One of the ways the high-end management firms support their multifamily clients is to appeal property taxes. At trial, Prime PTN will supply expert witnesses to make the actual case. Magistrate Tax court and Regular Tax Court rules of evidence require a representative from the management company to verify that rent-roll and other documents were produced by the management company. In doing so you are a “witness of fact”. You may be asked very general information about the property and neighborhood. Most of this is basic property information you learned during your first couple of weeks on site as a trainee.
Below is a list of frequently asked questions about testifying as a property manager at a property tax trial:
When do I testify? The documents you enter into evidence will start the trial. You are typically the first witness.
What documents will I be asked about? You will be asked by P-PTN if the documents entered into evidence are produced by your firm. They may include Rent Rolls, property financials, etc. They are the documents supplied by your company to us.
Will I be sworn in and asked questions? Yes. You will be asked to raise your right arm and be sworn in. P-PTN will ask you to confirm that the documents are from your firm, which they will be. We’ll ask very basic questions about the property, condition, etc. The County will then be given a opportunity to question you. The scope of questions they are permitted to ask is narrow.
Will there be “gotcha” questions? Absolutely not. Typically the most difficult questions are along the lines of: “How many 3-bedroom apartments are there in the subject complex?” or: “Is there a grocery store within walking distance?”
What if I don’t know the answer to a question? The most important thing to do while testifying is to tell the truth. If the truth is that you don’t know the answer…or don’t understand the question, say so.
Will I have to sign in? No. Rarely you will be asked to show identification and go through a screening similar to the airport. Do not bring a weapon.
Will there be lots of people in the courtroom? No. These trials are open to the public but in practice there are more people at a large dinner table than in the courtroom.
Can I stay after I testify? Yes. In most cases you will be done by 9:30 am. P-PTN welcomes you to stay…but the decision to observe all or part of the further proceedings should be based on your supervisor’s permission and the needs of your property.
What do I wear? Business dress is appropriate.
I’m still nervous! Don’t be. Before the trial we will review with you the documents that we will be submitting, discuss the process in greater detail, give you detailed information on time, address, etc.
ps: Don’t forget to add: ” Testified on behalf of my property at a trial” to your resume.