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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Noticing the Nicest

No matter what you celebrate, December tends to be a time of giving. And if you live in a co-op or condo, that giving doesn’t include just family and friends – it also includes your building staff.

Tipping the staff is always a fraught topic. Did I give too much? Did I give too little? Should I hold back with that doorman who always looks as if he’s dozing, or should I just over-tip the one who’s always smiling?

Different boards are going to have different policies, of course, but Ira Meister, president of Matthew Adam Properties, reports that his boards tend to employ an unusual – and highly successful – system.

“We have buildings – co-ops – that pool [money to be given to the staff],” Meister says, “and we’ll give the employees a list of who contributed and how much they contributed.”

Doesn’t that cause resentment? “It causes fewer problems,” according to Meister. “At one point we just used to give a list, but there are people who give extra and people who give a dollar. People who were giving more were complaining.” And so a spreadsheet was born. “It’s a very simple spreadsheet,” Meister says, “and if [a resident] didn’t give, we put a note.”

It’s not necessarily about naming and shaming, Meister insists, though he’s quick to point out that some residents prefer to give on their own, and not through the building. Others will include instructions on how their money should be distributed.

“In the past, [we’ve had] residents who sent a note saying, ‘I am sending in the money; however, I would not like anything given to this particular employee,’” says Meister. “[Alternatively,] I had someone give extra money [because] ‘this doorman has been super.’ And we’ll do that! We’ll give it to them with a note.”

Happy holidays, indeed.



[misfeasance]  A transgression, especially the wrongful exercise of lawful authority. (Not to be confused with malfeasance: wrongdoing, especially by a public official.)

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