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Porters, Handymen, and Doorman, or PHD's Blog
  Questions For Supers - 1051 to 1100  



"Knowledge is the life of the mind. -Abu Bakr


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  last update on Sunday February 03, 2008 01:17 PM PT

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Do not construe any answers we give as legally binding in any way. We don't practice law and do NOT dispense legal advice.



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last update on Sunday February 03, 2008 01:17 PM PT

  Question #1100: Are there any specific requirements for sealing a vacant apartment in a multiple dwelling that is intended to stay vacant? As a practical matter how should it be done? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: There is no specific way required, to the best of my knowledge, either by code or by rule of thumb. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1099: I have been a superintendent in New York City for 10 years.  My wife and I bought a house in PA. My wife travels back and forth from PA to NYC at least 5 times a week. I go every weekend. Is my new house my primary residence?  Post your answer

Answer/Comment: See the answer to Question #499.

  Question #1098: The manager of a local corner deli (Manhattan Upper East Side) has asked me if I would put an aluminum/canvas vestibule (second doorway) in for her. Do I need to be licensed somewhere, somehow, to do this for her legally?  Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Most likely you will need a permit if a second door was never there. Anytime part of a building has something added to it that is on the street or faces the street, permits are usually required.  

  Question #1097: I am looking for information on how to become a building superintendent in the NYC area. I have well over 15 years in construction & construction management field. I am looking to become a building super. I notice that I need some licenses, I just don't know how to go about getting them. Please be so kind to reply and to let me know where I need to start. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: There is a wealth of information on this subject right here on this website, and if you had already taken some time to read it you would understand that you don't need any licenses to be a super, generally. The licenses (certificates of fitness, etc.) that you may need are for a specific building, usually, because of specific equipment there. Licenses needed, if any, can be obtained by taking the Fire Department of New York fitness tests, which are also referred to elsewhere on this site. You may want to start by reading the questions and answers specifically on the Licenses, Exams, & Certificates of Fitness page, then read the STA School page for classes that will prepare you for some of the most-needed of the exams, then call the school director with specific questions and for registration.

  lQuestion #1096: I rent a single-family house in Centerport on Long Island. Our oil burner is extremely old and was last inspected, but not cleaned, in 2003. There is an overwhelming smell of oil in the burner room. When I complained to the landlord, his response was, "That's because there is oil in there." I would like to know if he is legally required to have the burner inspected and cleaned on a regular basis. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: I am not familiar with Long Island rules. In Manhattan, all boilers must be inspected every year. Peter Grech, GBOC

  lQuestion #1095: I live in a 200 unit condo complex in New York. If I "hire" a super or porter for after hours freelance
work such as painting, plumbing, etc., what am I liable for if their work "fails" (i.e., plumbing leaks). What is my exposure if they are injured while working freelance in my unit? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Yes you are liable. Make sure your homeowners insurance covers workers inside your apartment. When you hire staff on "their" time, you are hiring them as an independent contractor and you are the general contractor. But as always, legal questions are best answered by an attorney. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1094: Anyone know anything about Jordan Cooper Associates, as of what kind of company they are from a super's view? Post your answer



  Question #1093: When interviewing for a superintendent position with a building manager, what is the proper attire? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Never go for an interview in your uniform. If the position is for superintendent and salary is 30 - 50,000 then go dressed with shirt and tie and a jacket, business casual. If salary for the position is 60 -80,000 go in suit or blazer. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1092: In my parents apartment there is a waiting list to get a garage spot. They have lived there for 10 years. I have inquired with the super where my parents were on the list, and when we checked it together, they were crossed off the list. (This was 3 years ago). I informed him that they did not have a spot, and he stated that they'll be next to receive one. 3 years later, still no spot. I have first hand knowledge that the super has given spots to more recent tenants. I've spoken to the board and management,  and they send me back to the super with no help. I keep getting a run around, and my parents still don't have a spot. If I request for the super or management to supply me with a detailed waiting list, can they refuse me? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Yes they can refuse you. I guess you don't get the hint that the super is sending you. You want the spot, you are going to have to dig into your pocket and give him a "tip" or bribe or whatever you want to call it. Don't make a fuss about it or you may never get a parking spot. Is that legal? Is it fair? Do you want the parking for your parents or not, is what you need to ask. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1091: I recently resigned from my position as Resident Manager from a building. The question is, would it be appropriate to send a letter to my residents as well of my resignation? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Resignation letters should always go to the employer. Now just who is the employer is not always clear, as not all buildings are the same. Be that as it may, residents should not get a copy. However, some resident managers send copies to the residents, especially if the Resident Manager feels he had to resign and wants to make a point or explanation. This rarely has a good effect as most people don't care anyways and just love to read about dirt. It won't help you or your case one bit. So, if it just makes you feel better or if you feel you owe an explanation I would just forget it. But, you can certainly do it... after all what is your ex boss going to you? I wouldn't sent residents anything, just a nice good bye note is good. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1090: I just caught my trusted porter stealing building supplies. I've noticed supplies running low quicker than usual for a few months. His story that his uncle in a neighboring building asked to borrow them turned out to be a lie. I suspended him for two weeks. He stole and then he lied. I am a fair guy and treat all my staff as if they were my sons. I had my share of asshole bosses. My gut says fire him. Do I go with my gut? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: First, how long has he worked for you? Second have you caught him doing anything else wrong. What kind of past track record does he have in the building with you and other shareholders/residents. Has anything else come up missing? if so do you suspect him? What kind of worker is he? A lot of things you need to consider before firing someone. Most important, is do you think you can trust him again? Curt Bergeest

Answer/Comment: This is part of my job I dislike the most. It was a good decision to suspend him rather then just terminate him on the spot. First, the value of the items taken should be reimbursed by the porter. You should take into consideration length of service, quality of his service, as replacing a good staff member is hard. You should also find out why he did it. After weighing in all the facts make your final decision. Stealing is not a good thing, but lying is worse, although it is a human nature thing to do when in trouble. You have a hard choice to make. Good luck.  Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer/Comment: If something like this does happen again fire him and if you are looking for a porter, I'd love to get the job!

Answer/Comment: You should probably wait at least the two weeks suspension time, maybe even a bit longer before you make a final decision on this – the tendency to make really bad decisions is often in direct relationship to how much negative emotion goes into it. It sucks that you can't trust a person anymore, especially someone that you trusted implicitly before and that you had a great relationship with, but it may be salvageable. This could be a great opportunity to learn some life lessons, especially for him but also for you and others around you who might be watching the whole scene unfolding. And it may be that you can learn to trust each other again over time, and that it could turn out to be a positive experience for both of you. Think about how you'd like to be treated if you found yourself in such a situation and the roles reversed. This is not to say you should keep him - simply that it could figure into your considerations. Training a new person to do things how you want them done is always a time-consuming task and can be extremely frustrating, you can’t trust that new person completely right away and who knows whether or not the new hire will eventually become a trusted employee? It’s a crap shoot, whereas the guy you have right now, given some time to prove himself, may be trusted again as much as or even more than before, directly because of what was learned through this experience.

  Question #1089: Why is steam excessively coming out of the house radiator? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: As always not easy to give answer without knowing the system, etc. But in most cases, the air vent in the radiator is defective when it allows steam or water to spurt out of it. It is an easy fix and the air vents are around 10 bucks. Make sure a good air vent is installed and not a cheap one. When replacing the air vent it should be done when the steam system is in cycle or not producing steam, just in case the shut off valve is not working. Peter Grech, GBOC

Answer/Comment: It would be helpful if I knew where on the radiator the steam was leaking. If you have and if the leak is from the thermostatic radiator valve, replace it. If from the area of the inlet valve, the valve packing needs to be replaced. Your hardware man may be able to instruct you on that. Dick Koral

  Question #1088: I'm a long-term, "fair market value" leased renter living below a rent controlled neighbor with a washing machine that's caused many floods in my apartment over the years. The neighbors finally removed the washing machine and my water pressure increased dramatically and the weird pipe sounds stopped completely. Right before the holidays, I heard noise coming from upstairs sounding like metal or tin sheets. Just days later, I have no hot water and no water pressure. The neighbors deny having a washing machine now, and my super, who works for my landlord, actually HELPS my upstairs neighbor repair, hide and lie about the fact that they have one. I've told my landlord about having no hot water and that the neighbors connected a new machine and I've heard nothing. Is my landlord required to get the machine removed? How long does he have to resolve the matter (get me hot water, water pressure, etc)? Aside from calling 311, what other legal recourse is open to me to get this machine removed permanently? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: If it is a true rent-controlled apartment, then there is no lease. In most cases rent controlled apartments have no lease, as far as I know. So, provisions in any lease that "outlaws" washing machines only hold water if it is in a written lease. Now, add that the super installed the machine, the super being agent for the landlord, thus gave approval for the machine. What does this mean? Either way, the above machine stays. You are entitled to hot water. You would need to ask the landlord to restore hot water one more time. Note: if you make waves, the landlord may not give you a lease extension, this is one of the pitfalls of fair market rent apartments. Unless of course there is a rider in your lease saying you have first right of refusal to renewing a lease. So, either way looks like this will go to housing. Once again, the above is based on 32 years experience and is not to be considered as legal advice. You should ask an attorney. Since you are paying top bucks, what the heck, look for a new apartment. Also note that you should look into the details on how your apartment became decontrolled. Many times mistakes happen and you can get reimbursed big time. Sometimes it just doesn't pay to fight. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1087: I am the manager of a 20-family building in New York City. The building has more than 30 window air conditioners that never get removed from windows, never get covered for the winter, and installed with no consideration to create an air-tight seal. As this is highly inefficient, making the installation of thermal windows useless, is there a building code or regulation to force the removal of window units in the winter months, or is there a charge to tenants when they do not comply. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: If building is not a co-op or condo, call in HPD for an inspection. Chances are these old clunkers are in violation of something. If not, HPD may have access to resources to help. Dick Koral

Answer/Comment: No there are no such codes. However, if it is a co-op or condo, then changes to the house rules can be made by the board. If a rental building, then a rider to the lease or lease renewal can be made. As always you need to consult an attorney first on lease matters. Answer/Comment:

  Question #1086: We have a new boiler with a layer of insulation under the jacket. A representative from NYSERDA advised us that we should also wrap the boiler (over the jacket) with an additional layer of insulation. Our service company has never heard of this procedure and we do not know if it is permissible under New York City codes. Can you tell us if it's ok to do this and where to look for a company that can do it? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Yes, it's legal under the city codes, and could save a lot of money in fuel bills - FYI: a NYSERDA representative knows the city codes, and wouldn't advise you to do something which goes against them. If your service company has never heard of insulating boilers and pipes, etc., they certainly don't have your best interests at heart, besides which they're pitifully inept and uneducated - find a better one who has kept up with the technology and the times and who cares about conserving energy, helping the environment AND saving your building a ton in resources. See the answer to Question 1058 for a company who does the work.

  Question #1085: I just signed a rental agreement for my new apartment - I haven't moved in yet. I noticed that the toilet seat is left over from the previous tenant(s). Is the landlord required by law to put a new toilet seat in before a tenant moves in? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: No. Most people don't realize this. Decent toilet seats are $20 and are easy to install. Landlords are not even required to paint the apartment before you move in. As long as everything works and no hazards - it is what it is. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1084: I rent the first floor in a two-family dwelling. I recently put Christmas and Hannukah decorations on my front door and windows. They include lights. My landlord has told me that I am not allowed to keep the Christmas decorations up. Is he allowed to restrict/prohibit decorations. There is nothing on the lease. What are my rights in this matter? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: You have no rights when it comes to anything dealing outside of your apartment. Being a two-family house other rights are even more limited. So, just hang it in your window to pee him off if you like. Note, maybe landlord is not Christian. Best just to do what he wants and keep the peace, after all this is the time for Peace On Earth And Good Will To All. With That, Happy Holiday and best wishes from me to every one who reads this. : ) Peter Grech, GBOC

Question #1083: I'm super in a 53 apartment building, I'm a part time super with no salary and free rent. My building has been sold to a new people (with thousands of buildings), they bought 5 buildings of the same management. On December 10th they sent us a letter by fax to the 5 building's supers: "Dear employee, we would like to thank you for your hard work and dedication; however as of January 1, 2008 your services will no longer be needed. Thank you , management." And they told my manager to tell us on 01/01/2008 we must pay regular rent or move out. We (all the supers) feel so bad because they fired us without any reasons and without face to face explanation. I also heard they want to keep the 5 buildings with no supers, and having a person doing the complaints and cleaning, living out. I think we don't deserve this, after years of hard work, they should give us time to find a job, but they just give us 20 days. I would like to have opinions about my case, and I also would like to know if it's legal they kick us out with no reasons. And please tell me what I have to do about this. (They don't want to speak with us, we called them several times to get an appointment to have a meeting and they said I'll call you later and let you know a date to have meeting, and they never call back). Post your answer

Answer/Comment: While this is sad, there is a bright side. Most supers jobs become available after Xmas. So January and February is the time that a lot of jobs become available. As it happens, STA is having a resume and job interview seminar in January. I don't know the date, but keep looking at the CALENDAR page for updates. Meeting is open to members and NON-members alike. Jimmy

Answer/Comment: This happens a lot. You are not the first and won't be the last. First of all, unless you have a contract or are in the union, your employment falls under what is known as Employment At Will. Which means you are free to quit anytime you like for any or no reason, and the employer has the right to terminate employment without reason or cause. Many states have the rule, New York is one of them. Second, how much notice? It is customary to give a super 30 days notice to vacate the apartment. You only got 20. This is what will most likely happen if you do not move out with in 20 days. On Jan 1, you will be considered a tenant on a month to month basis. Any issues you have will go to Landlord-Tenant court. Many times the courts have found in favor of the super not having enough time to vacate and thus were given the additional 10 days free of rent. Other times, no. There is nothing set in stone. Want my opinion? Find an apartment to rent while you look for another job and move out as soon as you can. Court costs are high. The most you can win would be 10 additional days rent free. Some people reading this answer will say, That's not fair! I agree, but who said life was fair. Rich get richer and the rest get screwed. Sorry I didn't have a better answer. All of you may want to pool your money together, get an attorney and fight. My opinion is every time I fight on principal I may win the fight but lose the battle (lots of money). Keep us posted. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1082: I read question #516 re electronic ignition and have a further question. My gas stove's burners and oven have to be lit each time with a match. Is this considered acceptable in New York City? If it is not okay - I gather from question #516 that the landlord could replace my decades-old stove with another used stove with a working pilot light. Is this true? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: The answer depends on your lease. The landlord is required to supply a working stove and refrigerator. If this is in the lease, then the landlord is required to repair or replace your defective stove. If you have a stove that previously had working pilot lights and now those pilot lights don't work, the landlord is required to repair or replace. If you stove DID NOT have a pilot light and you had to use a match, then landlord is NOT required to replace that stove - unless it is defective. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1081: I live in a non-fireproof building but there are no external fire escapes. We do have access to enclosed stairs from our apartment that lead to the outside as well as the 2 enclosed stairwells in the hallway, however, I thought non-fireproof buildings ( the building has 6 stories) were required to have external fire escapes? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: What I gathered from your question, what you have is legal. Back in the '20's, building on avenues like Fifth and Park did not want the unsightly exterior fire escapes. So was born the internal fire escape (that is the one that you can get to from your apartment). It's not strange for a building to have internal fire escapes for the front apartments and exterior for the rear. No one sees the rear of the building. Happy Holidays. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1080: When the Housing Department makes a landlord fix a balcony and the landlord just removes the balcony and puts up a railing - can they do that? We are under rent control! Post your answer

Answer/Comment: It is the landlord's property and therefore he can choose to remove it or replace it as long as all is within codes. The question is, was the balcony usable space for you? If it wasn't then no loss, if it was usable space and it was paid for within your rent, they most likely you are entitled to a rent reduction. How much? I don't know. Best thing is to consult an attorney. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1079: Where can I get the certification for a number 2 or #4 boiler license. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Nowhere. #2 and #4 oil burners do not require certification. However you may need the DEP air pollution control certificate. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1078: I live on the top floor of a 7 story apartment building, and have the steam vent pipe hissing very loudly. Other top floor neighbors' pipes aren't as loud. Anything I can do? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Seems to me the vent is working well. You are supposed to hear air coming out. If the hissing has water with it, then it's time to change the vent. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1077: I was out of town for a while. After coming back to my condo I found a small door in my bedroom wall. I haven't gotten any notice from the management office and super. Later the super told me that he installed the door after installing a valve. It was not an emergency repair and there was no notice. He just entered my property without my permission and installed it. I don't want to see it in my bedroom. Can I sue him? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: You can sue most anybody for most anything - the questions to be answered are along the lines of, Was there malicious intent, and, Is it worth my time and the money I'd spend in lawyer fees and, Would it be ethical to sue in this case? Without more information it's nearly impossible to answer your question definitively, but I think suing in this case would be an injustice and a grossly inappropriate response. What the super did, although it may not have been emergency work - and if not he should have at least tried to contact you to get permission, he certainly was planning ahead, since closing the wall up would require him to break the wall again in the future should there be a need to close the valve for whatever reason (believe me, that time WILL come again sooner or later). It's better to plan ahead. The most you should do is demand that he restore the wall to its original condition, but remember the wall will have to be broken again if access to the valve is needed. With the little door in place it won’t be necessary to break open the wall again. Having said all that, this is NOT legal advice, merely a few comments based on quite incomplete information given which is in my mind no doubt biased in your favor.

  Question #1076: How do supers in multi-family housing know what guidelines to follow? Because the super in my building gave a tenant the middle finger, what should that tenant do? This person is out of control. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: First guideline is ethical standards. Second would be building policies and parameters as set by board and / or managing agent. Last but not least is respect. Those would be the guidelines. We can never be sure why the bird is given, especially if we are not there to see exactly what happened. There are always at least two sides to a story. That being said, a person in charge of anything should always keep a level of decorum and professionalism. The person receiving the bird should let the super know that the gesture was not appreciated. Management can also be notified in the form of complaint, but I believe that it should not go that way. The issue should be resolved between tenant and super, in my opinion. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1075: How long does it takes for a super to be in the union? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: In a union building the union contract requires the super to join the union within two months of being hired. This should be confirmed by the union, as not all super contracts are equal. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1074: How does a pressure tank work with a sprinkler system, and how do you keep the pressure at the required level? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: The pressurized system has a tank that works with water and air pressure. When a fire starts the heat or flames of the fire melts the solder around the sprinkler head and the sprinkler head opens, allowing the pressurized air to release. The tank has a clapper, or door, that restricts the water from passing through the sprinkler pipes unless the air is first released. Once the air is released the water is allowed to pass through. The unit can be repressurized by an outside company. Roberto Cardona

  Question #1073: I am soon to be a live-in super at a twenty five-unit building. The building is very clean, not many problems & mostly friendly. The work is basically clean the hall, throw out garbage and light repair work. The rent and electric is free and I will be paid for bigger jobs (plastering, painting, etc.) With this information given, can you estimate how much a month I should be paid, or a site that can help me. The extra work in the building really only comes when a tenant moves out, so the extra money is not always there. Also, for your info the building is in Brooklyn. That's in case you need to know the cost of living over here. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: From the little described of the building size and work, I'd say that you'd be lucky to get the free apartment and utilities, without a monthly stipend, although I could be missing something that would easily change that.

  Question #1072: Can a superintendent have a paying roommate in an apartment given to him (free of charge including utilities) as part of his employment / compensation. Some details: non-union, 5 story walkup, co-op. Super's apartment is a legal basement apartment, and is a large one bedroom, easily convertible to two bedroom, separate entrance, etc. While I prefer facts, opinions are welcome. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: While there is NO law against a super having a paid roommate in his rent free apartment, ethically this may pose a problem. Also the co-op or condo bylaws and house rules may require a resident to get permission. If no rule exists, then you are obligated to let someone know, whether it's your managing agent or the board, that you are getting or having a roommate. The super's apartment is for the exclusive use of the super and his immediate family. The roommate may not qualify. Get permission first is my opinion.  Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1071: The building where I work has an automatic boiler. It turns on whenever the weather is below what the law requires. Tenants keep threatening if I don't give heat the entire day. How do I let them know that the boiler can't be on the entire day and that it's automatic. They don't understand. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Yes, the law requires heat to be given at a certain time when the temperature falls below a certain set temperature. But the law further states that the temperature of 68 degrees must be maintained. This means that during the hours of 6 AM and 10 PM, when the outside temp is below 55, the indoor temperature needs to be 68 or more. Thus, boilers doesn't need to be on all the time. Take a thermometer up to the complaining tenant and take a room reading. Do it when the boiler is on cycle, and if the temperature is over 68 degrees, tell them they have too much heat. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1070: My question comes under the category of super job responsibilities. I told my super about my broken toilet bowl seat and he provided me with a new one but didn’t offer to change it for me. In my attempt to change it myself, I caused a hole on the top of the toilet bowl because the screw on one side would not come loose and he had to replace the entire bowl. My toilet bowl is not a tank so the water shot up to the ceiling every time I flushed. I felt this was his responsibility to change even though it comes under the category of a menial task. I now have a broken kitchen cabinet drawer which needs repair. Should he be responsible for tasks such as this? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Your question has a few variables. If you live in a condo and are the condo owner, it is your responsibility to fix your own toilet seat and toilet, but if you live in a condo and rent from the owner it is his/her responsibility. Generally any plumbing behind the wall is the building's responsibility. In this case the super is not obligated to install. Now if you live in a rental building that has a landlord who expects his super to make these changes, well then in my opinion he should have changed it for you. Again remember, take care of your super, tips count! You work too, and no one expects to work for free, at least not in NYC.

Answer/Comment: Why not just ask? Why wait for the super to offer (could it be possible that he may have understood you to be asking for the seat only - weirder things have happened)? Most supers, if asked, will do anything like that, whether or not it part of their “job responsibility,” whether or not it’s seen as a menial task by them or others, and by the way, although you didn’t bring it up, whether or not a tip or payment is offered, which you could also have tried.

  Question #1069: I am a super in 2 residential buildings, one 90 unit and another 30 unit. I am trying to investigate ways that I can make my building greener. I'd like to fine eco-safe garbage bags and zero-VOC cleaners. I currently use 2 suppliers for products but wanted to see if you were aware of any helpful websites or suppliers. Thanks so much for your time, and thank you for this website, it's awesome. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: You can try NYSERDA's website. Look under some PON notices for money you may be able to obtain. Look under the the heading Program Assistance, on the right side there is a heading called green buildings. Curt Bergeest

  Question #1068: I have a burner that burns #6 oil. What I want to know is how does the oil compressor work with my boiler? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Number six oil is a heavy oil. A residual to be exact. Thus for proper combustion the oil needs to be broken up (atomized). In the old days a spinning cup using centrifugal force broke the oil up into smaller pieces (atomized). Today a more efficient way to atomize the oil is to use compressed air to break up the heavy oil into fine droplets, by forcing air into the nozzle where the oil is introduced, commonly at 30 to 35 psi. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1067: Is it "illegal" for building superintendents to perform plumbing repair work inside walls, ceilings, and floors? Work such as removal of existing damaged pipes and installing new pipes by cutting, threading, and sweating new pipes together. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: The key word is repair. If the super or handymen is repairing an existing line outside the wall then they are permitted to do so without a license. As for drain pipes, same thing applies except the work must be done after the trap. Any work done on a drain line before and including the trap requires a licensed plumber. That is a rule of thumb that has worked for years and years. Any new work where no pipes previously existed requires a licensed plumber. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1066: I own a 4-unit building in Queens. We have had a bed bug issue for the last year. Originally they were in one apartment, then they spread. I've spent a lot of money getting the problem treated and treating it myself, and they're still around. Am I as an owner responsible for a bedbug problem that a tenant originally caused, or possibly from a next door building? Please advise. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Bed bugs are a nightmare. You need an exterminator who is VERY experienced in bed bug removal. The treatment is not a one time thing, and must be treated at least twice, if not three times. Every inch of the apartment needs to be treated. Some items need to be thrown out and before you throw them out, they need to be SEALED in plastic so the bugs do not spread. Who is responsible? Bed bugs, coach roaches, mice, are a landlord's responsibility. The court will tell you it's a cost of doing business. Good Luck. P.S., call Metro Pest Control at 718 803 0000 they will come and assess your situation. DON'T WAIT. IT WILL GET WORSE AND SPREAD. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1065: How does a vacuum system work with a steam boiler? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: The answer to this question is too long to answer here. Also the question is: what type of vacuum pump / machine do you have? There are different ways in which a vacuum pump can create a vacuum. The end result is that a vacuum is created on the condensate side of the steam line, which evacuates the condensate and air faster then if by gravity or mechanical returns. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1064: How long does it take to get all the licenses needed to become superintendent of a 100 apartment building in Brooklyn? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Your question is too vague. Licenses are required depending upon the equipment the building has. No one agency gives out all the licenses., e.g., standpipe, sprinkler and #6 oil combustion require FDNY licenses. If your building is Pre-1970 you are required to have lead abatement and Lead Work Safe Practices certification by HPD and DEP. How long does it take to get them? You need to take classes, then take the tests. About two months or less depending on class availability. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1063: I live in a top floor apartment, sixth floor. Our shower leaks from the head, not the removable piece, but the pipe? How can I fix it? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Best way is to ask the super to do it and tip him for it. Otherwise to do it yourself - if I understand correctly what you need to replace: remove the shower head by using a small wrench, then remove the "bent pipe" that the shower head was attached to. Be careful, as this pipe may be old and brittle. Once you remove the bent pipe, install a new bent pipe. Note on all the threads you need to apply some pipe or joint dope to prevent the threads from leaking. Once you installed the bent pipe, by using a small wrench, install the shower head. Also be careful, as the wrench may leave wrench marks on the chrome pieces. The whole process takes a few minutes as long as the pipe is not stuck or the pipe doesn't break off. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1062: I am a porter for a Bronx residential building. I would like to know where I can get a list of my job duties and responsibilities. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: You should have a job description, you should ask for one if you don't, but if your superior is a hard liner you might be opening a can of worms. All the jobs I had I never had one, just did what I had to do and what I was told to do, gained a lot of knowledge as a result of it. You must have a right attitude - how far do you want to go - and you never know as much as you think you do.

  Question #1061: I don't have a GED right now and have no experience working as a porter or handyman. Is there any program? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: You need to find a superintendent or a building manager willing to give you a shot. I got my break as summer vacation relief and found a full-time job after the vacations were done with.

  Question #1060: The house I am living in has really old windows and most of them won't open. Isn't this a safety hazard, and shouldn't they have to replace them? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: No, it is not a safety issue, more like a health issue. No, they are not required to replace them, but are required to have them in working order. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1059:  What kind of boiler maintenance or repair work can you do without a license? What about for gas boilers? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: To ask this kind of a question, you obviously don't know much about the issue, and should leave it to the professionals before you make a costly - or even worse - a deadly mistake.

  Question #1058:  It's too hot in my apartment and I have no control over the heat. I have every window open in my apartment and it is still at least 80 degrees, and it is about 45 degrees outside. I've called the super and he says that he cannot turn down the boiler because the people downstairs will be too cold. I told him that I would prefer to have the heat off in my apartment and he said he cannot do that because it would turn off the heat to the other apartment on my floor. I suggested that there is a problem with the boiler and he said I would need to call the landlord. My landlord tends to be difficult and unresponsive. What are my options? I am sure that my apartment would reach over 100 degrees with the windows closed. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: As the tenant in a building it is sometimes difficult to imagine why your landlord would make your apartment so hot - especially with the cost of oil approaching $3.00 per gallon. In many cases the landlord may not be aware of the condition ( you can help with this), or he might not be aware of how to correct the condition since it is likely something that has been going on for a long time.
It sounds to me that what you are experiencing is problem with the balance of heat in the building (one side too cold while the other is too hot). There are several methods to correct this condition from the landlord end that involve minor modifications to the heating system and / or boiler controls.
From your vantage point there are several things that you can do to help keep the apartment at a more humane temperature:

1. Wrap the radiators or the heating element of the baseboard heater in your apartment completely with Aluminum foil ( Like you were wrapping a birthday present)- be sure to cover the gaps in between the openings of the radiator. This will prevent air flow through the heater and significantly reduce its capacity to heat your apartment - If it gets too cold just remove some of the foil.
2. Buy and install a radiator cover, this will help prevent air flow and have a similar effect as suggestion #1 if the problem is severe you may want to do both.
3. Speak to your super and ask him to install smaller air vents on your radiators so the steam will not get to your apartment so quickly. ( To expedite this you may want to go to a hardware store and buy the vents yourself - then give them to the super to install - (do not install them yourself).
4. Pass a copy of this question/answer to your landlord along with your rent check and let him know of the problems that you are experiencing. My company would be happy to survey the building at NO CHARGE to determine the cause of this problem and advise what can be done to everyone's satisfaction.

Answer/Comment: This is a classic example of an unaware and uninformed as well as ignorant and arrogant landlord, unresponsive to his residents - residents who actually care enough to try to save the landlord some money. Just as importantly, the landlord is seemingly stone deaf to a clear call to conserve resources with very little effort. He could be doing his part for climate change as well as accommodating a resident's wishes and needs, but going even further, saving for himself an extraordinary amount of wasted money on energy to boot. The problem is really not with the boiler at all, which can be tuned and the heating system balanced and optimized to eliminate this overheating problem quite easily, but is with the attitudes of landlord and even management, who just do not care enough. This includes the super, who could, on his own, take solid steps to diminish the waste in this situation. There is often no antidote to ignorance, except that which comes from inside one's own head and heart with the dawning realization that a problem such as recklessly wasting fuel CAN easily be changed, then seeking out and deciding on a remedy, a set of steps to take, and putting them into motion.

  Question #1057:  Where in New York is there a capacitation institute for solar electricity (solar panels, etc.)? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: I spent a little time on this and was NOT able to find anything about your request. Perhaps NYSERDA can help you. NYSERDA is the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1056: I've been a bit paranoid because my landlord has been taking measures to evict me, and with the winter months coming up, I was wondering about building heating systems: Is it possible to regulate heating in a building from apartment to apartment? More specifically, could my landlord or super block heating to just my apartment while the rest of the building remains heated? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: No. The system operates as a entire system. The only heat can be isolated from your apartment only is to have it shut off from the inside of your apartment. There may be a valve on the riser but that would mean to shut down all the apartments on that riser line. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1055: Super at a 115 unit co-op for 7 years, duties included 10 cleaning related functions and minding the emergencies, and boilers. Throughout the years, heart driven, I set up appointments and stayed with subcontractors from problem till repair ends. Management has less involvement. I have seen only regular Christmas bonuses, and after 4 years a raise equal to the cost of inflation. I was given a part time helper after 4 years. Finding out that management tried firing me for not answering my phone on a Sunday (my day off), the board did not allow it. Now I may be presented with a NEW job duty list. How should I embrace this 1st "contract"? With open arms? Should salary compensation be in order? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Without knowing what the additional duty is, my suggestion is: figure out how much more time the new duty will take per day / week. If it is less then 5% of your time increase then let it go. If it is going to be more then 5% then ask for that percentage as a salary increase. The good news is that January / February is coming and a lot of super positions are historically available. So, tough it up until then and get your resume out there if you are not happy. I can not tell you enough how many supers are not paid a fair salary. Problem is for smaller buildings that you can be replaced within weeks and possibly cheaper. Peter Grech, GBOC

  Question #1054: Does anyone here know how I can prove to my landlord that these pressurized walls are legal and within code? The company I want to hire couldn't assist me with that, nor could they tell me where it would be considered a piece of furniture as described by them because it is temporary, with no screws to make it a permanent partition. Post your answer




Question #1053: I am a newbie on the board of a tenant association. We are currently renewing the super's contract. One person on the board wants a "job performance review" done on a quarterly basis. I say that is too much and should be done on a semi-annual basis. Do you know of anyone who goes thru a quarterly job performance review? Is this excessive or just plain anal micro-management. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: It's not only excessive but also anal micromanagement, no question about it in my mind. Most supers, if / when they get a performance review, get it once a year. That should be good enough.

Answer/Comment: It's anal micro management. To be honest most buildings don't even do a review except at the holiday time when the question of how much to give as a bonus comes up. If your building wants to be more corporate, then semi-annually is good enough, anything more is micro management and a waste of time. Peter Grech, GBOC


Question #1052:  I have a new chiller plant opening up, that requires a "watch engineer." I am told by the union that this individual cannot leave the room while the chiller is running, per the FDNY rules. If this is true I would like to read the full regulations, if available. Post your answer

Answer/Comment: This is true, as long as the chiller is a compressor type and that it is over 100 tons. Peter Grech, GBOC


Question #1051: Is the super responsible for mice in co-op tenant's apartment? Post your answer

Answer/Comment: Mice issues are the responsibility of the building. Since the building hires the super, in some way the super will be involved in mice extermination. Best way is to get an exterminator who is qualified in this area. Please note, it's the law that a building provides extermination services at least once a month. Supers can help but it's best left to the professionals. Peter Grech, GBOC