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What Is a Building Super?


May 04, 2020 by Sebastian Obando

Landlords looking to hire a building superintendent know the correct candidate will help them manage their properties. Additionally, the advantages of hiring a good building super stretch further than just property management; most supers act as the link between landlord and tenants. Some areas also require a building superintendent present in the building with more than a certain number of rental units.

Here, we'll explore the benefits of hiring a building super, go over their responsibilities, and give you some pointers for hiring the best building super for your property.

Benefits of hiring a building superintendent

The benefits of hiring a building superintendent with experience extend to both the landlord and tenants of the apartment building. First, supers can solve mechanical day-to-day issues involving the heating plant of the building, electrical system, plumbing, and just general maintenance inside the building.

Second, having a building super is an added amenity for tenants, which could help in marketing the building. In multifamily buildings, supers will respond directly to tenants' requests and will be responsible for the upkeep of common areas in the buildings. A superintendent will handle all types of projects, from leaks to overseeing teams of general contractors for major repairs. For this reason, supers should have all the appropriate training and licenses in areas such as boilers, HVAC systems, and fire safety.

Property management will craft the exact responsibilities of the job. In smaller buildings, supers generally perform all the duties of a superintendent as well as added tasks, such as doing repairs and taking out the trash. In larger buildings, where staff consists of other porters and handymen, the super's role may shift to more of a manager-type role.

Resident property managers with a foot in real estate investing should know that properties with more than a certain number of rental units are required to have a building superintendent. This number will vary by location. There are also certain tax rules involved, so you'll need a tax professional experienced with multi-unit rental properties on your team.

Responsibilities of a building super

Though tasks vary depending on management, most superintendents can expect to assume the following responsibilities:

  • Garbage: As mentioned, supers will be responsible for taking out the garbage. In larger buildings, this might be the responsibility of the cleaning staff, but the super will still be in charge of overseeing this.
  • Cleaning: Supers will be responsible for keeping common areas of the real estate clean or ensuring the maintenance staff completes the cleaning. This also includes any snow removal in case of extreme weather.
  • Small repairs: This can include locks, sink leaks, or small holes. Some superintendents with additional training and experience will also be able to fix heating, cooling, and plumbing issues.
  • Tenant requests: Tenants will contact the super first with any concerns. This means superintendents will in most cases act as the middleman between tenants and landlords and will need to be readily accessible for tenants.
  • Turning over units: In the event that a tenant moves out, some form of upkeep is generally needed for the space left behind. Supers will, for the most part, be responsible for this maintenance, as well as showing the property to potential tenants in some cases.

A building super should interact with tenants because this can help with retaining tenants in the building. Along with just providing excellent customer service to the tenants of the apartment building, supers with meaningful interactions with tenants will help spark a commitment between the tenant and the building, meaning the tenant is less likely to move out of the building at the end of the lease.

The job description of a superintendent varies depending on the building and property manager, but the main task of the superintendent is generally to ensure the upkeep of the real estate. This can mean either doing the work manually or overseeing a team of general contractors. Superintendents will also be the direct link for tenants to connect with the landlord.

Questions to ask when interviewing for a building super

When researching potential job interview questions for your building superintendent, hiring managers should first begin with understanding why the candidate wants the job in order to determine whether the position is a good fit. Later, ask open-ended questions about previous employment situations on the job, and see whether the superintendent can identify situations from previous employment where he or she learned things they can apply to the role. You will want to learn about any specific skills this person brings to the table, such as experience with managing general contractor teams or fixing issues involving heating, cooling, or plumbing. Candidates can expect to highlight how they will go about performing their day-to-day duties and how their previous experience relates to the opening.

How to hire a good building super

Property managers should be looking for these skills when determining how to hire a good building super: First, a superintendent will possess the temperament to provide excellent customer service. In most cases, building superintendents are generally the direct link between landlord and tenants, so having a building super skilled in communication is a definite plus that could help with not only keeping the operations of the apartment building running smoothly but also with tenant retention rates. In addition to working with tenants, building supers must have the ability to perform basic repairs in electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems.

A good building superintendent's resume reflects experience in the industry. Work on a construction or maintenance crew and education in property management are added advantages. Make sure you're also aware of these property manager red flags while hiring, as they also apply to building supers.

The bottom line

Along with general upkeep of the common area of the property and management of daily operations of the asset, a building super skilled in customer service can also help with retention rates. For this reason, hiring a building super makes a lot of sense for landlords of both big and small assets. Still, not all supers provide the same value, so make sure to err on the side of caution in order to gain all the benefits of hiring a building superintendent.

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