As a landlord or property owner of a new apartment or condo complex, it’s up to you to make sure each individual unit has its own mailbox. If you’re skipping the door-to-door delivery or the mailbox at the end of each walkway, that leaves you with the convenient cluster mailbox. You’ll have to determine whether to put it outside — at the end of the driveway, for example — or in, at a lobby or the management building. Both options have their benefits, but only one is the most convenient and efficient for your condo or apartment complex.
If your area has frequent bad or cold weather, your tenants will find it difficult to trek outdoors to the end of the complex entryway to get their mail. That seems to be a point in the indoor model’s favour and it definitely is — if the residents all live in one centralized building, the indoor cluster mailbox makes sense if you want tenants to avoid snow, ice, rain and cold to get their mail. However, if the units are located separately with individual outdoor entrances, they may find it easier to get to the driveway to collect their mail than go to a centralized management building.
In addition to your tenants’ convenience, consider yours. As property owner or manager, you’ll have to make sure the boxes are maintained and accessible at all times. That means brushing off snow and shovelling the walkway to the boxes if you choose the outdoor model every day that there’s snow or ice before the mail carrier arrives.
Consider the security benefit of keeping the cluster mailbox indoors: The managerial staff can keep a better eye on them and get to know the residents, making sure only authorized people are collecting their mail. However, that doesn’t mean the outdoor models are completely unsecure. As the USPS indicates, you cannot provide your tenants with unlocked or unsecured cluster mailboxes. Since the outdoor and indoor-cluster-mailbox models are both locked, they provide several benefits. In the event a key is stolen, however, the indoor surveillance provides additional security.
It’s you own an indoor complex and people pass by the lobby all the time, it makes sense to have the mail available right where people are always coming and going. If the condos are separate units, going to the centralized management building to pick up mail may be inconvenient, even in mild weather. The most convenient option for outdoor unit tenants may be individual locked mailboxes at the ends of their driveways or walkways; however, there’s more security with the cluster mailboxes, and it’s more convenient for the mail carrier.
Before you commit to any mailbox model, speak with your local USPS and see what the mail carrier who services your complex prefers. She might prefer dropping everything off near the front instead of carrying all of the mail to an indoor cluster mailbox. There may also be a local law or regulation prohibiting one type of delivery over another.
Even if you’ve owned properties in other communities, laws differ by city or county, and what applied at one location may not apply at another. In other words, you may have opted for individual mailboxes at another property, but local laws insist on outdoor cluster mailboxes for your current property. Don’t make the mistake of investing and installing the wrong type of mailboxes — only to get a notice that they’re in violation of local ordinances later; consult with the USPS and the local government before buying anything.
If your apartment or condo complex is consists primarily of one central building, indoor cluster mailboxes probably make the most sense. Separate outdoor units make a strong case for outdoor cluster mailboxes; still, you could choose an indoor model for outdoor complexes or vice versa, so long as you weigh the pros and cons of the decision, and your choice complies with local ordinances and regulations. Your complex is going to have this system in place for years to come, so choose wisely for yourself and for your tenants.