hearing be filed with the Board by a date set out in the Schedule of Events. Rule 82 specifically states after the day set out in Rule 33 as the start of a proceeding, a Board will not alter any timeline set out in the schedule of events (i.e. adjournments), other than in exceptional circumstances. For more information on adjournments, see the information sheet available on the ARB’s website at elto.gov.on.ca/arb/.The Property Valuation Analyst will:

  • review all of the evidence
  • advise if the assessed value and/or classification should be changed
  • if a change is recommended, prepare Minutes of Settlement for consideration by the property owner

If the property owner, the Property Valuation Analyst and the municipality agree with the adjusted assessment, all parties will sign the Minutes of Settlement and MPAC will submit them to the Board. There is no need for a hearing to take place.

Directive for Settlements before the ARB

MPAC endeavours to ensure that appeals of assessments are resolved at the earliest opportunity and that last minute settlements immediately before or at ARB hearings are discouraged.

Mandatory Settlement Meeting

Each appeal must follow a schedule of events which outlines the procedural steps that parties must complete and the due date for completing each step once the Assessment Review Board has assigned a commencement date for an appeal. The parties must schedule and hold a settlement meeting between all the parties to the appeal before 12 weeks (Summary Proceeding) or 62 weeks (General Proceeding) after the commencement date. This is your opportunity to discuss the issues in the appeal and attempt to come to some agreement. At this meeting, you will determine the outcome of the appeal, and notify the Board of next steps using the Mandatory Meeting Outcome Form. After the meeting, MPAC must file the Mandatory Meeting Form with the Board.

Settlement Conference

A settlement conference is scheduled under the schedule of events for a General Proceeding. The ARB will schedule a settlement conference after the parties have filed disclosure, statement of issues, statement of responses and reply, all documentary evidence, witness statements and expert reports.

A settlement conference is a hearing event before the ARB where there will be discussions between the parties. At the settlement conference, the ARB Member will assist parties to resolve some or all issues in dispute. In addition, the ARB Member will discuss with the parties whether a mediation or full hearing will be suitable to resolve the appeal.

Mediation

Mediation is available for assessment appeals heard by way of General Proceeding. Mediation may also be considered for other types of appeals, but mediation is generally not available for residential properties. In accordance with the schedule of events, mediation is generally available after parties have participated in a Settlement Conference. However, parties can request mediation in place of a Settlement Conference. This request can be made prior to the Settlement Conference if the parties believe mediation can assist in resolving the appeal.

Mediation is a process where a Member of the Assessment Review Board helps parties reach a voluntary, mutually acceptable solution on some or all of the issues in dispute. Parties may request mediation by writing to the ARB and copying all parties on the request. The ARB may also start the mediation process without a request from a party.

Two weeks before the mediation, you will need to provide a written outline of the issues in dispute, your position on the issues, and the reasons for your position. This mediation brief will help the ARB Member prepare for your mediation. If an agreement is reached during mediation, the parties must submit Minutes of Settlement to the ARB in accordance with the due dates for filing that are set out in the ARB’s Rules of Practice and Procedure. If the parties cannot resolve the dispute through agreement, the ARB will schedule a hearing.

For more information on a mandatory settlement meeting, settlement conference and/or mediation, please refer to the ARB’s Rules of Practice and Procedure and the Practice Direction on Mediation which can be found on the ARB’s website at elto.gov.on.ca/arb/ or by calling the ARB at (416) 212-6349 or toll free 1-866-448-2248.

Settlement Procedures

 In accordance with the ARB’s Rules of Practice and Procedure Rule 69, the following guidelines must be followed with respect to settlement procedures for all property classes:

  1. MPAC, or the municipality, if MPAC is not a party to the appeal, must draft the written minutes of settlement within 60 days of advising the Board that the appeal has been resolved.
  2. All other parties must sign the minutes of settlement, and return them to MPAC or the municipality, as the case may be, within 90 days of advising the Board that the appeal has been resolved.
  3. MPAC, or the municipality, as the case may be, must file the fully executed minutes of settlement with the Board within 7 days of receipt of the fully executed minutes of settlement.

Decision to Issue

In accordance with the ARB’s Rules of Practice and Procedure Rule 70, the Board may issue a decision in accordance with minutes of settlement that are not fully executed if:

a.            the minutes of settlement are executed by all parties but one

b.            the time set out in Rule 69 for executing the minutes has passed

c.             a party has requested that the Board issue the decision. If a settlement cannot be reached, the complaint will proceed to a hearing.

If one of the parties cannot attend on the date set for the hearing, they may request an adjournment in writing to the Assessment Review Board, outlining the reasons for the request. All requests for adjournments must be submitted before the due date or appearance before the Assessment Review Board. However, adjournments will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. It is the responsibility of the person requesting the adjournment to obtain the consent of all other parties. The Assessment Review Board requests proof of this consent in its decision to grant the adjournment. If your request for an adjournment of an appearance before the ARB is denied, the ARB will proceed with the hearing as scheduled and you will be expected to attend.

If a complainant decides to withdraw a complaint already filed with the Assessment Review Board, they must do so in writing to the Board, and should include the property’s assessment roll number. The Assessment Review Board will advise all affected parties of the withdrawal.

Preparing for an Assessment Review Board Hearing

If a settlement cannot be reached, the complainant may consider the following:

  • Meet with the Property Valuation Analyst to get an understanding of how the property is assessed. The Property Valuation Analyst is ready and willing to answer questions and help property owners better understand how their assessment is determined.
  • Identify the properties that are most comparable to the complainants. The Assessment Review Board will ask the complainant to present this information as evidence during the hearing.
  • Obtain sales information on the property and comparable properties in the vicinity, concentrating on sales occurring around the valuation date. Local real estate offices and newspapers are a good place to start. Check real estate listings for properties with similar lots sizes and homes within the neighbourhood or municipality. For example, if the property is a bungalow, it is best to search for information on other bungalows. Obtain the assessed value of comparable properties in the vicinity focusing on:
    • the size of the lot, frontage and depth;
    • building size, (using outside measurements in square feet, not including the basement, garages or porches);
    • structure details, including age, quality and condition, type of structure (e.g., detached, semi-detached, split-level), number of storeys and number of bathrooms; and
    • if the basement is finished.
  • Obtain photographs of the property and the comparable properties selected.

It is not always possible to find a comparable property that is an exact replica, try to select similar properties as close as possible to the property under compliant.

For waterfront residential property, it may be more difficult to find similar properties. Comparable properties should be selected from the same lake, river or canal. On a larger lake or river, properties in the same vicinity should be selected.

Most waterfront properties are unique and when selecting comparables, it is important to consider the differences in several features of the properties in addition to structure details, including:

  • location
  • amount and type of frontage (i.e., sandy versus rocky)
  • shape or size of the lot
  • available services

Assessment Review Board Hearing

 The Assessment Review Board will schedule a date and time for the hearing event to take place. The ARB will send notification to all parties containing the teleconference numbers and the scheduled time slot for the hearing. Under Rule 90 of the ARB’s Rules of Practice and Procedure, all hearing events in Summary Proceedings will be electronic hearings, unless the Board directs otherwise, meaning that parties will be provided a call in time for their hearing. The ARB’s Rules of Practice and Procedure require that all of the evidence you intend to rely on at a hearing be filed with the Board and disclosed to all parties that appear on the Schedule of Events by a date set out in said Schedule of Events.

The complainant can bring someone to the hearing to speak on their behalf if there is a language barrier. The Assessment Review Board provides French-language hearings upon request by the complainant.

Before the hearing begins, the Assessment Review Board member will explain the hearing process and will follow these steps:

  • The parties are sworn in or affirmed.
  • The Property Valuation Analyst briefly describes the property under complaint, including the property details, the method of valuation and the valuation date.
  • The Property Valuation Analyst will then present the evidence, outlining the reasons why the assessment or classification is correct. This may include:
    • a detailed description of the property and the neighbourhood in which it is located;
    • a list of MPAC’s comparables - the same ones that were given to the property owner;
    • sales information about the property and the comparable properties; and
    • any legislation and policy that may clarify how the assessment had been determined.
  • The complainant may then ask the Property Valuation Analyst about his/her evidence (this is referred to as cross-examination).
  • If the municipality is participating, they may cross-examine the Property Valuation Analyst about his/her evidence.
  • The municipality may present their evidence.
  • Both MPAC and the complainant may cross-examine the municipality about their evidence.
  • The complainant is then asked to present his/her evidence outlining the reasons why the assessment and/or classification are incorrect. At this point, the complainant explains to the Assessment Review Board member why the assessed value is in not accurate or the classification is incorrect. The Assessment Review Board member has not seen the property in question, so it is important that the evidence is clearly communicated. With respect to the comparable properties selected, the Assessment Review Board member will compare the complainant’s assessed value with comparable properties based on their features. The complainant may also present information collected about the sale of his/her own property, if recent and the sales of similar properties in their neighbourhood.
  • The Property Valuation Analyst and the municipality may ask the complainant about his/her evidence presented.
  • All parties may make a closing argument, also known as submissions.
  • All parties may have the opportunity to reply to the closing arguments.
  • The ARB will make a decision on the complainant’s appeal or reserve its decision for another day.

For more details on preparing for a hearing and presenting a case to the Assessment Review Board, please visit their website at Assessment Review Board

Assessment Review Board Rules of Practice and Procedures

Resolving Assessment Concerns - Request for Reconsideration

Sample Property Assessment Details Report

Sample Property Profile

Note: This procedure has been developed to provide the public with a general understanding of the assessment procedures for the Assessment Review Board compliant process. The applicable law prevails to the extent there is any conflict between the procedure and the relevant law.

Note: The applicable law prevails to the extent there is any conflict between this information and the current law. This information is not intended to provide legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.