What Is a Building Super and What Do They Do?

A building super is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of a residential or commercial building. The word super is an abbreviation for superintendent.

The responsibilities of a super can include fielding maintenance requests, making small repairs, cleaning the common areas, enforcing rules, performing regular inspections of common areas, handling emergencies and coordinating with outside contractors and vendors.

The specific duties of a building super can vary depending on the size and type of building, the needs and budget of the owner as well as the style of the managing agent.

What are the job responsibilities of a superintendent?

The typical job responsibilities of a superintendent include the following:

  • Performing routine inspections of the building.

  • Cleaning common areas such as the lobby, elevator and roof deck on a regular basis.

  • Handling small repairs.

  • Ensuring that all building systems are functioning properly and efficiently, including heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, and elevators.

  • Sorting and disposing of waste.

  • Reporting safety hazards to management.

  • Responding to emergencies.

  • Acting as the liaison between ownership/management and residents.

  • Turning on and off the boiler / heating system.

  • Coordinating with contractors and other service providers to complete repairs or renovations.

  • Providing building access to contractors, inspectors and other third parties.

  • Reporting violations of the house rules to management.

  • Managing the building’s security and responding to emergencies.

  • Handling small requests from individual residents (typically for a tip).

Specific duties of a superintendent vary by building. Very small buildings typically have a part-time super, and self-managed condo or co-op buildings often have no super at all. In the case of large doorman buildings, there may be several full-time maintenance personnel.

How much do building supers make?

The salary of a building super can vary widely depending on factors such as the size of the building, the specific job responsibilities, the building owner’s budget and the individual’s quality and experience.

In NYC, the super of a small building may earn as little as $500 per month.

A super in this pay range usually works a set number of hours per week doing a limited number of tasks including cleaning the common areas, responding to emergencies, taking care of small repairs and coordinating building access with outside repair personnel.

Part-time supers typically work for a number of buildings which are located within the same neighborhood or general area.

Salaries for full-time supers are significantly higher, reflective of the additional time on site and extra responsibilities. The super of a very large building may even take on a more managerial role and oversee other maintenance personnel as well as third party contractors and vendors.

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Live-in supers are generally willing to accept a lower salary than they’d otherwise expect in light of the substantial financial benefit of being provided with a free apartment in the building.

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What makes a good building superintendent?

A good building superintendent should possess the following qualities:

Basic maintenance skills: A building superintendent should be well versed in basic maintenance tasks such as replacing an outlet, unclogging sinks, drywall repair and painting. A super should also possess knowledge of advanced construction techniques. Keep in mind however that large, specialized repairs are typically handled by third parties.

Good communicator: A good building super must be able to effectively communicate with tenants, ownership, management and third parties. Because a super is often called in times of emergencies (such as a flood) when tensions are high, supers should be able to stay calm under pressure and not be easily triggered by others. Having a diplomatic approach to disputes is a must.

Problem solving skills: A super should know how to troubleshoot and resolve issues as they arise, including problems with electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems. In the case of large issues, a super should be able to narrow down the problem so that the appropriate 3rd party repair person can be called.

Physical stamina: A super must be in good physical shape in order to be able to do physical tasks such as painting, lifting heavy objects and climbing ladders. A super must also be comfortable in the presence of rodents and vermin since they’re commonly found in the basement near building mechanicals, such as the boiler.

Is a super the same thing as a landlord?

With relatively few exceptions, supers and landlords of apartment buildings aren’t the same. A landlord generally employs a supers to assist with the maintenance of the building.

In the case of a very small building such as a townhouse, it’s possible that an individual landlord may take an active role in the upkeep of the building in lieu of a super. However, this is the exception rather than the norm.

Disclosure: Hauseit® and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. No representation, guarantee or warranty of any kind is made regarding the completeness or accuracy of information provided.

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