If you have centralized mailboxes or are planning to install them for your property, complex, or business, you’re likely wondering about how to make them easily accessible. This is especially true if your property and tenants will be getting direct USPS delivery to their compartments, but location is also important for centralized mailboxes that will get private delivery. After all, no one likes not being able to easily get their mail!
Below are some tips on how to improve customer access to their mail compartments (which will be the type of mailbox available for all centralized mailboxes.) Remember that centralized mailboxes, no matter how they’re mounted, include two or more locking customer compartments inside a single cabinet, and are usually mounted side by side.
When thinking of accessibility, first remember that:
- Centralized mailboxes must be available for access 24/7 if they receive direct USPS delivery.
- Provide at least one parcel locker per ten compartments for non-apartment installations. New installations in apartments require one parcel locker for every five compartments.
- Mailboxes must be always free of obstructions, including vehicles, ice, wires, and other potential hazards.
- It is the property owner’s responsibility to repair or replace damaged mailboxes and parts, or the USPS may not deliver. This will help to prevent mail theft and fraud.
- Centralized mailboxes must be installed in an easy-to-find location such as the front of a property, a clubhouse, near a parking lot, a lobby, or a central plaza. In a college setting, a central corridor will work well.
Improving Vehicle Access
Depending on which type of property you have, you may have your centralized mailboxes near a parking lot, or a front entrance to a community. In this case, tenants may drive to the mailboxes to check their mail or stop with their vehicle on the way to their work site or home.
If your tenants are mainly using their vehicles to check their mail, you should be sure of the following:
- Ensure that tenants will not obstruct mailboxes while parking. Do not place your mailboxes close to the road, as this can block traffic and prevent others from checking mail. Mailboxes too close to a road can also put pedestrians at risk.
- Also, do not place mailboxes too far from the road, as they may be difficult to walk to for some, and harder for tenants and the USPS to find.
- If possible, provide designated parking spots for those checking mail, and mark them as mail parking only. This approach works well for kiosks as well, provided you have space to pour parking spaces.
- A pull-off may help residents get off the road long enough to check their mail without blocking traffic or the units themselves.
- Be sure your mailboxes are clearly marked and easy to see, and trim back any excess vegetation.
- Use an overhang or roof for your mailboxes to protect your tenants from the weather, and don’t forget to add extra lighting for safety if necessary.
Improving Foot Access
Of course, there are several situations where customers will be getting their mail outdoors, but on foot. You may even have a setup where customers can drive to or walk to their mailboxes.
- Take care that your mailboxes are on a level surface to prevent tripping, such as a concrete slab or near a sidewalk. All customer compartments should be facing a sidewalk or concrete surface that’s extends least 36 inches from the unit. No one should need to stand on grass, rocks, or potentially muddy ground to check mail.
- Check that your mailboxes are near the center of a property, or near the front, and that no one needs to walk more than a block to retrieve their mail.
- Mailboxes should be a in well-lit, easy to find location.
- Place your mailboxes away from steep hills that may make walking difficult for some.
- Keep walks and nearby parking spaces free of snow and ice.
- Avoid installation in areas that are prone to flooding.
- Ensure corridors and lobbies have enough space to prevent obstructions and crowding.
- Avoid or cover sharp corners that customers could run into, especially when using wall-mounted mailboxes.
- Provide adequate lighting and leave doors to the mailbox area unlocked at all times.
Access For Mobility Issues and Disabilities
In some cases, many of your customers may have difficulty walking or driving to a mailbox location to pick up mail. In other cases, your customers will have disabilities that make checking the mail more difficult unless you provide accommodations.
Regardless, you will need to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act when installing mailboxes for USPS delivery, and should use it as a guideline for private delivery as well.
To Improve Accessibility for All:
- Make sure at least 1 in 20 (5%) of mailboxes are below 48 inches from the floor for wheelchair access.
- Keep three feet of space available in front of each compartment at all times.
- No customer compartment can be higher than 67 inches from the floor or ground.
- No compartment can be lower than 28 inches from the floor or ground.
- Parcel lockers can be located 15 inches above the floor or flat surface, but no lower.
- USPS-approved mailboxes are built to meet these requirements, so if you meet one, you will likely meet all of them when you install your unit. However, double-check to be safe.
- Extra care may need to be taken when installing centralized mailboxes meant for private delivery to ensure that accessibility needs are met.
- If you have many residents with mobility issues, consider installing centralized mailboxes in multiple places, such as in front of each apartment building, to reduce the walk needed to check mail. Senior communities may require such a setup.
Accessibility Questions? If you are still deciding on which centralized mailbox to purchase for your property, reach out to us at National Mailboxes. The type of mailbox you choose will help determine the best location for installation and accessibility choices, and vice versa.