In July 1976, the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Legion held its annual state convention at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia. About 4,000 members attended. In the days that followed the convention, 221 of the attendees became ill and 34 died from a mystery form of pneumonia. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) immediately began investigating the disease, initially looking at viral causes. By January 1977, they had identified and isolated a bacterial source for the respiratory issues, and later named it Legionella pneumophila. These Legionella bacteria were breeding in the cooling tower of the hotel’s air conditioning system. The air circulated by the system contained small droplets of water that held the bacteria, infecting guests as they breathed in the air at the hotel.
Once the cause of the Philadelphia outbreak was determined, CDC investigators uncovered instances of the disease dating back to 1959. One of the significant outbreaks discovered was at St. Elizabeth’s Psychiatric Hospital in Washington, DC. In 1965, 81 people associated with the hospital came down with pneumonia and 14 patients at the hospital died. The infection was traced to water in a lawn sprinkler system. Specimens of the water were saved and, once Legionnaires’ disease was identified in 1977, the specimens were re-examined and matched the strain that infected the Legionnaires in Philadelphia in 1976.
Of course, the occurrence of this bacteria is not limited to the United States. The single largest outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease happened in Murcia, Spain. Between July 7 and July 22, 2001, over 800 suspected cases were reported, 449 of which were confirmed. The outbreak was linked to the cooling towers at a city hospital.
In 2003-2004, bacteria in a petrochemical plant’s cooling tower resulted in 86 cases of Legionnaires’ disease throughout the community of Pas-de-Calais, France. Various reports state that 18-21 of those who were infected died from the disease, the worst outbreak of Legionnaires’ in French history. After this incident, scientists learned that the airborne bacteria can spread much farther than originally suspected. Also, the outbreak happened in two phases: the first wave of illness happened after the cooling tower was shut down and the second happened during the cleaning of the contaminated tower and after it reopened. It’s believed that the cleaning methods used to decontaminate the tower, using high-pressure cleaning equipment, may have contributed to the second spread of the disease.
Fast forward to the summer of 2019, when guests staying at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel between June 12 and July 15 became ill with Legionnaires’ disease. 13 people, including one who died, were diagnosed with the disease and over 60 “probable cases” were reported, the largest Legionnaires’ disease outbreak ever in the state of Georgia. Health authorities investigated and found Legionella bacteria in the hotel cooling tower, as well as in a decorative fountain in the hotel’s atrium. The hotel closed voluntarily to remove the bacteria and undergo inspections to ensure there was no Legionella risks at the hotel, reopening about a month later.
Since 2000, the number of reported cases of Legionnaire’s disease in the United States has jumped from about 1,000 to nearly 10,000 in 2018. The reported number could be well below the actual number, as the disease may be underdiagnosed. Special testing is required to determine whether a person has Legionnaire’s disease, as opposed to other strains of bacterial pneumonia, and those tests aren’t always conducted or aren’t even available in some countries. Some researchers estimate as many as 70,000 or even 100,000 people in the U.S. get the disease each year.
Similar to Legionnaires’ disease, but not as severe, Pontiac fever is a flu-like illness that’s also associated with Legionella bacteria. In 1968, workers at the county health department Pontiac, Michigan came down with flu symptoms, but not pneumonia. After the discovery of Legionnaires’ disease, blood samples from the Pontiac workers were re-examined and it was determined that their illness had been caused by the same bacteria. Victims of Pontiac fever typically recover in 1-3 days with no treatment. Because it resolves itself, Pontiac fever is never reported or goes undiagnosed, so it’s more widespread than records show.
Today, in light of building closures and slowdowns during COVID-19, the risk of Legionnaire’s disease and Pontiac fever rises. When buildings sit idle, the plumbing and HVAC systems are typically turned off to save money. This results in warm, stagnant water sitting in the systems, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. When workers come back and the systems are turned on, the bacteria can be distributed throughout the building. Even some of the buildings leased by the CDC were found to contain Legionella bacteria in their water sources after being closed for several months during the pandemic. Those buildings are undergoing remediation to ensure the bacteria is removed before workers return.
What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia, or lung infection, with symptoms that include cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, headaches and fever, caused by Legionella pneumophila bacteria. Most healthy people are not affected by the bacteria, but those who are over 50 years old, current and former smokers, people with weakened immune systems and those with chronic disease are at higher risk. Most people recover when hospitalized and treated with antibiotics, but about 10% of those who get the disease die from it.
What is Legionella bacteria and how does it spread?
Legionella bacteria, or Legionella pneumophila, is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. It grows naturally in freshwater environments, but can be found in other common water sources, including cooling towers, showerheads and sink faucets, hot, decorative fountains and water features, hot water tanks and heaters, and large plumbing systems. The cooling towers are part of industrialized air-cooling systems that are used as cost-effective HVAC systems in commercial buildings, including large office buildings, schools, hotels, hospitals and cruise ships. Cooling towers are also used to cool water that’s used in the manufacturing processes of power plants, petroleum refineries, food processing plants and other facilities. Even home humidifiers can become a breeding ground for Legionella bacteria.
The vast majority of cases of Legionnaire’s disease are contracted by breathing air that is contaminated with the bacteria. When water is used in the HVAC or cooling system, the air circulating in the building contains small droplets of water. If the water contains Legionella bacteria, it is inhaled in normal breathing. It is possible, but unlikely, to contract Legionnaires’ disease by accidentally getting water in the lungs while drinking water contaminated with Legionella pneumophila—this occurrence is very rare.
Relative humidity (RH) can help or hurt the transmission of Legionnaire’s disease. In areas with 40%-60% RH, the air’s hydration slows the travel and minimizes the reach of bacteria, which thrives on moisture. When the air carrying the bacteria is dry, the bacteria dies. When humidity levels rise above 60%, the bacteria’s survival rate improves, thereby increasing the risk of infection. The higher relative humidity generally experienced in summer months can lead to summertime outbreaks like those at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel and Sheraton Atlanta Hotel.
How does Legionnaires’ disease compare to today’s COVID-19 coronavirus?
Both Legionnaires’ disease and COVID-19 affect the respiratory system and have the same symptoms, noted above. The primary difference in the two illnesses is that COVID-19 is viral and Legionnaires’ is bacterial. COVID-19 is highly contagious, and is most frequently spread through coughing or sneezing. Legionnaires’ disease is only contracted by breathing or aspirating the Legionella pneumophila bacteria, as detailed above. Generally, Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious, although it is possible in rare cases.
What can be done to prevent Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks?
The key to stopping Legionnaire’s disease is proper disinfection and maintenance of the water systems, HVAC systems, and humidification systems where Legionella pneumophilia bacteria thrive. Buildings that have been closed, in particular, should focus on disinfection and maintenance before workers and customers come back. Some regions have government regulations in place to help reduce the occurrence of legionella bacteria. In the United Kingdom, for example, the government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggests using a dipslide for weekly microbiological monitoring of wet cooling systems and it’s recommended that the systems should be tested for legionella bacteria at least quarterly—more frequently if the system has already had an incidence of legionella bacteria or if it’s a newly commissioned system. In Malta, new cooling towers and evaporative condensers have been prohibited in health care facilities and schools, to try to limit the potential for bacterial issues, and the country requires that cooling towers and water fountains be tested twice each year for Legionella bacteria.
One of the keys to preventing the growth of Legionella pneumophila bacteria in building systems is to limit the growth of the bacteria in potable water. Look at the size of hot water tanks and ensure that they’re properly sized. To minimize Legionella, water held in tanks should be maintained at the proper temperatures: at or below 20°C (68°F) and at or above 60°C (140°F). Inspect plumbing systems and look for places where water can stagnate, such as dead legs. Places that harbor stagnant water should be corrected to help minimize the growth of bacteria. Water in building systems also needs to be monitored and treated continually, to maintain the concentrations of free residual chlorine that minimizes bacteria growth. Usually 1-2 milligrams per liter at the tap will provide the proper level, but each system’s manufacturer’s recommendations should be followed.
Also, make a point to limit growth of Legionella pneumophila bacteria in water-cooled and heat-transfer systems. Systems should be disinfected, then maintained and operated, including treating with the appropriate biocides, in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Look at the placement of cooling towers, ensuring that they’re away from public, building make-up air. Installing drift eliminators on cooling tower can help reduce fugitive water droplets that may host bacteria.
Being mindful of the places where bacteria are likely to grow in building systems is the first start to preventing outbreaks. Check with governmental agencies who have jurisdiction over the area to ensure you’re following any mandatory service and inspection guidelines and consult with the manufacturer of your cooling tower for information specific to your system. Industrial trade organizations are often a good resource for guidance in avoiding the spread of Legionella pneumophilia, too. If it’s not something you want to manage on your own, there are specialized companies dedicated to water system management that focus solely on Legionella pneumophila, who can be contracted for ongoing control services.
As businesses continue to open after being shut down or having their operations slowed by COVID, the risk of Legionella pneumophila affecting facilities is higher. By properly inspecting, disinfecting and managing building systems, you can minimize the occurrence of this dangerous bacteria and reduce the risk of Legionnaire’s disease, Pontiac fever and other illnesses that can result from these harmful water-borne bacteria.
Diversity & Inclusion Succession Initiative (DISI) applications are now open Applications for the IREM DISI program are now open. The program recognizes 10 exceptional leaders from the real estate management industry who are proven leaders at the local l
Jan. 26, 2021
Diversity & Inclusion Succession Initiative (DISI) applications are now open
Applications for theIREM DISI programare now open. The program recognizes 10 exceptional leaders from the real estate management industry who are proven leaders at the local level and who identify with an underrepresented group. DISI Leaders are looking to advance their leadership skills at the national IREM level and to elevate their property management careers with the help of IREM networking and resources. The deadline to apply is February 28, 2021.
The IREM Foundation is a proud sponsor of this program.
Mark Your Calendar! Please join us for these future events!
Dec. 11, 2020
NEED TO KNOW: Property Management and COVID-19
Sep. 14, 2020
September 11, 2020 updates
Call to Action on CDC Executive Order
Last week, the Trump administration announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Order under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act to halt residential evictions through December 31. Without a robust emergency rental assistance program, this moratorium will ultimately harm the very people it aims to help as it will be impossible for housing providers, to meet their financial obligations and continue to provide shelter to their residents.
In response to this announcement, IREM issued aCall to Actionasking for rental assistance for property owners and managers. Members are encouraged to participate in this important initiative.
The order will halt residential evictions if the tenant provides the landlord with an eligibility criteria document indicating their inability to pay full rent among other criteria. This document explains the criteria and can be used by your companies to track eviction holds.
Theorder, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is effective immediately. In response, IREM joined NAR in astatementurging immediate Congressional action on rental assistance. Further, IREMsignedonto a letter with our coalition partners, which include NAR, NAA, NMHC, NAHB, Mortgage Bankers Association, and many others.
Meeting with your legislators
While COVID-19 has made in-person visits more difficult, connecting and meeting with your local, state, or federal representatives is more important than ever. Although most members will be unable to conduct face-to-face meetings, you can still connect virtually with your elected officials to discuss issues important to the real estate management industry.
Why it’s important to meet with elected officials now
How to schedule a meeting (via virtual or in-person)
How to prepare for a virtual or in-person meeting
The IREM team has also developedleave behind materialsto educate the legislator and their staff on issues important to the real estate management industry, like COVID relief, 1031’s and the National Flood Insurance Program.
Please email us at[email protected]once you have scheduled a meeting or if you have any questions.
IREM Community Room
Don’t miss the new conversations happening in theIREM Community Room!Join to meet and connect with fellow real estate management professionals, ask questions, and share your best practices – whether specific to COVID-19 or other business challenges – with your peers from around the world.Sign up todayto join in on the following conversations:
Drew Williams, CAM®, ARM®currently serves as National Operations Manager for CF Real Estate Services in Atlanta, Georgia where he facilitates the successful acquisition and disposition of CF’s ever-evolving and diversified real estate portfolio of 20,000+ units. Be it their CF-owned assets, 3rd-party managed deals or their CampusFirst Student Housing Division, Drew uses his 10+ years of Multifamily Operational Excellence to brainstorm and conceptualize inventive, distinct ways of delivering and executing outcomes powered by innovation and collaboration.
A seasoned Multifamily Professional, Drew is a Trainer, Speaker, Freethinker, Sponge, Leader, and a full-on Nerd for all things Multifamily. Drew fell into what he knew would become a lifelong career with Property Management starting out as a Leasing Consultant & working his way up the ranks. It was when Drew was hand-selected to become a Certified Trainer with one of the nation’s largest Multifamily Housing Providers where he found his “WHY” by working side by side with future Property Management All-Stars. Drew shares the greatest achievement in his career thus far has been being able to take a hands-on approach and front row seat to the observation of his fellow industry peers and colleagues blossom into the stellar business professionals they are today. Drew is impassioned by being an involved member of an industry of people, an industry about people and feels just as passionately in that regard today as he did day-one on the job.
In his personal time, Drew is always reading 5 different books at a time, loves karaoke, writing stand-up comedy, his puppy dog “Rowdy,” spending time in his kitchen and all things travel!
Summer Savings / Scholarship Opportunities / VIRTUAL Meetings / Interactive Asset Track scheduled for July 20- 24
APPLY FOR AN IREM FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIP: CLICK HERE Donations welcome too!
2020 IREM Georgia sponsored Revised Courses - CLICK HERE
Join us as Dr. Debbie shares a hearty dose of essential vitamins for personal success. You can’t give to others what you don’t have yourself. As we navigate these turbulent times, we must focus on the quality of our relationships.
It all starts with self-care. Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think. Mental clarity produces courage. Courageous leaders find ways to inspire teams and overcome obstacles. In less than an hour, you will equip yourself with “multi vites” that ignite action, strengthen your mental muscle and give you the extra gusto to charge ahead.
Nourish Yourself And Your Teams! ZOOMINAR - Dr. Debbie Phillips, CPM With The Quadrillion!
Speakers representing all real estate sectors that continue to "Rock the World"
Please check out upcoming Courses sponsored by IREM GA (click on the title for additional details, pricing and to register) in case you want to make plans to attend or want to share with other professionals.
July 20 - 24 Course
VIRTUAL INTERACTIVE COURSE: ASMTRK Asset Management Track (ASM603, ASM604, ASM605)Three different courses offered in five days. The Asset Management Track is comprised of skill-based courses that, when taken in sequence, progressively build your knowledge of financing and valuation of real estate assets. You’ll work hands-on to explore various models of financial analysis in three applications-based courses designed to help you capitalize on your real estate assets.
Approved for 30 CE Credits through the Georgia Real Estate Commission.Log in to irem.org - REMEMBER TO TYPE IN ATLANTA GA AS THE LOCATION.Instructor: John Warthman, CPM.
Sept 21 - 22 Course: VIRTUALLY INTERACTIVE ON LINE WITH DR. DEBBIE PHILLIPS
Recruiting, selecting, managing, and evaluating a property management team can be a challenge for even the most experienced leader. Lucky for you, this course will walk you through a day-in-the-life experience helping you to better understand your leadership strengths and areas for development so that you can maximize the productivity of your greatest asset – your team. Approved for 12 CE Credits through the Georgia Real Estate Commission. Meets requirements for the ARM and the CPM. lOG IN TO IREM.ORG - REMEMBER TO TYPE IN ATLANTA GA AS THE LOCATION. Instructor Dr. Debbie Phillips.
Sept 23 - 24 COURSE:VIRTUALLY INTERACTIVE ON LINE WITH DR. DEBBIE PHILLIPS
Complete this course to learn how to position your rental property to succeed in your market. Discover what’s unique about marketing multifamily properties, learn what it takes maximize the value of the property, meet owner’s goals, and more effectively attract and retain tenants.
Approved for 12 CE Credits through the Georgia Real Estate Commission. Meets requirements for the ARM, ACoM, and the CPM. lOG IN TO IREM.ORG / REMEMBER TO TYPE IN ATLANTA GA AS THE LOCATION. Instructor Dr. Debbie Phillips.
Meet IREM Georgia's Partner, John Rebol with Higginbotham HR Services!
Insurance , Human Resources, Employee Benefits, Payroll - John loves helping people!
Click on his photo below and get to know about John with Higginbotham
IREM stands with our members, partners, employees, and communities as we all work to understand and overcome racial injustice. As an organization, we draw strength from our diversity. To stand together, we must stand up for one another.
IREM Georgia Meeting - Installations, Partners and the Program!
Reminder: Ask Congress for Relief for Renters & Housing Providers from COVID-19
Apr. 22, 2020
We hope that you and your family members are staying safe and healthy. As you know, much of the world has been turned upside down – including many of us in the real estate property management industry.
Congress recently enacted the “Coronavirus Aid, and Economic Security Act” (CARES Act), the largest relief package in our country’s history. Prior to its passage, IREM members sent thousands of messages to members of Congress voicing our concerns. Thanks to your efforts, the industry was able to secure several provisions aiding property managers and their residents affected by COVID-19. However, additional relief measures are needed to address remaining concerns.
Creating an emergency rental assistance program for those who are impacted by the pandemic
Further guidance on the CARES Act eviction moratorium to safeguard owners’ ability to manage their properties
Increased access to mortgage forbearance and ensuring fairness and flexibility
Provide financial assistance for property-level financial obligations such as property taxes or insurance payments and extend credit to multifamily mortgage servicers
Expand the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program to include all multifamily businesses
IREM is undertaking this effort as part of a broad coalition of real estate providers representing the entire industry. If all of us make our voices heard, we can secure the relief that is desperately needed. For more information, visit the IREM coronavirus resource center.
Thank you for your hard work and dedication! It is because of you that our advocacy efforts are successful.
Small Business Administration Covid-19 Assistance
Apr. 16, 2020
Below are documents from the U.S. Small Business Administration and Internal Revenue Service that can be downloaded as pdf files. These can be used in the future to apply for government assistance and complete required IRS documents. Please consult with your legal and tax advisors. There’s also a link to an informative PowerPoint presentation from the SBA.
This week finds many of us still settling into our new work-from-home environment. Trying to stay focused with all that is going on in our lives today is not an easy thing to do.
And as much as we know remote work can be fraught with challenges, we want to remind you that HBR will continue to publish articles to help you deal with working remotely and make sense of leading and working through this difficult time. One article in particular, That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief, has struck a chord, becoming one of the most-read stories ever on HBR.org. All of our coverage can be found on this dedicated page.
Here are a few key resources you may find useful to help you stay focused, identify the right work that needs to get done, improve team productivity, and more:
HBR Guide to Getting the Right Work Done Ebook + Tools Is your workload slowing you down? Being productive is not about putting in more hours — it’s about prioritizing, planning, and executing the most impactful work. But picking the right projects and staying on task and motivated can be overwhelming, especially now. Our Guide equips you with actionable strategies, templates, and recommendations to identify the right work, focus your efforts, and maintain your commitment.
Focus (HBR Emotional Intelligence Series) The importance of achieving focus goes well beyond your own productivity. Deep focus allows you to lead others successfully, find clarity amid uncertainty, and heighten your sense of professional fulfillment. Yet the forces that challenge sustained focus when working remotely, range from dinging phones to barking dogs to life’s everyday worries. This book explains how to strengthen your ability to focus, manage your team's attention, and break the cycle of distraction.
What’s Your Problem?: To Solve Your Toughest Problems, Change the Problems You Solve Are you solving the right problems? Have you or your colleagues worked hard on something, only to find out you were focusing on the wrong problem entirely? Most people have. In a survey, 85 percent of companies said they often struggle to solve the right problems. Using real-world stories and unforgettable examples author Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg offers a simple, three-step method — Frame, Reframe, Move Forward — that anyone can use to start solving the right problems.
HBR Guide to Making Better Decisions Ebook + Tools You make decisions every day — from prioritizing your to-do list to choosing which long-term projects to pursue. But most decisions don’t have a clear-cut answer and assessing the alternatives and the risks involved can be overwhelming. You need a smarter approach to making the best choice possible.
Teams at Work: Make Time for the Work That Matters (with PowerPoint) What if you could free up as much as 20% of your workday to focus on the responsibilities that really matter? It sounds like a pipe dream, but research has proven that it’s possible. This out-of-the-box solution will quickly get you and your team focusing on the work that matters.
Improving Productivity: A Harvard ManageMentor Curated Collection Improving productivity is more than just a matter of working faster; it’s about accomplishing more with limited resources. This hands-on online course pack includes tips, tools, and tactical advice on four essential management topics to help you get the most out of your time and your team.
HBR Guide to Work-Life Balance Stop running on empty. Every day you juggle the many components that fill your life. Between work and family commitments, and managing your physical and mental health, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and that you’re letting someone down or neglecting some aspect of your life. But you can find ways to honor your commitments without collapsing.
The J. Wallace Paletou Award is presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to the real estate management industry or contributed to the betterment of society as a whole through the role of a real estate manager.
The Louise L. and Y. T. Lum Award recognizes individuals who are actively engaged in real estate management and have made distinguished contributions to the profession through education, publication or the advancement of ethical and professional standards.
The Lloyd D. Hanford Sr. Distinguished Instructor Award is conferred to an IREM Instructor who has demonstrated exceptional commitment to the advancement of professional education in the real estate management industry. Nominees must be currently active IREM Instructor.
Recognizes innovative programs related to technology, customer service, sustainability, or marketing that are transformational for the company as a whole, a team, or a program.
IREM® statement on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
Feb. 28, 2020
IREM® statement on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
IREM acknowledges that property managers around the world are concerned about the health and well-being of their tenants and residents, as well as operational and business implications, related to the spread of the Coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are monitoring the situation in real-time, and while much is still unknown about how the virus spreads, both organizations have issued guidance for preventing exposure to respiratory illnesses, as well as planning considerations for places of business.
It is IREM’s position that these organizations are the best resources for up-to-date, science-based information about the Coronavirus disease. We’ve shared links to some of this information below. IREM is being proactive in reaching out to both the WHO and the CDC to ask them to issue specific guidance for real estate managers to prepare for and respond to an instance of COVID-19 should it occur at one of their properties, as they have done for other industries serving concentrated populations such as airlines and cruise ships. In the meantime, please consider the following general best practices:
Prepare a continuity plan for your business if you don’t already have one in place, and make sure your employees have reviewed and understand the plan.
Thoroughly review all your leases to make sure they address potential business disruptions in a pandemic.
Keep your working environment healthy by establishing hygiene protocols such as providing easily accessible hand sanitizers, ensuring adequate air circulation and encouraging the use of sick leave as necessary.
Provide information to residents and tenants about the common sense actions they can take to prevent the spread of infection (IREM has prepared these customizable templates property managers can use to post at their properties.)
If a property manager becomes aware of a tenant or resident with a confirmed case of COVID-19, they should contact the WHO, CDC, or local health department. Questions from tenants, residents, or the media should also be directed to the local health department or CDC resources. We encourage everyone to regularly check these resources for the latest information. While this is an evolving situation and concern is reasonable, we can all take an active role in preventing the spread of infection by following the expert guidance from these organizations.
Kevin Owens is looking for an Amazing Team to Serve on
IREM GA's Committees
Nov 2019 - Nov 2020
Kevin Owens, CPM®
IREM GA has been recognized for having such a strong Leadership and Succession plan in place for grooming officers to become the President. The GA Chapter promotes volunteering to be a committee person to the entire chapter.
Serving on a committee, then becoming a committee chair - begins the process for becoming an officer one day. We have several active committees and becoming a chairperson for one of them is a big responsibility and a great opportunity
Exclusively offered by IREM ® , Income/Expense Analysis ® Reports provide precise and current real estate market data so you can benchmark, forecast, and compare your properties to the competition. Encourage Promotions!
Incentive for our New Partners: they will earn 50K IREM GA Bucks if they apply before May 31st and we will waive the $250 admin fee. They can also participate in the Annual Tradeshow on June 24th – and will save an additional $200.