Getting a property revalued

Suzanne lives on a big property and thinks the excess land has been overvalued. She is keen to know whether she can challenge the decision.

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Q. Suzanne
My partner and I live on a 2.304-hectare property, 30km north of Kingaroy, and we have lived here for eight years. We are both pensioners, and in 2016 we added to our home to create an apartment that we rent out though booking.com. All of this has been declared to Centrelink. The land is not suitable for farming, has poor soil and we have been in a drought for two years. Recently I received an inheritance after my mother passed and that has changed our Centrelink status from income tested to assets tested.

We discovered in the process of declaring all our assets that the excess land over the 2.2-hectare limit has been valued by Centrelink at $45,000, which is making a severe impact on our pension. A financial adviser at Centrelink explained that the estimated value of the excess land was determined by a property valuer. As we have sought to clarify the situation, no-one seems confident to give us a clear answer, or explain how this tiny, useless strip of land could be valued at $45,000, in an area where you can purchase 2.5 acres (about 1 hectare) for $56,000. Can you offer any insight on the matter?

A. The limit for land that can be included as part of your principal place of residence and exempt from the assets test is actually 2 hectares, not 2.2 hectares. That said, with the information that you have provided it doesn’t seem like Centrelink has provided an accurate valuation of your land. You can ask for a reassessment of the land value at any time. If you disagree with the valuation decision, you have the right to ask for a review. A request for a review is the same as an appeal. If you request a review of a decision, you are expressing your dissatisfaction with the decision and appealing against it.

Your request for review must:

  • be made within three months of receipt of the letter about the decision
  • be in writing (there is no special form)
  • set out your reasons for requesting the review.

If a request for review is made in accordance with these conditions, the decision must be reviewed. The decision of the review officer will be to either affirm (agree with) or set aside (disagree with) the decision under review. The review officer may also ask you for more information.

If you are not happy with a decision of the department concerning your Age Pension, you can also request an authorised review officer to take a fresh look at your case. Authorised review officers are examiners who have had no prior involvement in the case. They look at disputed decisions and may set aside, vary or affirm a decision.

If you are not happy with the authorised review officer’s decision, you can appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review of that decision.

An application to the AAT for a first review of a decision by an authorised review officer can be made at any time after the decision is made. However, it is best to appeal to the AAT within 13 weeks of being notified of the authorised review officer’s decision. This is because back pay may not be payable if a successful application for review is lodged more than 13 weeks after the authorised review officer’s decision.

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Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a Centrelink Financial Information Services officer, financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Written by Ben

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