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Landlords Ask: Do You Install Cluster Mailboxes or Individual Mailboxes?

Landlords have to see that their tenants’ basic living needs are met, and that includes making sure they have easy access to their mail. If you’re in charge of setting up the mailboxes for an apartment complex whether you’re helping design a new building or what you currently have needs to be replaced consider whether to go for the cluster mailbox option or to install individual boxes in front of each apartment. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but there is a clear winner as far as apartment and condo complexes go.

The Space

Indoor complexes don’t have space for individual boxes, and you won’t find a mailbox carrier willing to walk through the entire building dropping off mail in slots, so your only choice is commercial cluster mailboxes if you’re the landlord of an indoor complex. Outdoor apartment complexes, which allow for outside entry into the individual apartments, have more flexibility in this regard. However, you still need to consider the amount of space available on the property. A cluster mailbox at the end of the driveway is a better use of space than boxes every few feet in a small area in front of the apartments.

Snow and Ice Removal

If your apartment complex has outdoor entry and there’s no central office building where tenants can easily access their mail in a cluster mailbox, you may have to worry about snow and ice removal in the winter. Go with one cluster mailbox per building in a centralized location. Then, as landlord, you only need to make sure the area in front of that cluster is clear, in addition to clearing the parking area and sidewalks.

If you give each apartment a mailbox, you’ll need a shovel or snow blower out to clear the walkway from the parking area or sidewalk to each individual mailbox etc, which will prove time consuming. If you fail to clear away the snow from each mailbox in time, not only could you be responsible for a delay in mail delivery, but you could also find yourself liable for breaking the landlord-tenant agreement.

The Law

Some areas require apartment complexes offer locked mailboxes to their tenants so only the residents, who have the individual keys to their boxes, may access their mail. Cluster commercial mailboxes frequently include individual locks, so they take care of this requirement. The mail carrier accesses them through a panel at the back, or if there are only a few, she may have a master key that lets her open each box individually.

Because of the setup of traditional individual mailboxes, you can’t include locks and expect the mail carrier to unlock them each one by one. In other words, you can’t meet the legal requirement to offer locked mailboxes with individual mailboxes. Check with local and state laws. Many metropolitan cities, such as New York City, have their own laws regarding what landlords must provide, and a locked mailbox is one of them.

The Future

As the Texas News Journal explains, you may not have a choice between cluster mailboxes and individual mailboxes in the future whether you’re an apartment complex owner or a subdivision developer. The USPS mailbox is hoping to save time on mail carriers’ routes, which will save the USPS money.

While the USPS isn’t making existing complexes or subdivisions change yet, it’ll cost less to comply now in case you have to later, and then have to redo the setup again. As long as you’re looking into switching the current mailbox setup at your apartment complex or if you’re overseeing the building of a new complex, comply with the request now to avoid additional difficulty down the line.

There are reasons for and against individual mailboxes and commercial cluster mailboxes at an apartment complex; however, it’s simpler for you as the landlord, for your tenants and for your mail carrier to choose the cluster design. Cluster box mailboxes require less maintenance and may simply be the only option you have.

About the Author:Dave Vincent works for National Mailboxes. Visit http://www.nationalmailboxes.com/commercial/ to find unbeatable deals on commercial mailboxes for your properties.

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