Ah, the joys of troubleshooting the issues that come up while running apartment complexes and other multi-family properties. Leaks, cracked sidewalks, lighting issues, and mail complaints are all common things that a property manager will need to address when it comes to preventing too much tenant turnover and losing money.
Mail complaints are one of the most common complaints that tenants can have. This is because mail complaints are related to many other common issues that arise in apartments: maintenance requests, safety, privacy, and convenience.
This quick guide will give you ideas on how to tackle common mail complaints, and the issues that are most often related to them.
What They Are: Maintenance requests are any resident complaints that have to do with the physical state of your mail delivery system, typically your mailboxes or the mail delivery area.
If a resident informs you about a broken mailbox lock, a mail door that won’t close correctly, graffiti, dents, or other damage to your mailbox system, then you have a maintenance request.
As the property owner/manager, you’re responsible for the upkeep and function of your property’s mailboxes.
Maintenance requests are the most common resident complaint, and unavoidable, but responding to them quickly will earn you tenant satisfaction and a much lower chance of the dreaded tenant turnover. Most often, these issues can be easily fixed by you or an employee of your property. For centralized mailboxes, which are common in apartments, new doors and locks can be quickly ordered and replaced with no special training necessary. Extra tenant keys can also be purchased with new locks and replaced.
It’s also possible to easily paint over graffiti on some mailboxes. Many centralized mailboxes do have a powder coat finish which makes some types of graffiti more difficult, but it should pay to have some spare paint just in case.
The good news is that the newer lines of centralized mailboxes, especially the 4C lines, are more resistant to damage than in the past, making them less likely to incur maintenance requests. Curbside and wall-mounted mailboxes are more vulnerable, though they cost less.
Privacy Concerns and Mail Theft
What They Are: Mail theft usually happens to packages but can include regular mail such as envelopes as well. Because regular mail and packages can include information about residents they’d rather keep private (such as sensitive financial information,) mail theft can easily lead to a violation of privacy, which can drive out tenants from your property quickly.
No one likes having their privacy violated. If you receive complaints about missing mail and package theft, act quickly and calmly. Note that this is also a common problem: in 2022 alone, about 14% of US residents reported package theft.
Here are some steps to follow if a tenant reports mail or package theft:
- Ask the tenant to be certain that theft occurred. Have your tenant check with the shipping company and review tracking info. It’s also worth checking with your tenants’ neighbors to ensure the package wasn’t delivered to the wrong address. This last issue can be common in areas where all apartment doors look the same, or with some forms of centralized mail delivery.
- If an employee delivers packages directly to residents, check with that employee to ensure the package went to the right place.
- If you conclude that theft is likely, it’s time to look into better security for mail or packages. There’s a good chance that your mailbox system needs upgrading. If you use curbside or wall-mounted boxes, consider upgrading to centralized mailboxes (which lock) or to locking curbside and wall-mounted models. If packages are going missing, strongly consider adding parcel lockers to your property, which store packages until residents can pick them up.
- If you opt for parcel lockers, note that those you’re using for direct USPS delivery will only accept USPS packages, while other carriers will drop off packages on porches or in front of doors. You can help this issue by using lockers for private delivery (by having an employee deliver all packages to them before notifying residents) or by keeping packages in a secure area for pickup. However, keeping packages for pickup can be inconvenient for residents and staff, depending on the hours your secure area will be open and staffed.
What They Are: Safety issues can arise when residents face obstructions while checking mail, such as ice, low lighting, or tripping hazards. All mailboxes must be accessible to residents 24/7 and be safe to access.
Don’t ignore resident safety complaints. This can lead to injuries and the issues that will arise after.
- Ensure that the lighting around your mailboxes is good. This is not only to deter crime, but to assist residents with sensory or balance issues. Install lighting around your mailboxes if none already exists. Immediately fix any lights that are out.
- Ensure your mailboxes have even ground around them. Don’t build mailboxes on a slope or in an area with tripping hazards such as rocks.
- If necessary, install security cameras. Porch pirates don’t like good lighting and security cameras, and using both can help to deter vandalism and package theft.
- Don’t park vehicles or other items in front of your mailboxes. Keep each unit clear by about 36 inches to ensure wheelchair access as well.
- During bad weather, keep your mailbox area clear and dry. This means salting if necessary to prevent ice and using overhangs or kiosk roofs to keep rain and moisture off your mailboxes (and residents.) You can also place your mailboxes in an interior area such as a clubhouse to prevent weather-related safety issues.
National Mailboxes is here to help you ensure that your residents are happy with mail delivery, safety, and privacy. We offer many secure centralized mailbox types, as well as locks, doors, keys, and other parts necessary for good maintenance. Contact us today if you have questions, inquiries, or concerns.