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Sticker shock: Aurora apartment building value goes up 170%

Landlord: "They're taxing us out of our property."
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Posted at 11:00 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 01:00:55-04

AURORA, Colo. — Property tax valuations are arriving in the mail, and a lot of Coloradans are getting sticker shock.

One Aurora property owner, Matthew King, saw his property value triple in two years. He feels like he's being forced out, but says it's renters who will pay the price.

Even though landlords get a bad rap, King wants to remodel that image one apartment at a time. He's been fixing up an eight-unit apartment building at 9080 E. 16th Ave in North Aurora near Colfax and Yosemite.

"I feel like my renters become family," he said. "This is my retirement. I'd be out on the street if I lost the building."

But crime, such as a recent shooting, makes finding renters difficult, according to King, who only has three of his eight units rented.

LeAndre Hitt is one of the tenants who moved in last summer.

"I feel like the area overall is still a little bit depressed," Hitt said. "But Mathew did a great job with all of the renovations that he's has put into the building."

When the property tax valuation arrived in the mail at the beginning of May, King said "sticker shock" would be putting it mildly. The building's assessed value went from $384,000 to more than $1 million.

"My heart just dropped out of my head," King said. "Just couldn't believe it."

Contact Denver7 started asking questions and found that in May, many property owners across the Denver metro are learning about spikes in their property valuations.

"What's really important for property owners to understand is that they have the ability to appeal their value," said Lisa Frizell, the Douglas County Assessor, when the county assessors announced the increases earlier this month.

In Adams County, where King's building is located, apartment valuations are up on average 11%, but King's building is up 170%.

An Adams County spokesperson called that "atypical" in a statement to Contact Denver7, explaining that the buildings were "undervalued from the last cycle."

While King says he has repeatedly appealed valuations, he feels this time it's a punishment for making improvements.

"They're incentivizing slums," King said. "I want people to know that the property taxes are being totally onerous on the landlords. Everybody says the landlords are making all this money, and they're not. They're not making all this money. They're barely making it... really they're taxing us out of our property."

King is appealing the valuation once again. If he loses, he said he may have to sell the building.

For tenants like Hitt, increased rent looms large at a time when finding an affordable place is almost as hard as finding a decent landlord.

"I just really hate to see my landlord suffer any penalty for doing a great job," Hitt said. "And it took me two months to find this place."

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