Destruction of Property by Fire: Impact on the Property Assessment Roll in Quebec

June 21, 2018 | Adina Georgescu | Montréal

Canadian Property Tax Association

All property in Quebec must be registered on the municipal property assessment roll, which identifies, among other things, each property’s value.[1]

Quebec property assessment rolls are triennial. Section 174 of the Act Respecting Municipal Taxation (the “ARMT”) lists various circumstances under which a municipal assessor must exceptionally alter the roll during a cycle. This is the case under section 174 (6) of the ARMT, which provides that the roll must be altered “to indicate a decrease in the value of a unit of assessment which results from a fire or the destruction, demolition or disappearance of all or part of an immovable comprised in the unit”.

The Quebec Court of Appeal ruled that the legislator’s intention was to create an immutable roll[2] meaning that the roll cannot be altered except in specific circumstances prescribed by law. Subsequently, courts have applied a restrictive interpretation of section 174, treating it as an exception to this principle of immutability.[3] However, paragraph (6) in particular offers some flexibility. The items it lists have often been deemed non-exhaustive. For example, the Quebec Court has ruled that a gradual contamination of an immovable can lead to an alteration of the roll by an evaluator.[4] This article’s focus is only on the application of 174 (6) of the ARMT in the case of destruction by fire.


An evaluator that has knowledge that a fire caused damage to a property is obliged to carry out a new evaluation. In doing so, he or she may “visit and examine any property situated in the territory of the local municipality […].[5]

It should be noted that some Courts have found that municipalities, following the filing of a fire report, have an obligation to inform evaluators of the fire.[6] This would in turn trigger the evaluator’s duty to alter the roll in conformity with section 175.[7]

Once the property is evaluated following a fire, a Certificate of Alteration must be filed with the clerk of the municipality concerned.[8] The owner of the property will be notified of any alteration made to the roll through a Notice of Alteration, setting out the reasons for such a modification.[9] The modifications made to the roll will apply retroactively to the date of the incident, namely the fire.[10]

Determination of the value

The new assessment of the unit made by the municipal assessor in a case of fire is made on the basis of the actual value of the unit; the “exchange value in the free and open market”.[11] In terms of market conditions taken into account, the date of reference is the date used for the determination of the original roll. This means that modifications to the value of a unit of assessment on the roll do not take into consideration market fluctuations from the time the roll was last established.[12] Similarly, the value of the land will likely remain unchanged, given that it would not be affected by the fire.[13]


In the event an assessor fails to alter the roll after a fire has destroyed all or part of an immovable, an interested person may file an application for an administrative review at any time during the course of the fiscal year in which the fire has occurred or during the following fiscal year.[14]

In the event an assessor does alter the roll, the owner of the property may bring an application for review or an action to quash or set aside the alteration.[15] The application must be filed before the 1st of May (on April 30th, at the latest) following the coming into force of the roll or before the 61st day following the Notice of Alteration.[16]


This article was published in the Canadian Property Tax Association June newsletter

[1] Act Respecting Municipal Taxation, section 76 and 15 [ARMT]

[2] Sears Canada inc. c. Saint-Laurent (Ville), 1996 CanLII 5866 (QC CA)

[3] Sears Canada inc. c. Saint-Laurent (Ville), 1996 CanLII 5866 (QC CA); Marc Perron c Bois-Des-Filion (Ville), 2015 CanLII 87795 (QC TAQ) ; Joly c. Ste-Marthe (Municipalité), 1999 CanLII 7054 (QC CQ) at p 11 ; Samuel Guay- Lafrance c. Saint-Colomban (Ville), 2017 CanLII 45216 (QC TAQ) at para 50 ; 109424 Canada inc. c. Laval (Ville), 2000 CanLII 17268 (QC CQ) at para 9

[4] 109424 Canada inc. c. Laval (Ville), 2000 CanLII 17268 (QC CQ)

[5] ARMT, supra note 1 at s. 15, ss 42, 43, 175

[6] De Sousa c. Montréal (Ville), 1998 CanLII 11557 (QC CS), para. 42

[7] Joly c. Ste-Marthe (Municipalité), 1999 CanLII 7054 (QC CQ)

[8] ARMT, supra note 1 at s. 15, s 179

[9] Ibid, s 189

[10] Morel c. St-Antoine-de-Tilly (Municipalité de), (T.A.Q., 2003-03-27), SOQUIJ AZ-50169585

[11] ARMT, supra note 1, at ss 42, 43, 175

[12] Ibid, s 46

[13] 9160-4850 Quebec Inc. v. Ville de Vaudreuil-Dorion, 2013 QCTAQ 11723 at para 82

[14] ARMT, supra note 1, at s 131.2; Cogespro Richard Lafrance Inc. c Morin-Heights (Municipalité), 2017 CanLII 43719 (QC TAQ) at para 20

[15] ARMT, supra note 1, at s 181

[16] Ibid, s 132