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What Happens at the Allegheny County Board of Viewer (BOV) hearing?

Property assessment

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Once the case is appealed from the BPAR (first level) to the BOV (second level), it normally takes anywhere between 10 months and 2 years for the case to be listed. It is a long wait and almost always means there will be multiple years at issue by the time the case is finally called.

The BOV hearing occurs on the 8th floor of the City County Building as opposed to the BPAR which is on the 3rd floor of the County Office Building. The hearing is DE NOVO, which means whatever happened at the first level (BPAR) is now legally irrelevant. The appeal process starts over and the question is what is the base year value of the property under appeal.

Unlike the first level (BPAR), the BOV hearing is in a courtroom, and often there are attorneys from the county, school and even municipalities. There is always a conciliation process first, where everyone attempts to negotiate a settlement for all years involved.

At the BOV level, proper legal counsel is essential. Unlike the BPAR, non-attorneys are precluded from appearing on behalf of property owners. What this means is that if you hired a representative for the BPAR hearing, make sure you understand if they are allowed to continue through the end of the case, since their efforts may be wasted since the BOV is a new appeal.

The first level (BPAR) hearing is important though, because it determines the properties assessed value for taxation purposes pending the lengthy BOV appeal.

If the parties are unable to resolve the case at a conciliation, then the case goes to an actual trial in front of an appointed hearing master. It is a real trial, with opening arguments, cross-examinations and using the rules of evidence.

It is absolutely essential to have competent legal counsel if you are trying your case at the BOV. The other reality is that you normally will not get the best settlement unless you have counsel and are prepared to go to trial. The taxing entities will often pressure and attempt to scare property owners into unfair settlements if they are unrepresented. Often, we will hear the statements from attorneys for the school state: ” Let’s go to trial then.” This is said in effort to scare property owners into settling. Don’t be bullied by the school districts.

If you have additional questions about the BOV process, email us at info@pghfirm.com or call us: 412.802.6666.

About Noah Paul Fardo

Noah Paul Fardo, Esq. is a Pennsylvania trial lawyer and the managing partner of Flaherty Fardo, LLC. His legal practice focuses in medical malpractice, personal injury, business litigation, and property tax appeals. You can find him on Google+.

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