Mailboxes may seem like the simplest thing to add to a rental property (or properties) out of all possible additions. However, mailbox choices are varied, and any property manager can find themselves struggling to choose the correct type.
Community and commercial mailboxes come in different shapes and sizes, ranging from single curbside mailboxes to sprawling centralized mail delivery systems complete with parcel lockers.
Mailbox Types: A Quick Overview
There are two main mailbox types available for commercial properties: curbside and centralized.
Mailboxes that stand on a post near a curb can come as single units or multi-unit mailboxes, in which two or more customer units share the same post.
Centralized mailboxes are any mailbox type that consists of multiple customer compartments and/or parcel lockers inside the same cabinet. These mailbox types can stand alone, recess into walls, or simply mount on walls. They are made of sturdy metal and designed for indoor and outdoor use. All of these mailboxes are designed so that the same type can mount side by side, allowing property managers to mix and match until the desired number of customer compartments and parcel lockers is met.
Consideration #1: How Many Tenants Need Mail?
The first thing any property owner or manager needs to do is tally how many tenants need mail. This is perhaps the simplest consideration.
For one to a dozen tenants, it may be feasible to provide curbside mailboxes, which can come as single units or as multi-unit types. Smaller centralized mailboxes with a few customer compartments and perhaps a parcel locker or two may also work in these situations, especially for a strip mall housing several businesses.
Consideration #2: How Far Are Tenants Willing to Travel for Mail?
Not all communities and commercial properties are the same. Some are larger than others, such as many condominium communities. Tenant types differ as well, with some communities serving retired persons and others serving families.
In some communities, walking to a central parking lot to retrieve mail from a centralized system may be too difficult for those with mobility issues. In these cases, curbside mailboxes may work better, or if centralized mail is used, it should be located very close to where vehicles may park.
For commercial properties that house businesses, installation choices tend to be limited to parking lots, curbsides, and lobbies. It is good to consider how difficult or unsafe it may be for businesses to check mail and carry packages any good distance, especially if many flights of stairs are involved. Also, the presence of sensitive mail (such as financial or medical records) may necessitate mailbox installation in a more secure location such as inside a lobby. Business tenants handling sensitive mail may not want to travel too far outdoors to check or send out mail.
Consideration #3: What Space Is Available, and Where?
Knowing which areas on a property where mailboxes can be installed is another vital step. It would be an expensive mistake to install centralized mailboxes in a location not easily reached by the USPS or by tenants, or to install too many curbside mailboxes when a centralized system would have saved on installation and maintenance costs.
Large communities and business properties may do well if a central or front-facing location is available for centralized mailboxes, provided tenants can easily access the location. The USPS must also be able to easily find this location.
If no good location is available, and there is plenty of curb space, a type of curbside mailbox may work well, too. However, some freestanding, centralized mailboxes may work if mounted on a slab of concrete near a road, especially if parcel lockers are needed and the mailboxes will take up little space.
One other thing to keep in mind is access for those with disabilities. Any space chosen for mailboxes must allow for wheelchair access, especially when seeking direct USPS delivery to those boxes. This means that three feet (36”) of space must be free in front of each customer compartment and parcel locker.
Consideration #4: How Many Packages Come In?
Package delivery is increasing overall year by year, with over 7 billion packages shipped in 2020 alone just within the USPS. This means that commercial properties and communities must accommodate for safe package delivery and work harder to prevent theft.
Parcel lockers come with USPS-approved centralized mailboxes. These units can hold all but the largest packages, and you’ll need to have one per every ten compartments if you opt for centralized, USPS delivery. (For apartments, this requirement is now one per five.)
Due to this, a centralized mailbox system may work well if no employee of the property is available to distribute packages, or if having an employee do so would cost too much time and money. The good news is that with centralized mail, more parcel lockers can be added to an existing setup over time. They can even be used to house mail from other carriers, if set up for private delivery. An employee can place packages inside these lockers and provide keys to tenants to access them at their convenience.
Consideration #5: USPS or Private Delivery?
Whether your property will need direct USPS delivery versus private delivery will help you determine which mailboxes to choose. USPS delivery means that the USPS delivers mail and packages directly to installed customer compartments and parcel lockers. Private delivery means that an employee or someone working for a property will receive mail from the USPS and possibly other carriers before distributing them among customers.
This applies mainly to centralized mailboxes. They are labeled accordingly as USPS-approved or for private delivery.
Take the Next Step Today
Once all the important factors have been considered, it is time to choose the right mailbox for your property. We are here to answer your questions and to help you make the best choice for you. Simply contact us today to get started.