The majority of our firm’s evictions and tax appeals involve properties in Monmouth County, where our office is located, and Ocean County, directly to our south. The economic climate of Monmouth County makes it a unique for both evictions and tax appeals. While United States Census data ranked Monmouth County 38th among the highest-income counties, 4.5% of the families in Monmouth County live below the poverty line. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of evictions we handled in Monmouth County increased by 10%, with most of our eviction matters remaining in the municipalities of Asbury Park, Long Branch, Red Bank, and Neptune. The Monmouth County Landlord Tenant Court runs efficiently, with most cases being reached within 4 weeks of the date on which they are filed, and with most lockouts eligible to occur within 2 weeks of the date on which they are requested.
On October 29, 2012, Monmouth and Ocean Counties both sustained severe damage to its homes and businesses as floodwaters from Hurricane Sandy rose to levels of thirteen feet above normal. The destruction resulting from Hurricane Sandy caused unprecedented diminutions of property values as both buildings and communities were destroyed. Some of the residents of properties that were destroyed have taken advantage of an emergency statute, which allows a reduction of the “improvement” component of their assessment following a catastrophic event. These adjustments were available in 2013, provided that the tax assessor was put on notice of the damage prior to January 10 of that year. Others filed tax appeals to reduce their assessments to reflect all of the loss in value to their properties. However, these appeals were not cognizable until 2014. The end result has been lower tax bases for municipalities, who are now compensating for their short falls by raising their tax rates.
In 2014, Monmouth County became the first County in New Jersey to participate in a new procedure that requires tax appeal applications to become due on January 15, rather than on the usual April 1 deadline. The program originated out of a concern that municipal budgets, and in particular, public school budgets, were being allocated before the municipalities could determine their tax bases. Under the new program, the tax appeals are decided first, and then the towns can formulate their budgets. If the program is successful, we expect that more counties in New Jersey will adopt it. In addition to changes in the Tax Appeal calendar, Monmouth County has also introduced a “rolling revaluation” process, in which assessors may conduct revaluations of properties each year. This process will minimize the application of equalization ratios and may eliminate the use of the Freeze Act.
In many Monmouth County municipalities, like Allenhurst, Avon By-The-Sea, Bradley Beach, Colts Neck, Deal, Fair Haven, Freehold, Holmdel, Loch Arbour, Manalapan, Marlboro, Middletown, Monmouth Beach, Rumson, Sea Bright, Spring Lake and Wall Township, assessments on homes may easily exceed one million dollars. Very often, the assessments exceed the property values, and our firm has had tremendous success in reducing those assessments.