Mailboxes may not seem like a topic of concern, but it turns out landlords have a few requirements they need to keep in mind.
USPS Mailbox Regulations
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has outlined certain regulations for mailboxes.
All manufactured mailboxes should meet the USPS requirements for dimensions. As of 2001, the minimum and maximum dimensions are:
- Length: approximately 18 9⁄16 to 22 13⁄16 inches
- Width: 6 1⁄4 to 11 inches
- Height: 6 to 15 inches
Keep these important specifications in mind:
- Mailboxes must be placed on the right-hand side of the street, facing outward.
- The box number or address must be shown on the mailbox in numbers/letters that are at least 1 inch tall, either on the front or flag-side of the mailbox.
- Mailboxes must be placed 6 to 8 inches away from the curb; the slot or door must be 41 to 45 inches from the ground.
- Mailbox posts should be buried no more than 24 inches deep.
Some homes and apartments have a slot in the door for receiving mail rather than a mailbox. The standards for an approved door slot according to the USPS are:
- The opening must be at least 1 1⁄2 inches x 7 inches.
- The bottom of the slot must be at least 30 inches above the floor.
- Horizontal slots must have a flap hinged at the top.
- Vertical slots must be hinged on the opposite side from the door’s hinges.
There are no specifications for wall-mounted mailboxes. However, you should ensure that it is easily accessible and visible to the mail carrier from your porch, driveway, etc.
Tenants’ Mailbox Rights
Tenants have the right to receiving mail securely. A landlord may not interfere with the delivery of a tenant’s mail, nor are they allowed to look through a tenant’s mailbox.
According to Section 1702 of the U.S. Code, it is illegal for anyone to tamper with someone else’s mail. If a tenant has reason to believe their landlord is tampering with their mail, they have every right to report the individual to local authorities.
The Fair Housing Act requires certain public features to be made accessible to individuals with disabilities. If your tenant has a disability, make sure to make reasonable modifications to the mailbox if they are unable to retrieve their mail with ease.
Some states, like California, require landlords to provide tenants with a lockable mailbox. If the lease agreement explicitly states that the tenant will be provided with a lockable mailbox, the landlord must also provide the tenant with the appropriate key. Keep in mind that the landlord is allowed to have a copy of the key, given that it is their property. However, it is illegal for a landlord to look through your mailbox or open your mail.
If a landlord does not have a key for the lockable mailbox, they may require a tenant to contact the USPS and retrieve it. The landlord may also require the tenant to pay the fee that the USPS charges for a new mailbox key.
It’s standard practice to provide a tenant with a mailbox on a residential property and the US Code Title 18 states that it is a misdemeanor or felony to obstruct or delay the delivery of mail. That being said, not all states or dwellings legally require landlords to provide mailboxes for tenants.
However, if a tenant asks to install a mailbox on the property, the landlord must not refuse (unless there is, for instance, a requirement to obtain a P.O. box clearly stated in the lease). If a tenant rents a unit that has a mailbox, and suddenly there is not one, the tenant may have grounds to report the landlord.