In most areas, landlords are required by law to provide their tenants with secure, private mailboxes. But don’t just help your tenants protect the privacy of their mail because it’s the law. Do it because it’s the right thing to do — and because it will make you seem like a better landlord in your tenant’s eyes. Tenants are more likely to renew their leases if they think of you as a helpful and kind landlord, and even if they don’t, they’ll recommend you to their friends and relatives who are looking for apartments and houses to rent.
Whether your tenants live in an apartment building or a subdivision, cluster mailboxes are the best way to make sure they have secure mailboxes. Cluster mailboxes keep mail safe, and they’re now a USPS requirement for apartment buildings and subdivisions. Noncompliance with USPS mailbox regulations could prompt the postal service to stop delivering your tenants’ mail — and that’s not a good way to keep them happy.
Cluster mailboxes have long been a familiar sight in the foyers of apartment buildings, and now they’re a requirement in new subdivisions. These mailboxes save the struggling USPS money, since they eliminate the need for a postman to spend time going from door to door in every subdivision. Nor will the post office allow you to install individual locking boxes that a postal carrier has to unlock one at a time. The mailbox you install must meet USPS guidelines. While many postal customers worry that cluster mailboxes compromise their privacy, cluster mailboxes are in fact more secure than curbside mailboxes.
When you install a cluster mailbox in your apartment building or subdivision, you’ll see that while
each individual box has its own key, it’s also possible for the postal worker to open up the entire front or back of the box, depending on its design. This allows the postal carrier to deposit the mail, which stays safely locked up until your tenant comes along and opens his or her individual box with a key. Most individual curbside boxes, on the other hand, don’t lock at all. They’re vulnerable to vandalism and theft. Cluster boxes, as you can see, are a better bet for protecting postal customers’ privacy.
But how do customers receive packages? Cluster box units include a parcel box; if your tenant receives a parcel that’s too big for his or her box, the postal carrier will leave a key for the parcel box in the tenant’s mailbox. The tenant can then open the parcel box, remove the parcel, and return the key by leaving it in the parcel box. If the parcel is too big for the parcel box, your tenant will have to go to the designated post office branch to retrieve it.
Cluster boxes don’t just make life easier for postal carriers and your tenants; they make life easier for you, too. Many states and municipalities require landlords to keep snow and ice cleared away from tenant mailboxes. Using a cluster mailbox means you only have to clear snow and ice away from one mailbox, instead of shoveling sidewalks and dumping salt throughout your subdivision.
While cluster mailboxes can do a lot to keep tenants’ mail safe and secure, you should also encourage your tenants to properly forward their mail when they move in or out of one of your units. Include USPS change of address instructions in your move-in and move-out packets so your tenants’ mail follows them in a timely fashion. Remind your tenants that failing to forward mail can leave them vulnerable to identity theft and cause them to miss important correspondence. By making sure your tenants forward their mail, you can also ensure that current and former tenants have no contact.
Providing your tenants with a safe mailbox is your legal responsibility as a landlord — and it’s the right thing to do. Keep your tenants happy, and you’ll be more likely to enjoy steady rental income from individuals who are content to remain in your units for years on end.