Question: “Can a doorman, super or porter do stuff for you around your apartment?”

— Not so handy in Hell’s Kitchen

Dear Not So Handy:

It depends on what your building allows, and each building has its own written and unwritten rules about such matters. So ask. Ask your neighbors, a board member or the super. They’ll fill you in.

Every building is different. Tonier buildings might have some obstacles, but most co-ops and condos are going to be fairly flexible. No extra work on building time, but otherwise you can probably find someone who will give you a hand. Yes, the doorman will walk the dog right after his shift is over. Yes, the porter will paint the second bedroom, but not until his next day off.

I’ve never had any problems getting staff to do extra work for me. In my cases, I’ve always gone directly to the super, who quotes me a price and arranges for a staffer to do the job. I pay the super. Cash. (I once annoyed a super because I didn’t ask for his help replacing a dishwasher. I just had the store’s delivery guys do it for an extra $75. “We’d have done it for $50,” the super told me.)

All that said, you should know that co-ops and condos operate with the same basic division of responsibility: If it’s in the wall or part of the common areas or infrastructure, then the building staff maintains it and repairs it. That work is paid for out of your monthly maintenance fee. If it’s on the wall or otherwise contained within your apartment, it’s your responsibility and you must pay for it separately.

Wiring problem with a ceiling light fixture? That’s the building’s job.

Installing a new ceiling light fixture? That’s your job. Check with the super. “Sure, we’ll do it for you. Twenty-five bucks.”

David Crook is a veteran journalist and author of The Complete Wall Street Journal Real-Estate Investing and Homeowner’s Guidebooks. Do you have a question about anything real estate-related in NYC? Write him at For verification purposes, please include your name and a phone number; neither will be published. Note: Nothing in this column should be considered professional legal advice. If you have a legal issue, consult an attorney.

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