Mailboxes don't just provide a convenient place to receive mail, they often help prevent identity theft by keeping important letters safely locked away while the owners are out. Mailboxes and the right of a tenant to have access to his mail are regulated by state and federal ordinances.
Under Section 1702 of the U.S. Code, it is unlawful for anyone to tamper with another person's mail. A tenant who believes his landlord is opening or otherwise inspecting the mail is entitled to report the owner to local authorities.
Some states, such as California, expressly require that each tenant have access to a lockable mailbox. The Fair Housing Act also lists access to mailboxes as one of the basic requirements for compliance with accessibility standards.
Mailboxes that are not accessible by those in wheelchairs may violate fair housing standards. The Fair Housing Act requires that such public features be built in such a way as to consider the ability for all individuals to be able to access them.