All mailboxes are prone to damage at some point - whether it's usual and expected wear and tear, bad weather, or vandalism. However, curbside residential mailboxes are the most vulnerable when it comes to weather and motor vehicles.
Regardless of how your mailbox broke, the most important thing is to repair or replace the mailbox as soon as possible to ensure your mail delivery continues as normal.
If your mailbox is in need of repairs but you’re not sure who is responsible or how to go about it, we’ve got you covered. Below, we outline who is responsible for broken mailboxes so that you can get yours fixed ASAP.
Who Is Responsible For Broken Mailboxes?
If your mail box needs repairs, maintenance, or replacing, you may want to ascertain who the responsible party is. Is it the landlord, homeowner, or the United States Postal Service?
Many residents automatically think the USPS should provide assistance. However, this is not always the case.
The party responsible for maintenance and repairs will depend on a number of factors, such as the type of mailbox.
Curbside Residential Mailboxes
If you are a residential property owner with a curbside mailbox, then you may be responsible for the installation and maintenance of your mailbox.
It's always best to verify whether the United States Postal Service owns the mailbox. If this is the case, then you will contact your local post office for repairs. However, if this is not the case, then you as the property owner are responsible for maintenance and repairs.
Curbside mailboxes are especially prone to damage so it's best to always keep an eye on them to prevent your local post office from halting service. Luckily, the nature of curbside mail boxes means they are easy to replace. You can choose to replace the whole mailbox or simply do some minor repairs.
Cluster mailboxes are common in Homeowner Associations (HOAs) and multi-unit apartment buildings. They are also known as the 'community's mailbox' and make mail delivery for apartment blocks far easier and cheaper for the mail carrier. This is because they do not have to go door-to-door.
But, when it comes to cluster mailboxes, who has the responsibility of repairing any damage? Is it the tenant's landlord, HOA board, or the USPS?
While the post office has in some instances stepped in to repair or replace a cluster mailbox, this is not normally the case. In this regard, the USPS official rule book states that “purchase, installation, and maintenance of mail receptacles are the responsibility of the customer.”
So, when it comes to repairing a cluster mailbox it's best not to approach the USPS.
HOA Or Residents
Check the HOA's conditions and restrictions to ascertain whether the responsibility and expense fall on them. The HOA's constitution should set out who is or isn't responsible and under what specific situation.
However, if the constitution makes no mention of this or the repair falls outside the ambit of the rules, then you may want to approach your landlord to discuss the repair.
If the damage is due to the tenant’s fault, however, they may have to pay to repair the cluster box themself.
Replacing Locks And Keys Of A Parcel Locker
Many cluster mailboxes in an apartment complex have locking features installed for safety and privacy. Locked mailboxes are great but, what happens if you lose the key or damage the lock and the letter carrier can no longer deliver mail?
First, you need to determine who owns the mailbox. If it is the USPS, then you need to reach out to your local office. If the cluster mailbox is privately owned, then the landlord or apartment complex is responsible for replacing a lost or broken key or a damaged lock.
For more information, see our article: How to open a mailbox without a key.
Will Mail Still Be Delivered If The Mailbox Is Broken?
The short answer is no, you will not receive mail if your box is damaged or broken. The USPS will inform you that your mailbox is unserviceable and thereafter they will hold your mail at the local post office for 2 weeks.
If you do not fix the mailbox within this time then the post office may/can return the mail as undeliverable and return the letter to the sender.
What To Do If Your Mailbox Is Broken
Act Quickly And Assess The Damage
First things first, you need to assess the damage to the box. Is it completely broken or is the box in need of a small fix? If you are unsure, ask yourself whether the postal service will still have access to the box to deliver the mail? If the answer is no, then you may need to replace the whole box.
At this stage, you should also determine whose responsibility it is to fix the mailbox. If you are a tenant, you may want to contact your landlord. If you own the property, then you are responsible for replacing or fixing the mailbox.
Order And Assemble The Parts
The next step is to order the new mailbox unit or the necessary parts to fix the mailbox. Once the parts arrive, assemble them and ensure that you still meet all the postal service requirements. Replace your address stickers if needed and make sure all components are working.
Report Mailbox Vandalism
Lastly, if you think your mailbox may have been vandalized or purposefully damaged then you need to report it. Vandalism of a mailbox is a federal offense taken very seriously by USPS. So, be sure to report this to your local post office or contact the postal inspection service.
If your mail is not delivered because of a damaged or broken mailbox, you could miss out on important correspondence.
That's why it's best that you have your mailbox up and running as soon as possible. It may be overwhelming at first, but if you follow this easy guide, you will have your mailbox fixed in no time!
******It is always recommended to contact your local postmaster prior to installation. While most of our mailboxes are USPS-approved your local postmaster may have specific preferences in terms of mailbox types and installation location******