Message from the President: Our Commitment to Continuing Education and Professional Development

Posted on Friday August 26, 2016 |

By Dan Wurtzel

At FirstService Residential, continuing education is an essential ingredient that arms our property managers with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively respond to the numerous challenges and complex demands of managing multifamily properties in New York City.

Our associates have access to a robust library of eLearning resources through FirstClass, our school of professional development. The program offers online courses, audio books, videos, and live, instructor-led webinars designed to help our team members advance their skills, improve their service delivery and achieve their personal career goals.
 
To ensure that our managers are well-informed on the latest industry developments, FirstService Residential also regularly hosts seminars and educational programs during which industry leaders share their knowledge on timely topics. Due to the number of managers we employ, these experts know they will be addressing a large, attentive audience. That’s why we are able to attract key industry leaders to address our teams directly. Recent seminars have covered: 
 
Amnesty for Violations: Attorney Tim Mitchell addressed Local Law 45 of 2016 which established a temporary program to settle outstanding Environmental Control Board (ECB) judgments issued by the Department of Buildings (DOB). Mitchell covered requirements for amnesty, consequences for failure to correct outstanding judgments, and violations the program does not cover, such as DOB civil penalties for boiler and elevator inspections and criminal/civil court judgments. The program runs from Sept. 12 through Dec. 12, 2016.
 
Human Rights Law: Ted Finkelstein from the NYC Commission on Human Rights addressed laws that protect the rights of disabled individuals—such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Federal Fair Housing Act. Finkelstein discussed how these laws specifically apply to multifamily properties in New York City including the owner’s responsibility for making modifications to accommodate such individuals.
 
Labor Relations: Attorney Robert S. Schwartz from the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations (RAB) spoke about matters related to staff whose employment is governed by the 2014 Apartment Building Agreement between the RAB and SEIU Local 32BJ. Topics included differences in wages and benefits for vacation relief employees, the Family and Medical Leave Act, reduction in force actions, best practices for progressive (corrective) discipline, exemptions from transit benefit laws, and 421(a) prevailing wage rate issues. 
 
Quality of Life: Attorney Aaron Shmulewitz from Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman covered the effective use of warning letters for resolving common neighbor disputes regarding noise, odors and other quality of life issues, challenges to enforcing house rules, breach of warranty of habitability, when to involve the building’s attorney and when to litigate. He also covered the importance of making a good faith effort to bring the issue to resolution, including when to engage an odor migration expert or acoustical engineer to investigate.
 
Energy Efficiency: Luke Surowiec, LEED AP, from the NYC Retrofit Accelerator Program spoke about the city's new program that provides owners and operators access to a team of building experts who can provide independent, customized technical assistance and advisory services—at no cost—to increase the value and sustainability of their properties through energy and water efficiency upgrades. You can learn more at www.nyc.gov/retrofitaccelerator.
 
Zero Waste: Jessica Schreiber from the NYC Bureau of Recycling and Sustainability spoke about the city’s e-cycleNYC, re-fashioNYC, and organics collection programs. 
 
Continuing Education for Building Personnel
 
We also know it’s equally important for your building personnel to have a thorough understanding of your property’s equipment and systems. Benefits include enhancements to safety, efficiency, system operations, and resident comfort, as well as a reduction in maintenance costs and fewer service disruptions.
 
In addition to our recent Steam Heat Distribution seminar (see page one), we recently invited all superintendents and resident managers to attend one of six certified Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training sessions. Led by a loss prevention specialist, the training broadened attendees’ knowledge of workplace safety and the recognition, avoidance, and prevention of health hazards in their buildings. 
 
In October, we have arranged for the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Division to conduct a seminar for our managers and building staff on preparing for terrorist attacks, active shooters and other threats.
 
Continuing education is part of our commitment to making a difference, every day, for you and your residents.
 

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