Boundary Issues in Real Estate – Use It or Lose It

Ownership of real estate in Louisiana may be acquired by 30 years possession.  A 2005 case illustrates how a good deed came back to hurt a former owner.   House and Fence

In the case both parties owned property adjacent to each other in the City of New Orleans on Metairie Road.  In 1951, Lee the defendant, built a building near his property line with the plaintiff, from which he operated a dry cleaning business.  His customers and employees used a triangular shaped piece of land as a parking area.  All parties agreed the triangular parking area was not on Lee’s land, but on land that originally belonged to the plaintiff.

At trial various customers testified to having parked on the lot.  The plaintiffs agreed that they knew the parking area was being used by the Lees, but did not complain because they were trying to be neighborly.  There is a saying about good deeds coming back to hurt you.

The Court ruled that the Lee’s possession of the parking area was continuous, uninterrupted, public, unequivocal and within visible bounds.  Since it continued for more than 30 years the Court held that Lee acquired ownership of the triangular area by acquisitive prescription.

The Court concluded that although the plaintiffs were aware of the Lees use of the land, they made no formal attempt to stop the use by the Lees until filing suit, some 47 years later.    903 So.2d 661

 

How do I dispute my real estate property tax assessment? There are 4 levels of appeal.

_1140656Many of us think that our taxes are too high, but when it comes to property taxes you can actually do something about it.  You have to pay attention to timing, as the assessor’s rolls are only open for a short period.  In Orleans Parish the books are open from July 15 through August 15. In the other parishes the rolls are open from August 1 through September 15.

You can go to your assessor’s office when the books are open and make your case why your taxes are too high.  Unless there is an obvious error, a gut feeling is not going to get you very far with the bureaucrats.  It is essential that you bring documents to make your point.

Your property is assessed at a percentage of its fair market value.  Fair Market Value is defined as the price a property would bring on the open market between a willing and informed buyer and seller, if exposed for sale for a reasonable amount of time.  Helpful documents would be a recent appraisal, a builder’s contract for necessary repairs, copies of recent sales of comparable properties and always, bring photographs of your property.  If you and the assessor come to an agreement, then you have won and the process is over.

If you cannot come to an agreement at the meeting with the assessor’s customer service representative then you can submit you can submit an appeal to the Board of Review of the assessor’s office.  This is usually done by mail or online, so you wil  make your case entirely by the written word.  The watchword is to be concise and marshal your facts, as you want to make it easy for them to agree with you.  Get to the point and avoid extraneous justifications.  The Board of Review will send you their written decision by certified mail.  Either you or the assessor can appeal the Board of Review’s decision to the Louisiana Tax Commission in Baton Rouge.  In some Parishes the assessor appeals as many of 50% of the Board of Review’s decisions to the Louisiana Tax Commission.

If you cannot come to an agreement at the meeting with the assessor’s customer service representative then you can submit you can submit an appeal to the Board of Review of the assessor’s office.  This is usually done by mail or online, so you wil  make your case entirely by the written word.  The watchword is to be concise and marshal your facts, as you want to make it easy for them to agree with you.  Get to the point and avoid extraneous justifications.  The Board of Review will send you their written decision by certified mail.  Either you or the assessor can appeal the Board of Review’s decision to the Louisiana Tax Commission in Baton Rouge.  In some Parishes the assessor appeals as many of 50% of the Board of Review’s decisions to the Louisiana Tax Commission.

Your signature on the certified mail initiates the 10 day period you have file your appeal with the Louisiana Tax Commission, but this 10 day period may be waived for cause.  A taxpayer’s appeal to the Louisiana Tax Commission should be filed on their Form 3103 A.  The Louisiana Tax Commission holds public hearings.  You can call them for the schedule.  If you receive an unfavorable decision from the Louisiana Tax Commission you have 30 days to file a judicial appeal in the District Court.

The following are some useful websites:

Orleans Parish Assessor’s Property Owners Guide

http://www.qpublic.net/la/orleans/docs/10steps.pdf

Orleans Parish Assessor’s Website

http://nolaassessor.com

Jefferson Parish Assessor’s Website

http://www.jpassessor.com

Louisiana Tax Commission’s Website

http://www.latax.state.la.us