Do I have to open my house for assessment?

I got a note on my door from the county, saying “Further inspection is required of your property to obtain current assessment information, please set up an apointment…”

Now presumably, this so they can look inside my house to see if I’ve installed a new bathroom or something. I’m not seriously considering not letting them in, but I’m wondering what the law says.(I’m in Minnesota).

Do they need a warrent? Or is it considered “health and safety” (even tho it REALLY is for tax purposes, they could claim they are checking for code violations)

just curious,


I’ve never heard of a tax assessor wanting access inside a house. Assessments are typically made based on simple formulae using the square footage of the house, the number of rooms, certain major amenities (pools, outbuildings), and the location. Except for the last item, these are all determined based on the building plans filed with the locality. Reassessments typically take place only when you pull a new building permit, and then just based on whatever features you may be adding at that time. Ongoing changes to assessments are also, of course, based on the selling prices of other homes in your area.

Based on my experiences here in Florida where my family is in the house rehabbing biz, I’ve never heard of an assessor wanting access to a building (building inspectors, sure, but not assessors). However, a few possible reasons for the request do come to mind:

  1. You’ve made a formal complaint about your assessment (seldom a good idea).
  2. You live in an old building for which the locality has lost or never had proper records.
  3. Someone has reported to the locality that you are doing major home improvements or construction without a building permit.

Hope this is of some use.

My Wife is an appraser for the County (sounds like a country song). In Colorado, they can’t force you to let them look at your house. And at least in my Wifes case, they are just trying to be fair. They will lower your value if they think that’s what should be done. That lowers your taxes. Or they could raise it.

As far as additions, and new bathrooms and stuff goes, that will be found if you pulled a permit for the work.

Sounds a little odd. You might want to call the Assessor’s main number if it’s different from the one on the note, and just verify this procedure.

You can, if you wish, refuse to let the assessor into your house. Or even onto your property.

But the assessor can then decide that your house contains 12 bedrooms, each with attached bathroom containing a jacuzzi whirlpool bath, a full commercial kitchen, etc. and set the assessment accordingly. Since you won’t let them inside to see anything else, they have to make guesses.

Then you can go to your local appeals board to challenge your assessment. But don’t expect much sympathy from them when you say “I refuse to allow you or your assessor onto my property”.

The phone # on the card does match the assessor’s office. I’ll call and find out what’s up.


My town did inside assessments this past year for every single house. It wasn’t any kind of scam. If you didn’t want to make the appointment to let them in, they reassessed based on their previous records or they guessed or whatever.

I have a friend who complains bitterly about his property taxes each year. The assessor’s office shows his house with an attached rear deck, which he doesn’t have. He won’t allow them on his property, so they keep assessing him with a rear deck and he continues to complain. :rolleyes: Just thought I’d relate that.

I’m in Minnesota also and just got the same postcard in my mail this past week.
It said they would be coming around and if no one was home they would leave a door hanger for you to call and set up an appointment. It also said the inspection would take less than 5 minutes.
My house was built in 79’ and I’ve had no additions put on.

Just seems like something going on in MN.

Yes, they need to get inside. Now should I clean or make the house look as bad as possible? (maybe those fake spiderwebs… :wink: )

Actuallly I will tidy up a bit, but nothing extraordinary (i.e consolodate all the paper piles in the office into one big pile…)


They don’t care how messy it is (unless it’s the point of being uninhabitable). They are looking for structural changes or structural damage. They want to make sure that if the current assessment says you have 2 bedrooms, that you really only have 2 bedrooms. Decor or furnishing don’t matter at all.

In Michigan they cannot aribrarily enter your home; however, they do need to assess the value of your house and if they have to guess, they will, and there is no reason to think that their guess will be doing you any favors.

I’m not exactly sure why they’d need to enter your home, provided it is not new. Calling and asking is a good way to find out.

Fun fact: If one ever needs to call some sort of official, being pleasant & polite will garner much better treatment!

Yeah, but in Michigan it doesn’t matter what the new assement is until you sell the house. It’s Constitutionally limited to charging property taxes only for the assessed value at time of transfer plus a small increase each year, -or- at such time as you do major improvements such as additions. I completey gutted and remodelled my previous house with all the proper permits, and it didn’t increase the taxable value.

Keep in mind the tax increase when you buy – it’ll be higher than the previous owner’s taxes!

I’m a township zoning administrator. Prop A does indeed limit the growth in taxable value to that of inflation; however, Michigan Dopers should be advised that it is a transfer of ownership and not a sale that triggers the uncapping.

A change/addition/remodeling that adds value to the property is not bound by this rule. An addition assessed at $20k should raise your taxable value by $10k. Why a complete gutting & remodeling didn’t add to your taxable value is something you’d have to ask your assessor about.

Regardless, it does matter. First it is required by state law—townships, at least, have to have community wide reassessments every few years. It also matters for individuals; e.g., the effects on taxable value from selling or buying a house is a question we frequently get.

Basically it was part of the regular revaluing they do. They have to keep the apraised value of homes within a certain range (The median ratio between estimated value and actual sale value must be between 90-105%)
(That is, they take all the sales in previous year and compare selling price and estimated value. It varied between 50.8 and 112.6%, the median was 88.9%)
It needs to be between 90 and 105%.
To fix this they bumped up everybody.

My estmated value went down, it would have anyway due to general depreciation (it was last assessed 10 years ago).

Questions asked:
Still 2.5 baths? yes
Fireplace? (gas in the basement)
New furnace or A/C? (no)
Deatched garage heated / insulated (insulated with a kerosene heater)
New Roof? The house has the same roof as when I bought it. garage has new roof.
Then he looked in the basement. (he wanted to know if it was REALLY finished, or just paneling, suspended ceiling and cheap carpenting) (more the latter)
Also checked the amp rating on mt e- service.
Ha asked how much I thought the house was worth. I honestly replied I didn’t know.

So pretty painless.