If you run a multi-family property or business property, you know that the safe handling and delivery of mail is a major priority for all tenants. After all, mail can contain financial information, important packages, legal correspondence, and other important things that no resident or business wants to miss.
Safety and maintenance is a major concern that tenants of all types consider when choosing, or choosing to remain at, a certain property.
Your mailboxes are a part of that equation, and they can also add property value and curb appeal. However, safety and attractiveness depend on which type of mailboxes you use, particularly the type of commercial mailboxes you provide. Some models are more secure and attractive than others, which can show wear and tear and even be discontinued altogether by their manufacturer.
How can you tell if you have an outdated or discontinued mailbox? And what should you do if this is the case?
A Note on Commercial Mailboxes for USPS Delivery. Here, commercial mailboxes refer to the centralized types, where multiple customer compartments are contained in a single, metal cabinet. There are several different types. Compartments usually have locks, and each customer has a key. They may or may not come with extras such as parcel lockers, mail slots, and trash flaps.
Commercial mailboxes can be used for private or USPS delivery. Those meant for USPS delivery must meet more rigid security requirements than private mailboxes.
The 2006 STD-4C Requirements. Today, all newly purchased and installed centralized mailboxes must meet a specific set of USPS requirements if they will be used for direct post office delivery. These post office requirements were adopted in 2006 and are still in use today. An exception exists when retrofitting older mailbox types (in the 4B series) to replace damaged units, but no other major renovations can take place, and the mailboxes must be installed in the same location.
All 4C series mailboxes must follow the ADA to allow everyone access, must be accessible at all times, and must be kept free of obstructions. One parcel locker per ten customer compartments is also required. However, a change was made in 2020 to the STD-4C requirement, so that property owners must provide at least one parcel locker (for packages) per every five customer compartments in apartment complexes.
Mailboxes have been improving in design in recent years, meaning that you may have older 4B mailboxes, or even 4C mailboxes that are now discontinued in favor of other models. Here’s how you can tell.
What Do Outdated, Centralized Mailboxes Look Like? If you have an older property, there’s a good chance the mailboxes are outdated. If they were installed before 2006 and receive USPS delivery, it is a good idea to check them for maintenance and security issues.
Some outdated mailboxes are easy to find. The older, 4B horizontal mailboxes of all types tended to have square compartments, versus the more rectangular, horizontal ones found in newer mailboxes. In many cases, outdated 4B mailboxes will have worn paint and possibly exposed metal, as they lack the more durable powder finishes that are present in the newer, 4C mailboxes. Some models may not have a finish at all and may be suffering from other wear due to their age.
Vertical compartments are another sign of an outdated mailbox. These mailboxes typically hang on or in walls and have locker-like doors which are taller than they are wide. Most often, they’re found in apartment complexes, and may also have worn paint or even broken parts. These mailboxes can still be purchased, but only to replace another mailbox of the same exact type.
Vertical mailboxes don’t have many compartments, requiring postal employees to visit many cabinets to deposit mail in a large complex. If this is the case, consider replacing your mail system with a single centralized one if your tenants are able to walk to a central location.
A few 4C models are discontinued in favor of more secure and easily installed models. Some pedestal mailboxes are now discontinued and have been replaced by freestanding models. Pedestal mailboxes are common outdoors and have a mailbox cabinet mounted on a single pedestal, which must in turn be mounted on a slab of concrete. Freestanding mailboxes utilize the same concept, except the cabinet itself acts as the pedestal while holding the customer compartments.
If You Have Outdated Mailboxes. Outdated mailboxes are common, and the good news is that they can be replaced with newer, more attractive models that will keep your tenants happy while attracting new ones. Today’s 4C mailboxes are also more resistant to weathering, vandalism, and other damage than their older counterparts, greatly reducing the chance of mail theft. 4C mailboxes also allow for safe package delivery and slots for outgoing mail.
Getting new centralized mailboxes will also provide the opportunity for other renovations, such as creating an attractive mail kiosk. Recessed, wall-mounted, and recessed 4C mailboxes are designed to fit into spaces such as lobbies, outdoor kiosks, under some higher counters, or simply side by side. Creativity can help to create an attractive mail area that will further improve your property’s look and value.
Before ordering new mailboxes, it’s important to consider the needs of your tenants, and to choose a central or forward-facing location that is always accessible. Be sure to choose an area without obstructions, and an area that is easy to clean of ice and snow. Adding lighting to a mail station is also very helpful, as this will deter vandalism and allow your customers or tenants to check their mail during nighttime hours.
Have Questions? If you aren’t sure if you have an outdated mail station or set of mailboxes, we are here to help. Contact us at National Mailboxes with questions about your mail setup, and we can help you decide which new mailboxes would work the best for your community or commercial property.