Although it's your building superintendent's job to maintain your apartment complex, an occasional gesture of gratitude will not go amiss if your site manager has gone that extra mile to help you out. You won't want to be dropping large bills every time your superintendent changes a light bulb in a communal area, but you will probably want to oil the wheels if he's gone above and beyond to assist you individually.
Tipping for Tasks and Jobs
Anytime you have reason to call on your building superintendent to carry out a task for you, no matter how small, it will be a good idea to slip him a note or two. Regular small tips are a great way of showing your appreciation and making sure you maintain a good relationship with your super. You should tip when your site manager carries out any repairs for you or arranges a visit from tradesmen.
Handing over a few dollars when your super helps you out with your mail or dry-cleaning also is a good idea. If any staff in your building go above and beyond the call of duty by doing something such as walking or feeding your pets while you're away, a tip will be unavoidable.
How Much Should You Tip?
The amount you should tip your building superintendent will depend on your budget and the type of accommodation you live in. You'd generally be expected to hand over more if you live in a luxury apartment than you would if you lived in a downtown block.
As a rule of thumb, stick to between $5 and $10 for routine maintenance such as unblocking a drain. Anything smaller than this could be seen as a bit of an insult. Perhaps consider going as high as $40 or $50 if your super looks after your pet while you're away.
How to Handle Holiday Tipping
It's customary to reward workers who've performed a service for you with a tip over the holiday season. The Emily Post Institute recommends superintendents should get a gratuity between $20 and $80 or a gift before the holidays. You'll probably decide to stay toward the lower end of this if you've been tipping your super left, right and center throughout the year. A little something will be in order, though, no matter how generous you've been to date.
Exceptions to Tipping
Don't feel as though you have to tip your building superintendent for tasks that aren't directly linked to you. It will obviously benefit you if a faulty elevator gets fixed in your apartment building, but any work carried out in communal areas of your complex aren't necessarily tip-worthy. You also shouldn't feel bad about failing to grease your site manager's palm if he's not done a good job. If it has taken three months to get your leaking tap fixed, there's no reason to pay a gratuity.
Michael Roennevig has been a journalist since 2003. He has written on politics, the arts, travel and society for publications such as "The Big Issue" and "Which?" Roennevig holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the Surrey Institute and a postgraduate diploma from the National Council for the Training of Journalists at City College, Brighton.