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Hiring the super for a side job? Check with the board first

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Bringing in the super for minor repairs around the apartment (and giving him some extra cash for his trouble) is often a natural fit—after all, you know him, he knows the building, and it's all much faster than calling in outside help. But this can be a legal grey area with issues of worker's comp and liability insurance, writes Habitat Magazine, and if you're in a co-op or condo building, there's certain protocol you'll want to put in place to keep the situation from going sour.

If the super is doing the job himself, he should have the same paperwork as a normal contractor would—insurance, qualifications for the type of work at hand, and approval from the board. One easy way to set this up is something called a "chargeback system," in which the super is allowed by the building to do repairs for individual residents at set prices—i.e. a flat $30 fee for a faucet fix, says Habitat. Residents can either pay this fee directly to the super or to the board (which will turn it over to the super), guaranteeing that he'll be covered by the building's insurance should anything go wrong on the job.

There are still limits to this, though, and for major jobs that involve wiring and plumbing, it's always wisest to bring in outside help. And even if your super isn't taking on the job himself (or delegating it to a member of the building staff), it's always best to keep him in the loop, and maybe even seek out his advice on outside workers who might be a good fit for the job. After all, keep the super happy, and they'll keep your building happy.

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