If you're a landlord who owns a single-family home or a small building with a handful of units, you may be able to tackle all of the maintenance and repairs yourself. However, if you have a larger building, or a busy full-time job, then you'll need to hire a super to perform those tasks. And you shouldn't trust just anyone for the job. Here's how to go about finding the right person.
1. Set the right expectations
If your goal is to find a building super you're happy with, you'll need to do a good job of defining the role ahead of time. What specific tasks will your super be responsible for? What turnaround are you looking for that person to offer tenants when they put in maintenance requests? Do you need a full-time, on-site, dedicated super, or will a part-time super do? Map these things out so that it's clear to applicants what you're looking for.
2. Get the details on candidates' experience
A super with 10 years of experience may seem like a decent hire, but is that candidate the right choice for your building? You may not want to bring in a super for your 100-unit building if he or she has previously only worked in a building with 20 units at most. Similarly, some of the tasks on your list may not be things every candidate is familiar with. Ask a lot of questions during the interview process to ensure that you find the right fit.
3. Solicit recommendations
If you know other property owners, one of them may know a super who's looking for work. Asking for recommendations is a good way to start or narrow down your search.
4. Be sure to check references
Because supers tend to live where they work, they don't typically job-hop as often as people in other professions. Any super who presents as an out-of-work, fully available candidate with experience may not have the most stellar track record, so before you hire someone, be sure to talk to the previous landlords who employed him or her. Even if you encounter a candidate who's out of work for a good reason -- say, he or she recently relocated -- it still pays to talk to the people who employed that person previously.
5. Focus on personality
Your building super is the person your tenants will likely interact with on a regular basis. In fact, in some cases, they might see that super more than they see you. While it's important to make sure that your super has the skills needed to do the job, he or she should also have the right personality. Ideally, you'll want someone with a pleasant, helpful demeanor serving as a representative of your building. Otherwise, you may find that you start getting your share of tenant complaints.
The right super could spell the difference between having your building run smoothly and maintenance and tenant issues galore. Take your time vetting a super before hiring one so you don't wind up regretting your decision or having to repeat the process all over again.