The Los Angeles Assessor’s Office keeps records of all properties in Los Angeles County for tax collecting purposes. The assessor’s records or “public records” can be used by other government agencies (Like the Building Department), for real estate appraisals, census data, and are available to the public as general information.
Did you know?
The total number of Properties in Los Angeles is approximately 2.5M parcels! These properties had an assessed valued of 1.416 Trillion in 2017. Of those total parcels, 1,870,000 (or ~75%) were single family homes.
How do I Look Up MY assessor information?
You can search any Los Angeles property’s assessor record using this link to the assessor website:
Wait… I just checked, and the assessor data is wrong- What Do I Do?
Well, if you are not selling, refinancing, or building new construction- you probably don’t have to do anything. Even if the assessor data is wrong, it is not affecting you. Most homeowners want to correct their assessor data anyway. Having incorrect assessor information can cause difficulty and delays: getting appraisals, obtaining a new loan or refinancing, lowers your property value, and open sellers to legal liability if they disclose incorrect square footage to buyers.
How is there possible legal liability?
I don’t mean to scare you, but a common reason for lawsuits in Los Angeles these days regarding real estate transactions is square footage. A popular statistic LA buyer’s use is price/sqft. If a seller tells a buyer a property has more square footage than it does, the seller might be liable for damages because they provided false information.
As a real estate agent, I always advise my Sellers to use square footage from the public records for your listings. This protects sellers from buyers claiming to be misled. But if the public records are wrong, and they significantly understate the size, unit count, bedroom or bathroom count or other characteristics of your property, it might be tempting to not want to use them.
I think my assessor data is wrong- How do I fix it?
The Data can be wrong for one of two reasons:
1) Clerical Mistake or Date Entry Error.
A clerical error is fairly easy to fix by submitting a Los Angeles Property Data Change Request to the Assessor’s office. The process takes about 30-90 days depending on the time of year, and how aggressively you follow up and is free. Some research is required.
2) Unpermitted Construction.
For unpermitted construction– the assessor records cannot be changed. The only way the assessor records can be changed is to first retroactively permit the construction which is expensive and burdensome.
To figure out which reason the assessor data is wrong requires a little bit of research. The process moves a lot faster if you do the research yourself and provide evidence with your Property Data Change Request.
Let’s get Started!
To change your assessor data I recommend starting by pulling the building permits.
You can search for building permits online on Los Angeles Department of Buildings website:
Or you can order building permits online with the permit report for $60 www.thepermitreport.com
The Building permits will usually have some information about the property size (New Construction Permits, Addition Permits, Certificate of Occupancy), and changes that occurred to the property overtime regarding Bedroom/Bathroom Counts (General Remodeling Permits), Lot Size (Lots ties), unit counts (certificates of occupancy).
When you are making a Property Data Change Request you should include evidence to prove your case. Building Permits are great.
Another helpful resource for condo sqft and lot size questions is the Assessor Parcel Maps. You can ask a real estate agent for them or search from them on the assessor website online:
You might find this explanation of APN numbers helpful.
For Condos, the CCR’s usually have SQFT in them. You can get a copy from the HOA or a real estate agent if you don’t have a copy from when you originally bought them.
Do you have an old appraisal report? The appraiser usually measures SQFT in those reports. You can hire an appraiser or floorplan company to measure your property.
Evidence from multiple sources makes your argument stronger.
I thought my SQFT was larger than my research shows
Some SQFT is not counted by the assessor. Garages, Unfinished basements, Attics, Sheds, Unenclosed balconies or patios, Lofts, and this is the biggest one: unpermitted construction. Sorry! The assessor’s office does not recognize unpermitted construction.
The assessor uses two different conventions for measuring Houses and Condos. The Assessor office measures houses from the outside and condos from the inside. I think because it is just more practical to do so. The space between the walls can make a difference in SQFT.
All Done with research?
I’m Ready to Submit my Property Data Change Request!
I recommend to write a short letter that explains your evidence for the mistake. The Property Data Change form itself is very brief so a letter can give some context. I also recommend to include any supporting evidence you found in your research with your change request. My last tip is to submit the request 2 times, once to the Downtown Assessor Office
Downtown Assessor Office
Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
500 W. Temple Street Room 225
Los Angeles, CA 90012-2770
And your local District Office (Van Nuys, Lancaster, West District Office, South District Office, East District Office, North District Office).
Not sure who your local field office is? Call the assessor office and they can tell you if you give you’re your property address (213) 974-2111
Ok- I’ve submitted what’s the process?
Once you submit your property data change request, it will be assigned to a field supervisor. You can call both the main office and your local field office once or twice a week to check on whether or not your Change Request has been assigned to a field supervisor yet. I can tell you that the assessor gets a lot of change requests- they have a huge stack of them, and if you don’t call you will have to wait until they get to the bottom of the pile to reach yours. If you call frequently it can speed the process up, especially if you have already done your own research.
In reality, these change requests are a fairly low priority, so if it is the busy season, you will have to wait longer as other business will take priority.
If you are requesting a change in SQFT on a house, or to verify building permits, the assessor might send a field appraiser to do a site visit.
How long does it take for Public Records to change?
Sorry to say the assessor moves pretty slow. Once you get the phone call notifying you that your request has been approved it can take up to 6 months for the records to be updated. The assessor’s office, as a policy, does not issue anything in writing, such as a letter or email, that can be used as a proof that the SQFT has changed prior to the system being updated within the next 6 months.
Will correcting my assessor information raise my property tax?
The answer is Yes and No. It depends on whether you did the construction or not. If the construction was done prior to your purchase of the property, then correcting the assessor record will not affect your assessed value (It is included in the original purchase price). If you did the construction work and improved the property during the time you have owned the property- your property tax will be increased. This is not a reassessing event. Only the additional value of the construction will be added to your tax bases.
Example: Property was purchased for $500,000, held 5 years, current market value $650,000, Current assessed value $552,000 and property taxes are 1.25% or $6,900 year. Value of construction added $50,000.
A) What is the assessed value if construction was done prior to purchase? $552,000 – the assessed value stays the same.
B) What is the assessed value if construction was done after purchase? $602,000. The assessed value goes up on the cost of the construction. The difference in annual property tax is $50,000 x 1.25% = $625
C) What if the property was torn down and rebuilt? The new property would be reassessed at time of being built
If your assessed value goes up, you will get a supplemental tax bill for the year.