When considering retaining the services of a property management expert witness to help your case, it’s important to select someone with the knowledge and experience to interpret the landlord or property manager’s standard of care, and what that means to your case. Today we’ll take a look at 3 critical steps to take when selecting the right property management expert witness.
Step 1: Review Their Expert Witness Qualifications
Before selecting an expert witness for your case, it’s important to confirm that their qualifications align with the nature of your case. One of the best ways for your witness to demonstrate expertise is by holding a professional certification that is relevant to your case. Professional certifications such as Certified Property Manager (CPM) or International Code Council Combination Inspector (ICCCI) are a clear signal to the court that your witness is qualified to testify on your behalf. A witness may be called to offer their expert opinion to the court, and confirm via their testimony that you have met your standard of care as a property manager. This testimony will be all the more relevant if your witness is currently active in the field. An expert witness that is retired or currently inactive may not be up to date on current laws and trends in property management. You should also be wary of retaining an expert who makes their living primarily serving as a witness, and is not active in the field. Without real world experience, a supposed expert can quickly fall out of touch with current standards and practices. Try to select a witness who has the right balance of professional certifications and active experience in the field.
Step 2: Review Their Expert Witness Case History
Now that you’ve narrowed your list of potential expert witnesses to call on, the next step is to review their case history as a witness. Ideally, an expert witness should have provided critical testimony in numerous cases. Their case history should also include cases of a similar nature to yours, to ensure their testimony will be relevant. If their case history and expertise centers around zoning laws, they may be of little help to you in a wrongful eviction case. It’s also important to ask for references from the firms that have used them in the past. They can give you insight into their past testimony and the impact it had on each case. It will also serve you well to learn how far their previous cases have proceeded. A witness who has extensive deposition or trial experience will be more likely to hold up under the intense scrutiny of the courtroom.
Step 3: Ensure There Are No Conflicts of Interest
Finally, take the time to research and confirm that there are no conflicts of interest between your witness and either party. Your witness should be unbiased in the matter, and not have any stake in the outcome of the court’s decision. Your witness should not have any personal connection to either party, or hold any financial stake in the outcome. It may occur that you wish to retain a property management expert witness that has previously been retained by an opposing attorney. This in and of itself is not a deal breaker, but the witness should be transparent with you about the nature of their relationship with the opposition. The judge or jury should have no question that the witness is unbiased in their testimony.
The Bottom Line
Selecting a property management expert witness doesn’t have to be difficult. By following the steps we’ve outlined, you can be confident that your witness will be effective in helping settle the case in your favor. At Edrington and Associates, we draw on our decades of experience as landlords, CPMs, real estate brokers, and building inspectors to offer expert witness testimony to our clients. We are active in real estate matters and have the real world knowledge and experience to back your case in a court of law. Contact us today to learn how we can provide the winning edge to your case.