IMPOSSIBLE TO LIVE RENT-FREE IN THIS CITY? Think again. One way to save
money - and make some - is to become a building super.
over a year ago, Craig Murgatroyd quit his job as a real-estate agent to
make more money overseeing eight buildings in NoLIta.
10-hour-a-day job; Murgatroyd is usually up by 7:30 a.m., putting out
the trash. The 26-year-old spends the rest of the day checking boilers,
cleaning common spaces and fixing the tenants' faucets and toilets.
who has a background in repair work - also does renovation work on
apartments. As a side gig, he also rents some apartments in the
supers in this city, he gets free rent, and he notes that his salary is
"above $40,000." Not a bad deal, considering his apartment on Mott
Street would otherwise rent for $3,000 a month. And he and his wife
don't pay utilities (most supers don't).
wife bringing in a healthy salary, the couple has been able to amass a
tidy nest egg. Murgatroyd plans to quit his job in the next five or so
years to concentrate on buying and renovating buildings.
know why more young people don't [work as supers]," says Murgatroyd.
"When I first moved to New York two years ago, I couldn't believe that
the rents were so high. This is the perfect job to be able to save
everyone has the skills - or patience - to spend their days fixing
toilets and responding to tenants.
have no idea what supers do," says Dick Koral, secretary-treasurer of
the Superintendents Technical Association, a nonprofit organization of
supers based in Brooklyn.
the plumbing, electrical and waste disposal systems, and the elevators,
and boiler room to take care of," he says. "It can be a thankless
require that if an owner doesn't live in the building, a super must live
there or within a one-block radius.
range from less than $10 an hour (in a low-rent building) to $120,000 a
year (in one of the city's most upscale buildings). To make real money,
supers have to work in middle- to high-end buildings; most of them
require that supers have certificates allowing them to work on boilers,
stand pipes and sprinklers, or air conditioners. In New York, supers can
earn those certificates by taking classes at the Thomas B. Shortman
School on Sixth Avenue.
other buildings, supers are required to have a fitness certificate
(issued by the New York Fire Department). Koral says most of the city's
5,000 (largely male) supers have some type of handyman background, or
have worked as doormen or porters.
York supers get free rent and utilities. They can also get such perks as
hugely discounted cable and Internet services.
supers, it's not just a job, but also a lifelong career. Peter Grech,
president of the Superintendents Technical Association has worked 28
years as a super at various New York buildings.
the super at 25 Fifth Ave. in Greenwich Village, he oversees a staff of
10: porters, doormen and other building workers. Living in the building
for free, he makes "above $90,000" and gets health insurance through the
On a typical
day, Grech inspects the building, oversees contractors and talks with
tenants. His favorite part of his job? He's basically his own boss, and
has been able to put away substantial savings.
the super business has evolved from simple maintenance of the building
to maintenance of the tenants.
tenants just want to be spoiled," says Grech, who has responded to
tenants' requests to open champagne bottles, unscrew jars and check on
(sometimes deceased) neighbors. "There's a lot of baby-sitting
for every "super" super, there are those who don't do enough to keep up
buildings, according to Koral.
have supers that just sweep and take out the trash," he says, "and many
aren't keyed into larger societal problems like running a boiler
efficiently to reduce pollution."
interested in being a super, look in the newspaper want ads or call
management companies. The high-end buildings may be harder to break
into, according to Grech.
anything else in this city," he says. "It's all about who you know."