A Day in the Life of Michael Bell, Director of Client Relations

A Day in the Life of Michael Bell, Director of Client Relations

There are people that provide a great customer experience, and then there are those who provide exceptional experiences. However, very few compare to Michael Bell. If you are an L&B client, chances are you know the hard-working, always on top of things, tech-savvy, Charleston Apartment Association Supplier of the Year recipient. Currently a CAA Board of Director Nominee, we will take a look into a “Day in the Life” of Michael Bell.

How long have you worked at Loebsack & Brownlee, PLLC? 

I’ve been with the Firm since day 1.

How do you start your day? 

By brewing some fresh Kauai Coffee. (yum!)

What do you do before you come to work?

Not much; sometimes, when I’m being good, I go to the gym first, but usually, I go in the evening instead.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Most days start responding to client emails and help tickets submitted through the website overnight or after hours. Many clients work late into the evenings now, so when we get in, we’re playing catch-up from the start.  About 70% of the day is spent responding to emails, updating client records, answering phone calls, and supporting the attorneys with whatever they need to be tackled.  These emails are typically more of a training or troubleshooting nature, but sometimes also answering questions about how we do things and why we do them. The other part of the day is spent putting out fires, resolving issues, providing new client consultation or webinar training, or troubleshooting and training our own staff on processes and procedures.

What is something you wish people knew about you?

I’m a pretty open book. I think most clients who want to know me, already know everything I’m apt to share.

To learn more about Michael Bell, Director of Client Relations, click here: https://loebsackbrownlee.com/our-team/#michael-bell-cas

 

 

 

D&I and Employee Retention

D&I and Employee Retention

The nation is going through a major shift.

 

 

   A shocking report published by Forbes estimates that turnover is costing U.S companies a whopping $160 Billion a year and in September of 2018, 3.6 million Americans quit their jobs voluntarily. However, in the multifamily industry employee turnover is much worse. The annual turnover rate in the multifamily industry stands at 33% which is higher than the national average of 22%. Combine that with Property Managers entering the retirement age, the industry is in for a major talent crunch. Why is this happening?  

Some HR experts say that managers are assumptive in what makes their employees happy, stating that they feel their employees want benefits like a 401/K, company-paid perks (car, phone, or gym membership), and room to grow within the organization. While this is true, surveys find that benefits and long-term perks may attract employees to your organization, but it doesn’t encourage them to stay at your organization. So what does?

Belonging generates engagement. Recruiting and staffing firm The Dreamer Group says “Shockingly, a recent global study of engagement by the ADP Research Institute spanning 19 countries found that only 16% of employees worldwide consider themselves to be fully engaged–which means that a whopping 84% are not currently working at full potential. In the U.S. specifically, employee engagement sits at 17%.” And while many have heard the business case for why your organization should have a DEI strategy, and employers are attempting to make the shift towards creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce particularly after the death of George Floyd, a consistent problem arises. Many don’t know where to start in the creation of a D&I strategy in addition to implementing an important component of D&I, a sense of belonging.

First, what is diversity?

“Diversity is the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations.” What does this mean exactly? Diversity moves beyond “inviting people to the table dance”. It involves the understanding that there are four types of diversity. With this understanding, you know the strategy you need to create, how to execute the strategy, and whom you need to partner with for the continued execution of said strategy. In this blog, we are going to focus on internal and organizational diversity. 

How does an organization or an individual use internal and organizational diversity to fabricate a diverse and inclusive organization?

First, you must acknowledge that no member of any internal diversity strategy is a monolith. Meaning no two white women are the same, not all disabled persons have visible disabilities, and so on. Second, training yourself and leaders on topics such as bias and empathy can provide you with perspective. Lastly, hire a consulting firm to create a survey to recognize the gaps in your organization, then ask current members of your organization to anonymously provide feedback. These are vital steps to creating a diverse and inclusive environment, and to be effective leaders must be willing to be receptive to feedback. 

Remember this, Internal diversity feeds into and can fuel organizational diversity. You can have mostly male executives (Gender Identity, and Seniority) and lack Hispanic/Latino(a/x) Mid-Level Executives. These gaps can cause major disruption in your organization such as high turnover, low-profit margins, and potentially a toxic work environment. 

Truth is…

Many will not recognize how the lack of diversity and inclusion impacts their business, despite the evidence. Not to mention, D&I strategies take months if not years to show a return on investment. However, we can no longer afford to look at D&I from a perspective of profits, a lack of belonging is a mental health issue.

In a case study involving over 800 workplaces by Jonathan S. Leonard and David L. Levine, professors at Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, CA, found “no consistent evidence that diversity itself increases turnover. In contrast, isolation from co-workers and from customers is often associated with higher turnover.”

There is a popular saying “Birds of a feather flock together.” This theory is based on similarity-attraction. Meaning, the more employees can connect and see themselves among leaders in the organization the more likely they are to stay. Having an organization that lacks diversity feels and is isolating. Imagine you are the only Asian Woman in your organization, you will probably feel pressured to conform to those around you and attempt to change who you are which is mentally and emotionally exhausting. This type of behavioral adaptation is called “code-switching.” It’s like wearing a metaphorical mask, disguising oneself for the sake of acceptance, or participating in organizational conformity. This can lead to what we know to be called “burnout” and emotional exhaustion. This is what they call “facades of conformity.”

As leaders, you have a choice. Create a diverse and inclusive workplace, not for the potential profit gains, but because you want your employees to stay, and your employees want to stay because they feel “seen.” They have a sense of belonging. This creates a better human experience within your organization. No one wants to feel isolated, burned out, or unvalued. Even when you are the only one in your organization “asked to dance”, that inclusive attempt without training, can feel performative, and inauthentic. 

To learn more about how to create a D&I strategy to increase employee retention register for this class taught by the author, L&B Manager of Digital Media, Liz Newkirk. Hosted by the Upper State Apartment Association.

About the author

Liz is the Co-Chair of the GCAA DEI Committee, and Chair of the Education Subcommittee on the Triangle Apartment Association DEI Taskforce. She has multiple certifications including DEI, Organizational Culture, and Ethical and Inclusive Leadership.

 

 

 

 

#LBAgainstDV

#LBAgainstDV

 

This is our why…

Loebsack & Brownlee, PLLC have been in close proximity to situations just like these. According to statistics, every team member of our Firm either has personally encountered a domestic violence situation or knows/knew someone who has been a victim.

We hope that our campaign will encourage people to stand up and speak out, to seek refuge and resources, and to help their friends, colleagues, and family members in the crosshairs of domestic violence.

For this year’s campaign, we have chosen to lend our voices, efforts, and funds to our friends and partners at Safe Harbor, and Safe Alliance because of their grand mission, but also because of their current and tremendous need for a new shelter to help them, help others especially during the pandemic.

We hope you will join us in raising awareness and much-needed funds so that Safe Harbor and Safe Alliance can increase that number until all those who need their help will have a space to receive it.

How you can help:

Purchase an L&B T-shirt, brandana, or button.
LB Against DV Tshirt

Click the link in our Instagram Bio

Then on Friday, for the month of October, tag us on Facebook, or Instagram using

the hashtags #LBAgainstDV, and #OnFridaysWeWearPurple. The proceeds from your purchase go to Safe Harbor and Safe Alliance.

Attend an event:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Supreme Court Lifts the Federal Eviction Moratorium

The Supreme Court Lifts the Federal Eviction Moratorium

Thursday evening, the Supreme Court issued an Opinion that blocked the Biden administration’s recently reissued CDC Order, which had protected eligible tenants from actual eviction from their rental homes. “If a federally imposed eviction moratorium is to continue, Congress must specifically authorize it,” the court wrote in an unsigned, eight-page opinion.

In the unsigned eight-page majority opinion the Supreme Court stated the CDC, in barring evictions, relied on “a decades-old statute that authorizes it to implement measures like fumigation and pest extermination” and “strains credulity to believe that this statue grants the CDC the sweeping authority that asserts”

What does this mean?

This means that starting on Aug. 27th, evictions will no longer be “halted” by CDC Declarations. Cases that are in process anywhere in the nation can now proceed all the way to a conclusion, when necessary, up to and including lock-out/set-out. A couple of important additional items, however, are worth raising for you as reminders: 

  1. the CARES Act is still the law today and was not impacted by the Supreme Court’s decision. So, “Covered Properties” should still expect to send 30-day notices to tenants prior to filing cases for ‘non-payment of rent’, as those NTVs will likely remain required into the foreseeable future; and 
  2. ALL landlords remain subject to the terms and conditions agreed to as part of rental assistance programs they take part in. We encourage our clients to ALWAYS provide us with copies of all written rental assistance program documentation with any new case submissions, so we can review them and advise of any issues raised by those Agreements.

See below for “Covered Property Guidelines” 

What does this mean if you are a “Covered Property?”

(i.e. one with a ‘federally backed’ mortgage. Scroll below to learn more about covered properties)

It means that Sec. 4024(c) of the CARES Act will continue to require a 30 Day Notice to Vacate be sent to any resident who is behind in their payment of rent before you can submit an eviction case to the Court (NOTE: the 30-day NTV is not required to file for ‘other’ breach of lease cases, only non-payment ones.)

Going forward:
  • You should not change your practice of providing a 30-day NTV to each non-paying tenant unless: (a) your Property’s mortgage loan type changes (due to a sale or a re-finance of the loan, in which case let us know via the Contact Us form at the bottom of this page); or (b) HUD or some other Federal authority confirms that this 30 Day Notice to Vacate requirement has come to an end or is no longer applicable.

To learn more about the CARES Act, click here: https://loebsackbrownlee.com/cares-act/ 

To learn more regarding these recent updates, please check your email, or click here to sign in to the client portal. Contact us for any additional questions. https://loebsackbrownlee.com/contact-us/

 

 

Recent updates regarding the CDC Eviction Moratorium and more.

Recent updates regarding the CDC Eviction Moratorium and more.

First, the Supreme Court Ruling.

 

Late yesterday, a divided US Supreme Court ruled that it would NOT alter the ruling of the DC Circuit Court that allows the CDC Order providing a “Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions” to remain in effect while the legal case challenging it is being appealed. The ruling includes language from a majority of the Justices, however, that the CDC exceeded its authority in issuing the Order. That means that if the CDC tried to “go back on its word” that the extension through July 31st would be the last extension, specific approval from Congress would be required.

The NC Council of State Vote.

News broke that the NC Council of State voted NOT to authorize the Governor to extend his Executive Order #171  “Assisting North Carolinians at Risk of Eviction.” The Governor has indicated that he will not override the Council’s decision and issue his own further extension, so today is the last day the Order (which had been extended several times since its issuance) will remain in effect.

What does this mean for our NC Clients?

  • The NC HOPE Program protections will end today, June 30, 2021.
  • The deadline to notify the Court of receipt of a CDC Declaration will no longer be the rule.
  • There is no longer an obligation to provide a blank CDC Declaration form.

 

To learn more regarding these recent updates, please check your email, or click here to sign in to the client portal. Contact us for any additional questions. https://loebsackbrownlee.com/contact-us/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disparate Impact, Algorithmic Bias and Fair Housing.

In the multifamily industry, we have all received an ample amount of Fair Housing Training. We have secret shops and surveys. Apartment associations even provide in-person and virtual training at training centers, like the ones we’ve provided across the Carolinas to train every management team member on Fair Housing and how ignoring its precepts can impact us all. But what if a Fair Housing violation slipped under the radar? What if you didn’t know it even existed? How could you plan for it or prepare your staff? You can’t. Managing Principal and Founder Chris Loebsack sat down with Manager of Digital Media Liz Newkirk to discuss disparate impact, algorithms, and their impact on providing Fair Housing. Visit our YouTube to listen in on the full discussion. 

 

What is Disparate Impact?

According to NationalFairHousingOrg. Disparate Impact is a legal doctrine under the Fair Housing Act which states that a policy may be considered discriminatory if it has a disproportionate “adverse impact” against any group based on the seven protected classes when there is no legitimate, non-discriminatory business need for the policy.

What are some examples of Disparate Impact in housing?

  • Only allowing people who are able to prove they work a full-time job to apply. This discriminates against people with disabilities and veterans who may not be able to work full-time but can afford the apartment.
  • Rejecting tenants on the basis of criminal history, particularly without explanation.
  • Zoning restrictions that eliminate affordable housing in a certain area.

Often the third-party software and market data that we use can assist us in creating policies or help adopt practices like the ones mentioned above that disproportionately impact marginalized groups – the BIPOC community and those in the seven protected classes. Take accepting a tenant based on criminal history, for an example. We know that the BIPOC community is convicted at a higher rate than the majority, and while landlords have the responsibility to keep tenants safe, having a blanket rejection based on criminal history has a direct effect on the BIPOC community and inclusive housing. The opportunity to live on your property and provide a safe community for them and/or their families are removed.

In October of 2020, HUD implemented a new rule which added to this already complex situation, moving the burden of proof to the plaintiff in disparate impact cases. Under this new rule, the plaintiff(s)  “are required to show significant evidence in order for their claim to be sustained. The evidence includes proof that the policy in question is both arbitrary and unnecessary for doing business.” This new rule provides a level of complexity that we do not advise you to navigate by yourself. We advise you to seek legal counsel and we encourage you to use this as an opportunity to reach out to your Employee Resource Group or DE&I team to ensure that the policies you create do not disproportionately impact marginalized communities.

How can your ERG (Employee Resource Group) or DE&I council help?

Two heads are better than one, and three heads are better than two. Those heads are even better than they come from different backgrounds, religions, abilities, incomes, and perspectives. When you use your ERG or DE&I councils, you can potentially avoid discriminatory practices making their way into your policies and procedures for your property. However, they can’t do all the heavy lifting. Cultural, unconscious and implicit bias training are great ways to educate teams on the property and in the C-suite. This can also help you avoid legal ramifications altogether. They can test biased technology, collect data, and examine change over time. Studies show that Executive leadership teams are 21% more likely to be profitable and 27% better at creating value when implementing this type of training, according to McKinsey & Company.

We hope that this blog and Q&A help you understand the complexities of disparate impact, and hopefully encourage you to get started with the creation of incorporating DE&I practices into your organization.