If you had to name the single most valuable individual to your co-op or condo, who would it be? Certainly, your board president, managing agent, corporate counsel and accountant are key players. But boards and residents should never underestimate the importance of a competent, conscientious superintendent. The condition of your building's mechanical systems, how well maintained its public areas are and even aspects of its financial condition can all be traced to how well your superintendent performs. Knowing how to gauge your super's performance and how to improve it for the future will go a long way toward making your property the best it can be.
The role of the superintendent demands an ever-increasing level of professionalism and competence in a wide variety of areas. "The super must be conversant with every mechanical and technical system in the building, work diplomatically to solve problems in the building, be responsive to residents and be able to work as a team member with the board and the managing agent," says Steve Kessler, director of management at Andrews Building Corp. in Manhattan.
"He should be cost-conscious and honest when it comes to working with vendors and contractors, proactive when it comes to heading off problems, and he should have all the appropriate training and licenses in such areas as boilers, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and fire safety," adds Pat Goldwater, vice president of Aptek Management in Manhattan. "He also should be on the premises or immediately available 24 hours a day, seven days a week," she adds.
In fact, the Housing Maintenance Code of Union 32B/J, the union that covers building workers such as superintendents, clearly states that in residential buildings of ten or more units, the super must live either on-site or within 200 feet of the building. "And," says Jerry Picaso, principal of the Manhattan-based management company Gerard J. Picaso, "he should be able to effectively manage the handymen, the porters and all other building staff members." Despite all these "shoulds," it's interesting to note that no specific description of a superintendent's job responsibilities is included in the Union 32B/J contract.
"It does sometimes say what the super can't do," points out Donald Maher, a partner with the law firm of Maher & Brown and a labor and employment expert. "For instance, supers can't collect rent. But in general, job duties are not described."