White letter inserted in silver cluster mailbox

If you’re a landlord or a housing developer, it's important to know the requirements for mailboxes for apartment complexes. These requirements are set by the United States Postal Service (USPS). Any non-compliance could land you in some trouble.

Below we take a look at some of the laws, regulations, and other considerations to take into account when purchasing mailboxes for an apartment complex. 

USPS Laws And Regulations For Apartment Mailboxes

The USPS services most apartment and office buildings in the United States. As a result, apartment mailboxes must comply with very specific codes and regulations to be USPS Approved.

These codes and regulations are enforced to ensure safety and efficiency when it comes to mail delivery. To prevent costly fines for non-compliance or spending a small fortune on redesign and reinstallation costs, following the USPS laws and regulations is key.

The codes and regulations that apply to apartment buildings are called 4C standards, named after the most common type of mailbox installed in apartment buildings: 4C mailboxes. These apartment mailboxes are USPS Approved and include parcel lockers and drop boxes.

Here are some of the essential 4C standards landlords need to comply with: 

Height Limits 

There are height limitations when it comes to the installation of apartment mailboxes. The apartment mailboxes must be between 48 and 67 inches above the finished floor just below the mailbox location.

Locked mailboxes, however, should not be higher than 67 inches or lower than 28 inches from the floor. This requirement differs when it comes to parcel lockers. When installing a parcel locker, you can do so not less than 15 inches from the floor.

Mail Compartment Size 

Apartment mailboxes can be an array of shapes and sizes. The only restriction is that the mailbox cannot be smaller than 3 inches high, 12 inches wide, and 15 inches deep. 

Parcel Lockers Per 10 Mailbox Compartments

The USPS guidelines also provide that in addition to the mailboxes for each apartment, landlords should also provide parcel lockers. However, it's not necessary to install a parcel locker for every apartment.

The USPS guidelines provide that for every 10 mailboxes, you should install at least one parcel locker for packages. So, if you have 50 mailboxes, you should install 10 parcel lockers to ensure compliance. If you installed a further 50 mailboxes then you would have to install another 20 parcel lockers.

Further, the rules and regulations relating to parcel lockers provide that landlords should place them near the entrance of the apartment block. They should also be easily accessible to the deliverer. 

Black Cluster Mailboxes with red labels

Postal Carrier Access

The mail carrier must have access to the mailboxes. As such, landlords must install the authorized arrow lock. This must be placed between 36 and 48 inches from the floor.

The landlord must also provide the mail carrier with a key so that he/she can have access to the locked foyer with the USPS mailboxes.

Numbering And Labels

Numbering and labeling the mailboxes for apartments is essential to be USPS Approved. 

Usually, the recipient's name and apartment number are sufficient. But, the building management is responsible for ensuring that the labels are current and up to date to avoid mail falling into the wrong hands.

Lockable Mailboxes 

It is not a requirement in every state to provide a lockable mailbox for tenants. However, some states, such as California, do require that landlords provide lockable mailboxes.

So, if you do choose to provide a lockable mailbox, there are some guidelines that you need to follow.

For example, if the mailbox is lockable, the landlord must provide the tenant with a working key. The landlord may also have a copy, but must not under any circumstances tamper with the tenant's mail.

In the instance where there is no key available, then the tenant may phone the USPS to receive a key, but the tenant is liable for these costs.

ADA Compliance  

The USPS is not the only body that requires compliance. Landlords also need to comply with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) when installing apartment mailboxes. 

Section 309 of the Act requires compliance with certain guidelines pertaining to: 

  • Clear floor space 
  • Height specifications 
  • Operation requirements 

Further, to be ADA compliant, at least 5% of indoor mailboxes must meet accessibility guidelines. However, some local regulations may require 100% compliance. 

The ADA provides for sequential numbering rather than matching identification to certain mailboxes. This allows greater flexibility and accessibility. 

Is It Time For A Mailbox Update?

Horizontal Mailboxes

These were the most common mailboxes for apartments before 2006. However, if you are thinking of installing horizontal mailboxes in your apartment building, you may have some compliance issues.

The USPS has since updated its regulations to account for larger mail and parcels received by tenants.

When it comes to private delivery, however, these are not a problem. But, if the USPS services your apartment building, it may be time for an upgrade.

Vertical Mailboxes 

Once a common mailbox used by apartment buildings, vertical mailboxes may now have compliance issues. While these mailboxes are still used, the USPS guidelines state they are only compliant as a one-to-one replacement.

In other words, vertical mailboxes are only compliant when replacing non-compliant or outdated apartment mailboxes. So, they may never be used or approved for any new construction projects.

USPS Approved Cluster Mailboxes 

A great option is the USPS Approved cluster apartment mailboxes. These mailboxes are essential for a centralized mail delivery system. They also function well in an indoor or outdoor space.

These cluster box units come with eight to sixteen doors and are usually mounted on a pedestal. They include a postal master lock, collection boxes, and key keepers. The cluster box is ideal for both USPS delivery and private postal service. 

Silver old school wall mounted cluster mailboxes with Chinese lettering

Final Thoughts  

If you are a landlord or property developer, you must be aware of all the USPS guidelines both when installing mailboxes as well as maintaining them.

Mailbox installation is not an area to cut any corners. Several important rules and regulations require compliance or you may risk a fine or criminal record.

So, be sure to reach out to mailbox professionals so that you are aware of all the essential factors when installing mailboxes for an apartment building.

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