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What is Required of Me When I Provide Mailboxes to Apartment Tenants?

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According to US Code Title 18, it is a misdemeanor or a felony to either delay or hinder the delivery of mail, even if you are sharing a mailbox with your tenants and must distribute it privately.

In most cases, you are required to provide mailboxes for the residents of your apartment complex. Not doing so is a form of obstructing the mail, which is illegal. Providing a mailbox to each resident in your apartment building or complex is standard, though this is not legally required in every state. Tenants also have the right to receive their mail in a secure fashion.

What if your state doesn’t require you to provide tenant mailboxes? If you are in a state where providing a mailbox to your tenants is not mandated, you must still install mailbox units if your tenants ask for them. An exception can be made if the lease clearly says the tenant must use a P.O. Box.

What if a carrier needs to access a secured area? By law, all USPS mailbox units (cluster, horizontal, or vertical) must have an arrow lock to allow a carrier access. If the mailbox units are in a locked lobby or foyer, as the landlord, you must provide your carrier with a key to access this area.

What if you’re installing new mailboxes? You’re responsible for ensuring that the new units follow what are known as 4C standards. Purchasing a USPS-approved mailbox gets you halfway there, as these units are manufactured with the correct compartment size, durability, and layout in mind.

The Americans With Disabilities Act is another vital consideration. You’ll need to make sure that:

  • At least one customer compartment is no more than 4 feet (48 inches) off the floor.
  • All parcel lockers (for larger packages) are no closer to the floor than 15 inches.
  • No tenant compartment is less than 28 inches from the floor.
  • No tenant lock is over 67 inches from the floor.
  • The master lock (for the carrier) should be between 36 and 48 inches off the floor.

If you are simply replacing old mailboxes, which may include some older horizontal units and vertical units, these requirements don’t apply so long as you’re not modifying the mailbox area or buying a different type of unit.