The Real.Est List
My super is corrupt, and my managing agent doesn't care
Q. The super in my midtown condo doesn't move if you don't give him tips every time.
When I give my favorite doormen tips, they always ask me not to give it to them when the super is around because he always wants a cut.
When I needed to replace my old appliances in the kitchen, if I didn't buy it from his dealer friends, who pay him a commission, he wouldn’t allow our in-house handyman to help install and he even locked my installer outside the building and wouldn’t let him in.
I am friendly with a few nicer doormen, and some of them told me that the super and his corrupt handyman deliberately ruin residents’ air conditioners or smoke alarms, then take another tenant's good parts to replace it, and, meanwhile, charge for the stolen parts as new parts.
I have talked to a few unit owners. Everyone hates him and some have complained to the managing company, but they haven’t done anything besides say, "It is hard to find a good super, and they are all the same!".
It’s unbelievable, and I am so sick of it. What can I do?
A. Managing agents are technically answerable to the board, not the individual owners, so to prod an unresponsive managing agent you may need to get your board’s attention first, says Thomas Usztoke, a managing director wtih Douglas Elliman Property Management.
The best way to do that is to start communicating--in writing--with the managing agent and copying the board president or the entire board on every letter, recommends real estate lawyer Steven Wagner of Wagner Davis.
“That’s a very effective way of getting the staff or the managing agent to do whatever it is they are supposed to be doing,” says Wagner. “If the copying of the president/board doesn’t work, you will have documented the reason why the board should be voted out and your slate of candidates voted in.”
On the bright side, says Usztoke, the managing agent could be ignoring you for good reason.
“It’s possible the board is already investigating and the agent has been directed to stay tight-lipped on the subject with anyone," he says.
Trouble at home? Get your NYC apartment-dweller questions answered by an expert! Send us your questions via our feedback form.