Friday, July 23, 2010

Governor Crist authorizes interim property assessments as a weapon against BP Oil!

On July 21st, Governor Crist issued Executive Order No. 10-169 which is the seventh consecutive order since the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 21, 2010. Previous orders declared a total of 26 Florida counties as being under a “State of Emergency” as a result of the oil spill.

This latest order authorizes all County Property Appraisers to provide interim assessments of any real property that may have suffered a loss in value as a result of the BP Oil Spill according to the just value of such property.

As you may already be aware, the Property Appraiser’s Office in each of the 67 Florida Counties are required by law to appraise all real property located within their respective county. Each property is to be assessed based upon its respective value as of January 1st of the tax year in question.

The purpose of Governor Crist’s authorization of interim assessments is to document the current year’s property damage claims against British Petroleum (BP). The Governor’s Executive Order encourages Property Appraisers to make these interim assessments available to any affected property owner who can, in turn, use such documentation as a basis for establishing a claim for any sustained loss. Thus, by using an interim assessment as provided by the County Property Appraiser’s Office, many community associations and property owners will be relieved of the burden of having to hire an independent property appraiser for the purpose of establishing a claim against BP.

Of course, the usefulness of the interim assessments will depend greatly upon both the initial and interim assessments by the respective County Property Appraiser’s Office but, at a minimum, the interim assessments will provide a platform from which one can work to build a claim. One of the elements of “economic loss” is the diminution in value of any property measured by the difference between its assessed value on January 1, 2010 (as originally determined by the County Property Appraiser’s Office) and its diminished value set forth in the interim assessment by the County Property Appraiser.

No matter where your association is located or whether you’ve seen any oil spill activity as of yet, every association would be well advised to contact their local County Property Appraiser’s Office to urge the County to construct their respective interim assessments and to request a copy of same upon completion. Here is a link with the contact information for all 67 County Property Appraisers’ Offices:

http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/property/appraisers.html

The Governor’s action this week in issuing this Executive Order and authorizing interim property assessments underscores my previous blogs that all of our Florida communities have sadly already been impacted by the BP Oil Spill in terms of property value, the ability to obtain affordable insurance and the ability to attract willing purchasers and lenders regardless if a tar ball ever hits our shores or not. These interim property appraisals alone may serve as the basis for a diminution in value claim against not only BP but the more than dozen other defendants involved in this disaster as well.

For more information about the steps Florida communities can take to be proactive with regard to their diminished property value, please visit a special website my firm has created at www.floridaspill.com.

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