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As New Yorkers check their holiday gift lists, many wonder how to manage one particularly niche category: building staff tips. Widely regarded as an important show of appreciation for the hard work of those who keep the city’s residences running, there is little one-fits-all guidance for who and how much to tip building staff.

The festive elves of W42ST have your backs! Below, you’ll find the most popular recommendations — and a few longtime West Siders share their tipping philosophies to help you give with confidence. 

It’s a challenge to work out tips at luxury buildings. Photo Montage: Phil O’Brien & Sam Dan Truong/Unsplash

While there’s no set rule for how much to tip (nor is it a requirement, although it’s largely regarded as a show of respect between residents and staff), NYC real estate publication Brick Underground helpfully conducts a comprehensive yearly survey of thousands of New Yorkers’ holiday tipping habits, compiling ranges for each type of building role. The publication notes that tipping amounts should and will vary — depending on how long you’ve lived in your building, its number of residents, whether you rent or own and your own financial capability. 

Their recommended framework is:

  • Super, resident manager: $150-$300 on average; $100-$500 broad range
  • Doorman and/or concierge (the latter handles more personal requests, like lining up an emergency dog-walker): $75-$200 on average; $50-$1,000 broad range
  • Porter, handyman and maintenance staff: $25-$50 on average; $20-$100 broad range
  • Garage attendant: $25-$75 on average; $20-$100 broad range

As for Hell’s Kitchen’s holiday tippers, the varying factors of building size, number of staff, and relationships all factor in to their yearly giving. “We set out with a total amount of money we are going to give in tips and then divide it by the number of people to get our ‘standard tip,’” said Chris and Lora (who have lived in both rental and condo buildings in the area). “We then adjust the individual tips up/down from the standard, based on how often we interact and, frankly, how friendly the individual is.”

Estimating tips at luxury buildings is a challenge. Photo: Phil O’Brien

For Daniel and Patrick, who live at the residential luxury tower River Place: “We absolutely love the staff — they have gone above and beyond many times and we tip regularly, including buying them lunch once or twice and letting management know when they do something extra.”

West Side realtor Jeffrey said that “I don’t believe in any hard and fast rule. If you’re the type of resident that continually asks the building staff to go above and beyond their normal duties for you throughout the year, you should tip accordingly.”

For apartment owners, Jeffrey advises: “The building staff are essentially your employees and help maintain your investment. In these cases, I do feel everyone on the staff deserves a holiday gratuity.  In terms of how much, again, I don’t think there is any hard and fast rule on minimums/maximums. You should always tip within your means. This is obviously different for everyone. It may also vary year to year depending on your financial situation.”

And even for renters in small buildings, “I think a gratuity is in order,” he told us. “Again, the amount depends on your financial situation and how much you ask the super to do for you above and beyond their normal duties. Also, these tenants are usually rent stabilized and there for the long haul so they have relationships built up with the building staff.”

He added that “for large rental buildings, or if you’ve only been a tenant somewhere for a short period of time, I don’t feel tipping is generally necessary. Again, if you are the type of tenant that is constantly asking the staff to go above and beyond, yes, you need to tip them.”

In terms of his own tipping habits, the longtime resident of a large rental building said that he’s “not the type that asks the building staff to go above and beyond their normal duties for me. However, I have been there for almost 20 years so I choose to tip the doormen at holiday time. There are four regular doormen who have been there a number of years, I give them each $100. As for the porters and maintenance staff, I tend to tip them at the time of whatever job/repairs they might have to do in my apartment throughout the year. I do not give them a general tip at holiday time.”

For some Hell’s Kitchen residents, simply gifting everyone makes the process easier. Entrepreneur and Author Peter Shankman told us that he tips everyone “from the doormen to the super to the porters… It’s, on average, a $2,500 overall expense, but it makes sure that everything that’s supposed to happen throughout the following year happens, when it’s supposed to. Plus, my building staff work their asses off. They deserve it.”

And if you’re still stumped, there’s always a personalized recommendation from The Agency’s holiday tip calculator!

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