‘Tis the season for parties, presents, and, oh right, tipping the staff in your apartment building. But what is expected or appropriate can be a tricky thing to calculate, especially in light of all the other mounting holiday expenses undoubtedly on your docket.
“First and foremost, tipping is not a necessity as many believe. However, it is a great way to show your appreciation for staff and all they have done throughout the year,” says Victoria Shtainer, a luxury real estate specialist with Compass. “Also, building staff is attuned to who tips and who does not, and it is something to be cognizant of.”
In other words, the people who keep your building running will probably remember who took care of them when you have future requests!
With that in mind, we’ve put together a little guide to help take some of the guesswork out of tipping protocol for apartment dwellers, so you can ensure your apartment-dwelling days continue as smoothly as possible.
Should you tip cash, check, or gift?
In most cases, cash is the preferred tip; it goes easy and straight into the recipient’s pocket. However, checks may be “safer” if you’re not handing the money directly to its intended (thus preventing the recipient from getting shafted by sticky fingers).
Gifts are generally less appreciated only because most building staff rely on holiday tips to round out their salaries. However, if you’ve had a hard year financially, it may be better than nothing.
“You can always give them a card and let them know you’ve had a bad year, and maybe give them a small gift card,” says Nick Rafello, a licensed real estate broker for Compass.
Some buildings may also “pool” tips and then divide them among the employees. However, even in those types of buildings, many apartment dwellers still opt to give their own separate tips instead to make sure their acknowledgment doesn’t just get lumped into one big anonymous sum. Private tipping may feel more personal, especially if someone who works in your building has been particularly helpful over the year.
Whom should you tip?
While most apartment buildings will distribute a sheet outlining the staff (lest you accidentally omit anyone), in general, tips are appropriate for any workers who help keep the building operating. This includes the superintendent, doormen, porters, maintenance workers, and so on. Some buildings will have additional contractors like security personnel, but tipping them is usually not required unless they’re also functioning as doormen.
Tipping the landlord or a building management company is generally not expected, but there are ways to show appreciation if it’s warranted—or potentially useful.
“This is typically not common, especially in large rental buildings that have hundreds of tenants constantly turning over, and who may not have much interaction with the management company,” says Shtainer. “However, a nice holiday gift basket/spread always leaves a good impression.”
This is something you may wish to consider especially if you’re trying to get a bigger or better apartment with the same company down the line.
If your landlord or building owner is an individual, this is one instance where a gift may be acceptable and appreciated.
How much should you tip?
While the actual amount you give is totally at your discretion—and varies widely per city, neighborhood, and type of building—there are general parameters that most people tend to follow. For a broad range, you might consider the following:
Super/resident manager: $100–$200
Doorman and/or concierge: $75–$150
Garage attendant: $50–$100
While there may be a bit of a perceived hierarchy within the building, it’s usually OK to also skew your tips in favor of those individuals who help you the most, or with whom you have the most interaction. In other words, go ahead and play favorites a little.
“Bottom line: Tips are earned, so to me it’s not about some set hierarchy, but rather about service,” says Brian Letendre, a broker with Bohemia Realty Group. “If you have a doorman that checks your kids getting off the bus and walking in to make sure they’re safe, that person should get more than someone doing the basic maintenance.”
On the flip side, however, don’t completely stiff someone just because you don’t like them. Building employees talk, and you don’t want to make enemies where you live.
Should you tip nonbuilding workers, too?
Chances are you have some people who help keep your daily life on track who aren’t technically building employees whom you should also remember when it comes to tip time.
“The range should vary on how much you use their services,” says Letendre. “For example, I pay my housekeeper double the normal amount around the holidays or cancel her coming in (if I’m out of town) but pay her anyway.”
For a housekeeper, regular nanny/baby sitter, or dog walker, one week’s salary is generally considered a generous gift if you can afford it.
You might also consider tipping the UPS person if you are someone who receives a lot of packages ($25–$50 is usually sufficient). While letter carriers, as government employees, are generally prohibited from accepting tips or gifts over $20, if you know your carrier personally, gift cards or a small present can be a nice gesture.
When should tips be delivered?
While there is never a “bad” time to tip, most building employees usually prefer sooner than later. Rafello recommends you have your tips distributed by the second or third week of December—but it’s also better late than never!
Letendre had another thoughtful idea, which is to see if you can discern what winter holiday each employee celebrates and try to tip around the time of “their” holiday. This shows you pay attention to them as a person as well as staff by recognizing their beliefs.
In the end, while tipping is a custom more than a requirement, remember that tipping can certainly incentivize the people around you.
“If you want to be taken care of, take care of the people who help you,” says Letendre.
The post The Ultimate Holiday Tipping Guide for Apartment Dwellers appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.