Carol Staab
Associate Broker
Douglas Elliman
111 Fifth Avenue
New York , NY 10003

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Advice For Tipping Your Building Staff For The Holidays

A number of my clients are some newer residents in my building often reach out to me this time of year and ask me for advice on how much they should tip the staff. Tipping the building staff is seen by many residents as an additional item on their “to do” list in December. However consider tipping as an opportunity to show your thanks to the hard working staff in your building for all the things they do to help your building run efficiently and what they do personally for you.

How much should you tip? Well that depends on how many apartments are in your building. The more apartments there are in a building then then the tips can be smaller because there are more tippers to contribute. In addition, it depends on whether you have a big staff or smaller staff. If you have a big staff then the individual tips tend to be less. Then you need to look at the quality of service given and the length of the employment of the staff member. It also depends whether you are frugal, average or generous tipper.

Here are some general guidelines for you to consider depending if you live in an average doorman building or a luxury building

Super (Resident Manager) $200 to $1,000
Doorman – $100 to $500
Concierge – $300 to $1,000 The day time concierge usually gets a higher amount then the
Nighttime concierge since he or she has more duties.

Porter – $75 to $100
Handyman – maintenance man – $100 to $200
Garage Attendant – $50 to $100

Can you tip your favorite doorman or concierge more? Yes since they are exceptional and are providing you with a higher level of service. My experience from living in luxury building for over twenty years is that the staff does not discuss the exact amount they get from each resident.

My building has a tipping pool. Do I need to give an individual tip? You should tip those staff members individually that have given you outstanding service during the year.

Should I tip the new doorman less than the one that has been there for twenty years? Newer doormen do get lesser tips than those who have been there a long time.

When is the best time to give my holiday tip? Many residents tip any time during December. However many doormen like to get their holiday tips early in the month because it helps them with their own holiday shopping.

Are checks Ok or do I need to give cash? Cash is preferred. However if you cannot give the staff member a tip in person then write a check to prevent any “sticky’ fingers.

How do I tip staff members I rarely see? You can ask your super or another staff member to hand out the gift however write a check.

Are holiday tips tax deductible? For the most part the answer is no. My accountant says if you are running a small business from your apartment then you can deduct $25 per staff member. The percentage you deduct must correspond to the percentage of your apartment that you use as a home office.

Do I have to tip? No, you do not have to tip. Tipping is a custom not a requirement. You will be in the small minority if you do not tip.

What happens to bad tippers? The staff have to do their job whether you tip or not. They are going to hold the door open for you, give you your mail etc. However if you live in a luxury building and the staff just feels that a resident is just being “ cheap” then some of the staff may change their attitudes towards you. I can mean fewer smiles at the doors and fewer favors. Staff members talk among themselves and share who gave them small tips or no tips. Some of my staff tell me what residents do not tip them. They do not go out of their way for them.

That said be sure to tip your building staff and garage staff generously during this holiday season. The great service that you will receive all year long is worth many times over the amount of your holiday gift.