Not all substandard supers prefer to be called Rambo, consume porn in public, or perpetrate electricity scams.
According to one Manhattan property manager, the most common complaints are that the super is never in the building, has a second job, is always in his apartment, or always seems to be moving his car.
Another property manager says kvetching tends to ensue when the super doesn’t match the building.
“A super cannot be all things to all employers, and sometimes he fits better in a different building where his employer has different expectations,” says Paul Gottsegen, the president of Halstead Management.
Some buildings want a resident manager in a suit and tie; others want a super in work clothes with a wrench in his back pocket. Different type of buildings—ones with extraordinary mechanical needs, versus a large staff that needs supervision, versus a small building best suited to a DIY super—need supers with varying levels of mechanical, supervisory, and people skills.
So what should you do about a problem super?
Curt Bergeest, Vice-President and Manhattan Chapter President of the Superintendents Technical Association of New York, recommends that you start by treating your not-so-super-super like you would want to be treated at work: Don’t go over his head before addressing the problem with him first. After all, even if your super does get fired or transferred elsewhere (and either can take a lonnggggg time if the super is unionized) you will have to live with this guy for some time.
Bring unresolved problems to the building’s management company. In an ideal world, it will be considered an opportunity for education first and sanctions second, says Bergeest.
“Sometimes it’s a case of the super needing to take classes so he can perform his job better,” Bergeest says. “Perhaps management can introduce a super to other building supers who can explain how they operate their own buildings. If that doesn’t work, the management company would eventually file paperwork with the Union.”
Bear in mind also that the problem could be your own unreasonable expectations: Supers may live at work, but at the end of a workday, they’re only on-call for emergencies like fire, flood, and major building damage.
“A stopped-up toilet or burned-out lightbulb is not an emergency,” Bergeest says. “Most supers work longer than their work hours. Imagine if you lived at your office. If a repair can wait until the work week, let it wait.”