Frequently Asked Questions

Check out some answers to our most common questions. Something you can’t find here?

Contact Us at any time.

Services

Unlimited Tenant and Owner Communication

24/7 Access to Secure Owner Portal

BASIC Maintenance Package

Detailed Monthly Financial Statements

Utility Bill Breakdown/Tenant Billing

Maintenance Troubleshooting Messaging for Tenant Issues

Lease Tracking and Renewal Notifications

Rent Collection from Tenants by eCheck, Credit/Debit Card, or Cash

Tenant Rent Payment Reporting to Experian Rentbureau Daily

Delinquency Notices

Rental License Tracking and Renewal for Owners

Property Lead Test Expiration Tracking

Security Deposit Escrow Account Management

100% Free ACH Transfers for Owner Funds

  1. Attractive Listing Advertisement. In order to find good tenants, you have to get them interested in the property. This starts with engaging marketing of the rental unit.
  2. Attentive Professional Communication. Good tenants expect a professional and reliable property manager. We will communicate effectively and often to answer any preliminary questions of interested applicants to retain the highest quality leads.
  3. Low Application Fees. We have some of the most competitive application fees of any major management company in the area ($40). We keep these costs low in order to drive in quality applicants and increase selectivity on your behalf.
  4. Nationwide Eviction History Check. We conduct a nation-wide search of eviction history to ensure the prospective tenant does not have a history of eviction or similar civil action.
  5. Income Verification. We require written documentation demonstrating appropriate income levels depending on the rent price of the unit. This comes in the form of pay stubs, tax filings, or similar.
  6. Credit Report. We use a trusted third party system to handle soft credit checks of our applicants. This credit inquiry does not affect their score and comes complete with open accounts and any delinquencies.
  7. Rental History Report. We review a nationwide Experian Rental Report to review any reported rental payments, positive or negative, for the prospect.
  8. Criminal History Report. We review detailed reports and descriptions of any prior criminal convictions.
  9. Reference Verification. We are able to reach out to past landlords, employers, or professional references to verify information provided by the applicant and assess his/her character and ability to meet rental obligations.
  10. Assessment Standards. We use all this verified information to evaluate the prospect against our strict but competitive application criteria.
  11. Deposit Collection. We collect up front payment of 3x the Monthly Rent from the tenant before key transfer. This is an important screening measure that helps ensure a prospect is responsible, financially stable, and is able to save and plan ahead.

We are a full service management firm. We can handle everything for your Philadelphia rental properties from start to finish. The only thing we ask of owners is to e-sign lease agreements and provide us with the information needed to handle the rest. We are built to handle all management so property owners can scale. We have owner clients that speak with us once per year and let us handle the rest.

  • Rentometer pricing report & price determination
  • Quality wide-lens individually edited photographs
  • HD Video Tour uploaded to YouTube
  • Drafting of professional/engaging listing description
  • Listing postage to 25+ of the most popular listing sites to include Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, Apartments.com, Zumper, and more
  • UNLIMITED prospect-led showings and communication with potential tenants
  • Owner notification of scheduled showings & weekly reports on listing performance
  • Screening of all applicants to include nationwide criminal, rental, credit check
  • Personalized lease drafting and electronic signatures
  • Required legal disclosures and notices to tenants
  • Collecting and holding security deposit in accordance with local law
  • Move-in Checklist setup
  • Coordination of utility service transfer
  • Move-in day coordination of key transfer

For vacant units- in most situations we will allow self-showings for pre-screened prospects to view the unit at a scheduled time of their choosing. They will receive an electronic remote access code linked to their photo-ID during their scheduled self-show time so they can view the unit at their leisure. This flexibility in scheduling helps to expose the property to the greatest possible number of qualified applicants, especially those who work long hours and need to schedule showings before/after work or on holidays.

For occupied units- we normally conduct ‘cluster’ showings in-person. We will schedule a handful of prospects to view the unit during the same time slot accompanied by a Otter Property Management representative or a current occupant. Agent showings like this are subject to an additional $195 fee.

In 2022 our median days-on-market was 15 days. This means 50% of our available rentals lease in less than 15 days of advertising, and 50% take longer than this. Clients who want to list their property higher than market and expect high-quality tenants may face higher vacancy rates. We ALWAYS aim to minimize vacancy with signed leases in place BEFORE current tenants move out.

Yes, but not necessarily immediately. In most situations, we simply address minor repair issues quickly and efficiently on your behalf. For more major or less time-sensitive issues we’ll reach out for your guidance. We publish >1000 recent maintenance ticket descriptions and the total cost to owner. Ask our team for this data if you’re interested in learning more about typical maintenance costs.

Owners receive detailed maintenance reports every month with notes and photos/videos of the repair if applicable. Remember: we will never perform non-emergency repairs above your maintenance threshold ($500) without contacting you first.

We are happy to conduct regular wellness inspections for your property- but they are not included in the Management Fee. They are charged a la carte and include photos and a writeup of any issues. You can request these with any frequency of your choosing. See our Pricing page for what you can expect to pay

We are Modern, Transparent, and Human.

We use technology from start to finish. We are completely paperless from the move-in checklist through returning the security deposit. We report tenant rent payments every 24 hours to Experian Rentbureau where this data is incorporated into their Experian credit reports. We are faster, lighter, more organized, and more adaptive to change than our competition.

We are transparent at every step of the way. Owners have access to detailed reports on financials, maintenance issues, tenant leases, and photos of their property. Tenants know what they’re signing up for to include the condition of their apartment, to their responsibilities with rent, through the handling of their security deposit. We respond to emails. If we say we will do something- it’s done.

We are human beings. We don’t automatically initiate evictions after 6 days of late rent. We work with tenants and owners to establish expectations to include when to show flexibility and when to draw a line in the sand. We protect owners’ cash flow and investment while respecting the dignity of tenants.

Yes. Experian RentBureau receives our updated rental payment data every 24 hours. This data is reported to Experian RentBureau and incorporated into tenants’ Experian credit report.

This provides tenants a valuable opportunity to build credit and greatly incentivizes tenants to make timely payments.

Here’s a link to a map of our service area

We currently service almost all of Philadelphia County as well as properties in Delaware County within a 35 min drive of our office at 17th and Ridge. We do NOT manage in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia or the far northeast (near the airport). Contact Us today to see if we can make an exception for properties outside of this range.

Yes. Our Broker of Record is a Commercial Real Estate attorney. Contact us to learn more.

Our Company

We currently manage about 500 rental units around Philadelphia. We are looking to selectively grow our presence across the Philadelphia area.
Since December 2019. Although Otter Property Management is a newer company, our Operations Manager Kevin is a local real estate attorney, licensed RE Broker, and has over 7 years of property management experience in Philadelphia.
Yes. Fully insured and licensed.

In 2022 our median days-on-market was 15 days. This means 50% of our available rentals lease in less than 15 days of advertising, and 50% take longer than this. Clients who want to list their property higher than market and expect high-quality tenants may face higher vacancy rates. We ALWAYS aim to minimize vacancy with signed leases in place BEFORE current tenants move out.

We are Modern, Transparent, and Human.

We use technology from start to finish. We are completely paperless from the move-in checklist through returning the security deposit. We report tenant rent payments every 24 hours to Experian Rentbureau where this data is incorporated into their Experian credit reports. We are faster, lighter, more organized, and more adaptive to change than our competition.

We are transparent at every step of the way. Owners have access to detailed reports on financials, maintenance issues, tenant leases, and photos of their property. Tenants know what they’re signing up for to include the condition of their apartment, to their responsibilities with rent, through the handling of their security deposit. We respond to emails. If we say we will do something- it’s done.

We are human beings. We don’t automatically initiate evictions after 6 days of late rent. We work with tenants and owners to establish expectations to include when to show flexibility and when to draw a line in the sand. We protect owners’ cash flow and investment while respecting the dignity of tenants.

Here’s a link to a map of our service area

We currently service almost all of Philadelphia County as well as properties in Delaware County within a 35 min drive of our office at 17th and Ridge. We do NOT manage in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia or the far northeast (near the airport). Contact Us today to see if we can make an exception for properties outside of this range.

Yes. We value our reputation and always operate with integrity. We are licensed by the PA Real Estate Commission. You can call our mothers if you need more.

We maintain a physical office at 1728 Ridge Ave Philadelphia, PA 19130. This office is primarily used for a secure drop box for keys & an occasional workspace. If you want to come by- please set up an appointment first as we are almost always working remote at existing properties or meeting new clients

Yes. We our company leadership is comprised of licensed real estate professionals and lawyers. Our company is licensed to do business in Philadelphia.
Yes. Compliance is our specialty. We are licensed real estate brokers, salesperson and lawyers. We know the ins and outs of Philadelphia landlord/tenant law.

Working with Tenants

  1. Attractive Listing Advertisement. In order to find good tenants, you have to get them interested in the property. This starts with engaging marketing of the rental unit.
  2. Attentive Professional Communication. Good tenants expect a professional and reliable property manager. We will communicate effectively and often to answer any preliminary questions of interested applicants to retain the highest quality leads.
  3. Low Application Fees. We have some of the most competitive application fees of any major management company in the area ($40). We keep these costs low in order to drive in quality applicants and increase selectivity on your behalf.
  4. Nationwide Eviction History Check. We conduct a nation-wide search of eviction history to ensure the prospective tenant does not have a history of eviction or similar civil action.
  5. Income Verification. We require written documentation demonstrating appropriate income levels depending on the rent price of the unit. This comes in the form of pay stubs, tax filings, or similar.
  6. Credit Report. We use a trusted third party system to handle soft credit checks of our applicants. This credit inquiry does not affect their score and comes complete with open accounts and any delinquencies.
  7. Rental History Report. We review a nationwide Experian Rental Report to review any reported rental payments, positive or negative, for the prospect.
  8. Criminal History Report. We review detailed reports and descriptions of any prior criminal convictions.
  9. Reference Verification. We are able to reach out to past landlords, employers, or professional references to verify information provided by the applicant and assess his/her character and ability to meet rental obligations.
  10. Assessment Standards. We use all this verified information to evaluate the prospect against our strict but competitive application criteria.
  11. Deposit Collection. We collect up front payment of 3x the Monthly Rent from the tenant before key transfer. This is an important screening measure that helps ensure a prospect is responsible, financially stable, and is able to save and plan ahead.

For vacant units- in most situations we will allow self-showings for pre-screened prospects to view the unit at a scheduled time of their choosing. They will receive an electronic remote access code linked to their photo-ID during their scheduled self-show time so they can view the unit at their leisure. This flexibility in scheduling helps to expose the property to the greatest possible number of qualified applicants, especially those who work long hours and need to schedule showings before/after work or on holidays.

For occupied units- we normally conduct ‘cluster’ showings in-person. We will schedule a handful of prospects to view the unit during the same time slot accompanied by a Otter Property Management representative or a current occupant. Agent showings like this are subject to an additional $195 fee.

We are happy to conduct regular wellness inspections for your property- but they are not included in the Management Fee. They are charged a la carte and include photos and a writeup of any issues. You can request these with any frequency of your choosing. See our Pricing page for what you can expect to pay

For tenants we place- we require tenants carry $100,000 of Liability to Landlord insurance to protect property owners in the event of tenant-caused loss to owner property. This provides an extra (and primary) layer of protection over the owner’s property insurance.

Generally no- for a few reasons;

  1. Fair Housing Laws– owners pay us to be experts in national, state, and local laws governing the housing process. We are familiar with criteria we can, and cannot, use to evaluate an applicant. Most owners are not fully familiar with these rules and they expose all parties to liability if they become involved and either intentionally or unintentionally discriminate based on protected criteria.
  2. FCRA– when we run a background check on tenants, we have obligations relating to their personal data. We are subject to rules about who is permitted to see the information, how it is stored, and how it is used. If owners handle this data they are opening all parties to liability and potentially steep penalties if it’s misused.
  3. Expediency– in many cases, rental applicants are exploring multiple different possibilities for housing. If we can’t be quick with our evaluations and communication with tenants we can miss out on great tenants who will apply and accept offers for competing rentals. We need to be able to process applicants without waiting on owner approval to be most competitive and return value for your properties.
  4. Trust– when owners sign a Management Services Agreement with Otter Property Management they are taking a significant leap of faith in entrusting our team with a major investment. Owners perform due diligence on our company, team, performance, and values before deciding to hand over their assets to our care. They trust our ability to balance risk, and the fact that we would never recommend a tenant we wouldn’t place if we owned the property ourselves.

that being said- owners do have final approval for signing a lease. It’s your property. If you don’t want to sign a lease you don’t have to do so. Please be aware that our Leasing Fee is due when we find a suitable tenant and collect a deposit, regardless of owner approval

We are Modern, Transparent, and Human.

We use technology from start to finish. We are completely paperless from the move-in checklist through returning the security deposit. We report tenant rent payments every 24 hours to Experian Rentbureau where this data is incorporated into their Experian credit reports. We are faster, lighter, more organized, and more adaptive to change than our competition.

We are transparent at every step of the way. Owners have access to detailed reports on financials, maintenance issues, tenant leases, and photos of their property. Tenants know what they’re signing up for to include the condition of their apartment, to their responsibilities with rent, through the handling of their security deposit. We respond to emails. If we say we will do something- it’s done.

We are human beings. We don’t automatically initiate evictions after 6 days of late rent. We work with tenants and owners to establish expectations to include when to show flexibility and when to draw a line in the sand. We protect owners’ cash flow and investment while respecting the dignity of tenants.

Yes. Experian RentBureau receives our updated rental payment data every 24 hours. This data is reported to Experian RentBureau and incorporated into tenants’ Experian credit report.

This provides tenants a valuable opportunity to build credit and greatly incentivizes tenants to make timely payments.

Evictions are a worst-case scenario approach to a tenant breach. We will do our best to resolve issues before they arise to the level of evictions. We will send multiple notices/reminders to tenants and explain the serious and permanent implications of an eviction on their record. A large majority of the time- we can resolve the issue without involving the courts. In the rare case that we would have to evict- we offer owners a few options to navigate the legal process.

Our form lease charges a $75 flat fee after the 5th day of the month.

Security deposits, by law, are the property of the tenant. We store the tenant’s money securely in an escrow account and return the deposit to the tenant within 30 days of vacating the unit unless the tenant has violated the lease agreement or damaged the unit beyond ordinary wear and tear. In such a case- we will take photographs and other evidence to provide to tenant to explain, in detail, any deduction from their deposit.

Pricing

Clients ‘unlock’ lower management fees as their Portfolio Market Rent increases.

Portfolio Market Rent“= Total estimated monthly market rent of all properties under a single client.

$1,000-$2,000: 9% Management Fee

$2,000-$10,000: 8% Management Fee

$10,000-$20,000: 7% Management Fee

$20,000-$40,000: 6% Management Fee

$40,000+: 5% Management Fee

Unlimited Tenant and Owner Communication

24/7 Access to Secure Owner Portal

BASIC Maintenance Package

Detailed Monthly Financial Statements

Utility Bill Breakdown/Tenant Billing

Maintenance Troubleshooting Messaging for Tenant Issues

Lease Tracking and Renewal Notifications

Rent Collection from Tenants by eCheck, Credit/Debit Card, or Cash

Tenant Rent Payment Reporting to Experian Rentbureau Daily

Delinquency Notices

Rental License Tracking and Renewal for Owners

Property Lead Test Expiration Tracking

Security Deposit Escrow Account Management

100% Free ACH Transfers for Owner Funds

Yes we require reserves of $200 per property to be kept in property accounts. This helps us pay for costs on your behalf that occur between rent payout and your next month’s rent income. We’ll automatically hold this in your property account for you once the first tenant payment come in.

We disperse all owner funds (minus $200 reserve) on the first business day following the 9th of each month. Owners can expect to have the money in their accounts by the 12th most months. We put rent in owners’ hands faster than most major management companies in Philadelphia. We also do a second dispersal on the first business day after the 19th in the event an owner received any late payments.

We collect 10% of external contractor invoices, or $69 whichever is higher. This covers our expenses in vetting contractors, scheduling, notifying tenants, coordinating secure key transfer, paying invoices, collecting 1099, etc. 

Ex: Electrician contracted to install ceiling fan for $700. We will bill your account $70 for a coordination fee. You’ll see a total bill of $770 on your account for the work.

 NOTE: we have such great relationships with our contractors that you will likely still pay well-below outside rates for these jobs even including the coordination fee!

No

Owner Portal

Yes we require reserves of $200 per property to be kept in property accounts. This helps us pay for costs on your behalf that occur between rent payout and your next month’s rent income. We’ll automatically hold this in your property account for you once the first tenant payment come in.

We disperse all owner funds (minus $200 reserve) on the first business day following the 9th of each month. Owners can expect to have the money in their accounts by the 12th most months. We put rent in owners’ hands faster than most major management companies in Philadelphia. We also do a second dispersal on the first business day after the 19th in the event an owner received any late payments.

Yes, but not necessarily immediately. In most situations, we simply address minor repair issues quickly and efficiently on your behalf. For more major or less time-sensitive issues we’ll reach out for your guidance. We publish >1000 recent maintenance ticket descriptions and the total cost to owner. Ask our team for this data if you’re interested in learning more about typical maintenance costs.

Owners receive detailed maintenance reports every month with notes and photos/videos of the repair if applicable. Remember: we will never perform non-emergency repairs above your maintenance threshold ($500) without contacting you first.

We use Appfolio. Click here to see some more information about Appfolio from the owner’s end.

1-2 Business days. Owner funds are normally received by the 12th of the month.

Management Agreement

Clients ‘unlock’ lower management fees as their Portfolio Market Rent increases.

Portfolio Market Rent“= Total estimated monthly market rent of all properties under a single client.

$1,000-$2,000: 9% Management Fee

$2,000-$10,000: 8% Management Fee

$10,000-$20,000: 7% Management Fee

$20,000-$40,000: 6% Management Fee

$40,000+: 5% Management Fee

We are a full service management firm. We can handle everything for your Philadelphia rental properties from start to finish. The only thing we ask of owners is to e-sign lease agreements and provide us with the information needed to handle the rest. We are built to handle all management so property owners can scale. We have owner clients that speak with us once per year and let us handle the rest.

No (in most cases). Our management agreement can be terminated with 30 days’ notice for ANY reason. We are confident in the quality of our services so we don’t need to lock owners into a long-term commitment. The only exception here is if an owner terminates earlier than the 30 day requirement or terminates while we still have an active listing on market.

Late fees are split 50/50 between owner and Otter Property Management. Our portion covers our expenses in sending letters, notices, and tracking down the fees. The owner’s portion compensates him for the delay in his rent payment.

No.  You are completely free to sell your property as you like. Although we will gladly help or refer you to a listing agent if you desire