If you own or manage a multifamily property, there’s a good chance that it’s an apartment complex. After all, anywhere from 5 to over 25% of the population calls apartments home.
Apartment complex sizes vary, and if your property is on the medium to larger end of the spectrum, there’s also a good chance that you use, or plan to use, centralized mailboxes. These mailboxes are safe, convenient, and very durable because they consist of several customer compartments, all of which come with their own locks and keys. If your mailboxes have customer compartments like this contained in a metal cabinet, then you have centralized mailboxes.
It’s your responsibility as a property manager or owner to maintain your mailboxes, and that includes managing the keys. The good news is that there are ways to make this task easier for everyone involved.
Some Quick Facts About Centralized Mailbox Keys
- Generally, each mailbox in a centralized setup will come with, or did come with, three tenant keys for each regular compartment.
- It is the property manager’s responsibility to distribute these keys to new tenants.
- It is a good idea to keep records about who has each mailbox key. Label each set with a mailbox number or an address.
- When a tenant moves out, the property owner must retrieve the keys from the tenant.
- If keys are lost or a lock is damaged, it is the property owner’s responsibility to install a new lock and key. You can also contact the post office about lost keys, and have new locks installed for a fee.
- A property owner can also make duplicate keys for mailboxes if one or more of them is lost.
Know Where Your Keys Are
If you’ve just purchased a property, then the previous owner should have all mailbox keys kept in one spot. If you’re developing an apartment complex, you’ll need a place to store and keep track of all tenant keys.
Some good places to store tenant keys are:
- In the main office, near the front desk. Installing here can reassure tenants that you take security seriously.
- In a maintenance building if no office is available
- If you have multiple buildings, you can store tenant keys in a maintenance room or office in each one
- Near centralized mailboxes, in a secured area. Kiosks may work for this purpose.
Regardless of where you store your centralized mailbox keys, ensure you can access them at all times, because failing to give tenants their mailbox keys can obstruct the delivery of mail.
Make Key Storage Easier
Key keepers, or key control cabinets, are available for property managers. They are designed to keep keys organized for places such as gyms, locker rooms, and large properties such as apartment complexes. Key keepers can mount onto vertical surfaces and are great for indoor use. Avoid using key keepers outdoors, and install them in a supervised location.
- Key capacities ranging from 30 to over 700 keys
- Wall mount design perfect for locations such as maintenance rooms and offices
- Number tags for each key, to make sorting and tracking keys easier
- Tags can include a person’s name and date the key is given
- Cabinets are for private use, meaning non-USPS use
- Sturdy metal construction and a master lock help to prevent theft and vandalism
- Units can mount side by side, allowing property managers to meet all tenant needs
- Design helps to prevent keys from getting lost, and helps prevent the need to order new keys and locks
What About Parcel Locker Keys?
Many centralized mailboxes come with parcel lockers for packages, and they’re larger than normal mailboxes. As a property owner, you will not have to worry about parcel locker keys, though you’re responsible for maintaining the parcel lockers themselves.
The USPS handles parcel locker keys, as well as the delivery of these keys to customers when a package is delivered to the locker. The USPS will place the key in the tenant’s mailbox, and when the tenant uses the key in the locker, the lock will retain the key until retrieval by the post office on the next business day.
Another key controlled by the USPS is the master lock. If you already have centralized mailboxes, the USPS already has the key to the master lock and will use this lock to access all units at once. If you need to do maintenance on the unit, you may need the USPS’s assistance to open the master lock.
Need Help with Key Management?
If you’re in the market for a good way to keep track of your tenant keys, you can contact National Mailboxes. We specialize in centralized mailboxes and their accessories and can help you find the right solution for your apartment complex.