What are the Laws for Apartment Dwellers' Mailboxes?

By Lynne Haley Rose - Updated January 29, 2018
Key with private mailbox at the condo

The United States Postal Service regulates apartment dwelling mailboxes. Apartment owners or landlords, as well apartment tenants, may need to know laws surrounding mailboxes in their complex to ensure delivery and avoid breaking federal laws. The postal service requires all mail receptacles selected for apartment houses to be USPS-approved prior to installation.

USPS Approval

USPS does not consider door slots or unlocked bins as acceptable for apartment mail delivery; in fact, it requires apartment receptacles to be secure from theft. Revisions to mailbox design laws may allow for different styles of wall mounted mail receptacles when an apartment complex is being renovated or is newly built. Locking mailboxes, such as those required for apartment buildings, must have mail slots large enough to accommodate an average day's mail plus larger envelopes and small parcels. When relocating or adding to a current block of tenant mailboxes, the post office requires apartment owners to update existing boxes to comply with their current regulations.

Maintenance and Accessibility

Apartment mailboxes must be properly maintained to ensure they are accessible for delivery and in good working order. Mailbox areas must be free of clutter such as tenants' moving boxes or bicycles that might interfere with the mail carrier's access to the boxes. Excessive clutter may delay mail delivery. Also, USPS requires boxes to be in good repair and properly mounted. A mail carrier is within USPS regulations when choosing not deliver to a bank of mailboxes that has fallen from the wall or has been severely damaged.

Parcels

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us mail slot image by jimcox40 from Fotolia.com

Instituted in 2007, USPS STD-4C regulatory updates have increased the per-unit size requirement for apartment mailboxes from 3 inches by 12 inches to 12 inches by 15 inches, in keeping with the increased package traffic resulting from catalog and online shopping trends. USPS also has instituted a requirement of one parcel locker per 10 mailboxes for apartment dwellers. The parcel holding areas must be secure from vandalism or theft. To reduce unreasonable expense, USPS requires landlords to comply with these updates only when moving, replacing, or adding to existing mail receptacles.

Outgoing Mail

To make mail drop-off convenient to apartment tenants, USPS STD-4C requires landlords provide an outgoing mail receptacle near the mailbox area. The receptacle must be secure to prevent theft.

About the Author

I have an MFA degree in Creative Writing and am a published poet who has received several poetry awards. I have established a reputation as an environmental activist, both through the group I co-founded -- see alternativeone.org -- and through a series of op-ed pieces in Montana newspapers. I have written extensively on alternative energy, recycling and endangered species.

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