6 responsibilities of a building super

A building superintendent—also known as a super, property manager, or resident manager—oversees maintenance and repairs for a residential building that typically houses 10 or more units. As a landlord, it helps to have someone on-site for general maintenance and upkeep, and to tackle minor repairs. An on-site super can also be a selling point when marketing your property to tenants. 

In smaller buildings, a building super handles maintenance and repairs. In a larger building with more robust staff, the super may take on more of a building manager role. Properties with a certain number of rental units are required to hire a super, and rules vary by location—in New York City, for instance, buildings with 10 units or more must have a janitor or super who lives on site or within a block, and is reachable 24 hours a day.

A live-in super may occupy the ground level of the building or a basement apartment rent-free or for a reduced rate. (He or she may also receive a salary, or wage, besides housing.) If the super doesn’t live in the building, he will likely live close by—in New York City, he must live within one block or 200 feet from the building.

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Table of contents

6 Responsibilities of a building super

6 Responsibilities of a building super

Building supers oversee a handful of duties in the building, though responsibilities may vary by the size of the building.

  1. Handling garbage removal.In smaller buildings, the super takes garbage and recycling out for collection and returns bins. A super knows local garbage collection rules, including when trash is collected and bulk items should be placed for pick-up. In larger buildings, a super may manage a staff member who collects trash.

  2. Cleaning common areas. A building super in a smaller building cleans common areas, or in a larger building, ensures the maintenance staff does. This often involves sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming the halls, stairways, and walkways. Snow removal may be required in the winter months.

  3. Maintaining the property.Building supers are responsible for preventative maintenance, like scheduling regular inspections, and handling minor repairs, like a leaky faucet. In bigger buildings, there may be a handyman on staff and the super will manage his workload. Some supers handle major repairs, such as plumbing issues, while others manage larger repairs.

  4. Resolving tenant issues. A super in a smaller building often fields tenant complaints. In a bigger building, another staff member may take complaints, but the super will likely help out. Depending on the severity of the complaint, the super may resolve the issue himself (think: changing a lightbulb), delegate, or contact the landlord for input.

  5. Managing building turnover. A landlord may charge a super with preparing the apartment for turnover. This involves routine maintenance, like painting, cleaning, replacing tiles or grout, checking locks on windows and doors, as well as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If the super doesn’t perform those tasks, he may hire professionals.

  6. Communicating with the landlord. The super is often the first point of contact for tenants, and if an issue needs the landlord’s attention, the super will pass on the message. The super can also alert the landlord to building issues, such as an illegal pet or broken electrical plumbing.

A building super serves as the liaison between the landlord and building tenants. There’s no one-size-fits-all job description for supers, so bear in mind that your experience with supers may be different from someone else’s.

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