Landlords’ Mailbox Requirements

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.

Curbside Mailboxes

All manufactured mailboxes should meet the USPS requirements for dimensions. As of 2001, the minimum and maximum dimensions are:

  • Length: approximately 18 916 to 22 1316 inches
  • Width: 6 14 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.
Door Slots

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 12 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.
Wall-Mounted Mailboxes

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.

Tampering

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.

Accessibility

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.

Lockable Mailboxes

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.

No Mailbox

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.

Jaleesa Bustamante

31 Comments

  • You state, “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).” What is your citation for this statement? You also state that “a tenant has a right to receive mail securely.” Is there an absolute right that a tenant must be allowed to receive mail at the premises, absent the previously mentioned contract reference? What is your source? Thank you.

    • The majority of this information was obtained from the United States Postal Service (USPS). Unless otherwise stated explicitly in the lease, a tenant has every right to receive mail at their property. Mailboxes belong to the USPS, not the homeowner, and it is an individual’s legal right to easily receive mail. If one interferes with this, it can be considered breaking the law, since it is illegal to obstruct or delay the delivery of mail.

    • You may have grounds to take legal action. Talk to your landlord as soon as possible. It’s illegal for someone to obstruct tor delay the delivery of correspondence. Remind your landlord that the mailbox belongs to the USPS, not them.

  • None of the residents in my apartment complex, and the mail man, have access to our mail boxes. The area has been roped off because of maintainence painting in the area. We can’t pick up our mail, and the mail man can’t deliver mail. Is this Ok? They didn’t tell anyone before they did it. I went to pick up my mail 2 days ago and the area is completely blocked off. I called the managers office and they said they didn’t know about any painting. I called again today and they said we would have access after 4pm. I went there after 6 and the area was still closed, of course, the office is closed and now it’s the weekend. i guess we’re not getting mail this weekend either.

    • This is definitely not okay! It’s illegal for someone to delay or obstruct the delivery of mail, and that’s exactly what they are doing. The managers of your apartment complex have to give you access to your mail one way or another. Make sure to contact them as soon as possible and remind them of the legal requirements for mail.

  • I have a mailbox that needs new keys per the management. However, when I ask about when the new keys will be available they state that it is a “low priority” and no time frame is given for when the keys will be available. What disturbs me more however, is that the leasing agents solution is to give me the MASTER key for the mailboxes. The master will open ALL of the mailboxes, this seems like it should be illegal to hand over the master key. Additionally, this means that if he is offering to give me the master key, then who else has he offered it to and in turn who else might tamper with mine or anyone else’s mailbox?! Is giving out the master key legal?

    • Giving out a master key is not legal! If you are being provided with a lockable mailbox, you should also be provided with the proper key. Having a key that can open everyone else’s mailbox is not okay, since it’s illegal to go through someone else’s mail and tamper with mailboxes. Make sure you contact management and remind them about the laws surrounding mail and mailboxes. It’s also illegal to obstruct or delay the delivery of mail, so claiming that giving out new keys is a “low priority” is definitely a problem.

  • Hello. My parents’ landlord did not want to instal a mailbox for their unit. (They live on a basement apartment, landlord on first floor with his family). Therefore they both share the same mailbox. Recently the landlord complained because I was receiving mail at their address. This is because old, outdated correspondence keeps getting forwarded to their place. Can a tenant receive mail for someone else as a “care of”, and also can a landlord control the correspondence that goes into ones mailbox and demand things like who gets to receive mail and how many people on a specific mailbox? Also, does the state of Massachusetts requires landlords to provide or allow a tenant to have a separate mailbox? Thanks so much for this info!

    • Hi there! A tenant receiving mail “in care of” someone else is completely okay, as long as the mail is addressed properly. Make sure that it is clear that the mail is being delivered to a person in care of someone else. A landlord cannot “control” the correspondence that goes into your mailbox because it’s YOUR mail! All tenants are entitled to a safe and efficient way of receiving mail. A landlord isn’t necessarily provided to give you the mailbox, unless otherwise specified in the lease. However, if you would like to have a separate mailbox, the landlord should allow you to install one. The only instance where this might not be possible is if you are residing in an illegal rental unit.

  • Hello! Quick question! My mailbox lock is broken and I’m now unable to securely receive my mail. I submitted a maintenance request but my landlord said to call USPS and that they aren’t allowed to touch the mail box. Is that true? To me, the landlord not doing anything to help me is “obstructing or delaying the delivery of mail”. Any advice? I’ve been on hold with USPS for 20 minutes trying to talk to someone, and the “email” option on the website doesn’t actually work…

    • Hello! Unless your lease explicitly states that your landlord or the HOA is responsible for mailbox maintenance and repairs, then they really don’t have to do anything. It also depends on the type of mailbox you have. Lockable mailboxes are typically not officially installed by the USPS. It’s good that you are contacting the Postal Office, however, most of the time, they will tell you to hire a locksmith to get it fixed.

  • Hello my property management doesn’t have a drop off box at its office is that legal? Reason I ask is because sometimes the first lands on Saturday and they only open from 10-12 not leaving much time for me to delivery it and sunday they are close and it just so happen that the 3rd landed on a holiday and they were closed aswell. And because they closed early sat and I work from 6am 3pm I couldn’t meet their dead line. They have one but it’s all taped up and they state no drop off box available? So when I went Saturday forgetting they closed early I still managed to slip it through the crack of the door is that consider late ? And can they still
    Charge me late fee. Also is it legal not to have a mail box to drop off my monthly checks?

    • Hello! It seems that the property management at your residence isn’t allowing for mail to be delivered properly. Whether or not it’s considered late will most likely depend on your lease agreement. It’s not necessarily illegal to not have a mail box, unless your lease has specific instructions/regulations about rent payments and the mail box. I would suggest talking to your property manager and talking about an alternative way to deliver your payment. Also, make sure you read your lease thoroughly.

  • I’m temporarily in an Independant Livng situation and there is only one mailbox for approx. 60 tenants. The landlord randomly picks and chooses persons to get the mail, seperate it and get it to those who have any. I and many others do not always get mail that is expected (i.e. Drivers License, checks, etc…) I have a Netfix DVD account and never received my last disc even though it had been sent. It seems obvious to me that someone hi-jacked it. I could be charged for it never being returned……..Is any of this legal or acceptable???? The slum, I mean, landlord doesn’t seem to care and is the type to cut any corner to make another dollar….Please Help….many would be thankful

    • Hello, this is definitely not legal or acceptable. Someone is obstructing the delivery of your mail and is tampering with it. This is a federal crime and you have grounds to sue your landlord or press charges against them. You should bring this to your landlord’s attention as soon as possible.

  • Can management put somebody else’s name who (does not live with you) on the mailbox to receive mail from that party? With out your consent?

    • Hello, if you do not have a shared mailbox, you should only be receiving mail for the people who are listed as residents for that unit. Talk to your property manager and bring this to their attention.

  • Hello, I have a mailbox in front of my house and I have caught the neighbour going through my mail, his mail box is in front of my house next to mine, but his mail box is portable (sitting on a cement block that can be moved) I moved his mailbox away from mine and placed it in front of his properly but he moved it back next to my box. I just don’t want that guy going through my mail can I make him move it in front of his properly?

    • Hello, no one is allowed to look through your mail except you. You shouldn’t be moving his mailbox, since that means you are tampering with his, but he definitely should not be going through yours. Try talking to him about it and let him know that it is illegal to look through someone else’s mail. If you catch him doing it again, try taking photos for evidence. You could potentially press charges, as this is a federal crime.

  • Hello! I just moved into an apartment in CO on October 19th. So far, I still don’t have access to my mailbox. I was told during lease signing that I could go to the local USPS office right down the street and pick up keys because the apartment had stopped collecting them from tenants and transferred control of the boxes/keys to USPS. When I got to the USPS office, I was told that there is a rekeying fee of $40. I refuted it and told them I was a new tenant and shouldn’t have to pay. USPS told me they don’t collect keys from tenants when they leave and they rekey with every new tenant. I left and called the apartment manager. She told me that shouldn’t be the case and that she’d call. When I spoke to her next, she said she had spoken to a Steve at USPS and they had come to an agreement that I would get a key without a fee. When I drove back to the office, I was told Steve never made that agreement and that I’d still have to pay. I spoke to the apartment manager again and she said that was not what he said and that she’d try again. When I spoke to her again, she said my two options were to a) Pay the $40 and get it rekeyed and have it take two to three weeks or b) have the apartment break into the box and set up a new lock for me, which could also take a couple weeks. I asked how I’m supposed to get my mail in the meantime and was told to wait for the mailman to show up and get it from him. Is this legal? There is nothing in the lease about a mailbox so I feel that complicates it, but she explicitly told me it should cost me anything.

    • Hi! The option your apartment manager gave you to “break into the mailbox” is definitely not legal! The mailbox technically belongs to the USPS, so only they are allowed to set up a new lock. It seems that your apartment manager is obstructing the delivery of your mail, which is not legal either. Since your lease doesn’t say anything about a mailbox, you can probably fight the rekeying fee. There is already a mailbox on the property, so your apartment manager must give you access to it. Your best bet will be having USPS rekeying your mailbox and trying to negotiate that fee with your manager. If you can, try to get some sort of evidence of her telling you that you don’t need to pay; this can help you in the future. Also, your mailman needs a safe, secure location to deposit your mail, so you shouldn’t have to wait for him to show up to get it from him personally. Good luck!

  • I’ve been living in the same multi-unit apartment complex in Los Angeles California for over 25 years now and I was supplied a mailbox with a lock when I originally moved in although there is no mention of it in my lease. Recently the landlord was issued a notice, possibly a PS form 4056, to replace the old mailboxes with updated ones. The landlord missed the 30 day extension deadline by failing to comply with the notice, he didn’t inform any of his tenants, and now our mail is being withheld by the post office and they’re threatening to return all mail to senders if the mailboxes aren’t replaced. I had to pay for a PO Box in order to avoid having my mail sent back to senders. What more can I do to have this situation resolved?

    • If you are still having problems with your lockable mailbox at your apartment, contact the local post office about the problem. Your landlord is responsible for carrying out the requirements of the notice and you may have ground to take legal action against your landlord for failing to comply and the money you had to pay out of pocket.

  • My building is locked and mailbox is inside the building. Landlord says that mailman has the key to get in the building, and most of my mails are sent back because the building being locked. I had instances of government documents not being delivered because of this, which seriously affects my stay in US. what should I do?

    I tried to bring it to the attention of the landlord but they said that all deliveries are tenant’s responsibility. I live Pennsylvania, can I sue my landlord?

    • Your landlord is obligated to leave the door unlocked for the mail carrier to easily access the mailbox. By not doing so, your landlord is obstructing the delivery of your mail, which is illegal. Talk to your landlord about the laws surrounding mailboxes. If you continue to have issues, you may be able to take legal action. You can sue a landlord in Pennsylvania for up to $12,000 in a small claims court. However, you should seek legal counsel to see if you have grounds to follow suit, as most claims are for security deposits. Talk to the U.S. Post Office to see if there is anything they can do.

  • Hello, I am a tenant and the place I’m renting is run by a property management. I received a mail addressed to the Owners name sent to my home address from the HOA association. My question is is it illegal to open this mail? This mail is from the HOA association I live at right now, from what I know they just did an inspection of the area. I just wanted to know how that went. My main concern is that mail might be something about that inspection. What should I do about it?

    My cousin has been charged a penalty for not paying the trash because she was informed it was included in the rent. She’s been receiving a mail addressed to her landlord prior to that, however she didn’t open that mail because she said it is illegal to do so. Only to find out that the mail addressed to her landlord was to let her know to pay the trash payment. I did not want my situation to be like this. I need advice please.

    • Hello, if the mail is addressed to somebody else you should not open it. It’s illegal to look through someone else’s mail. I understand your concern about the situation. You should contact your landlord about the letter and ask them about the recent inspection.

  • Hello, I moved into an apt last year and immediately noticed that the mailbox provided did not prevent rainwater from drenching the mail. It had also been broken into and my mail arrives unreadable. I notified the landlord several times. Last week my paycheck arrived soaking and it couldn’t be deposited, it had to be reissued. When I told the landlord my rent would be a few days late (and I could prove the check had to be reissued) he immediately issued a 3 day notice of eviction. I borrowed to pay rent but all of my mail, including what the landlord sends, arrives soaking wet. The landlord sent an email yesterday informing me that the mailbox is federal property and it is not up to him to fix it. Is he correct? Must I pay for a po box in order to receive mail properly?

    • Your landlord is obligated to provide you with the ability to install a mailbox. It’s your right to receive mail on time and intact. However, the mailbox is federal property. If there is a problem with your mailbox, you should contact the U.S. post office about getting it fixed. Your landlord can’t prohibit you from having the necessary changes made.

  • Hello, I live in a multi-complex apartment building. It in under new management and they have been open since October of last year. But they still don’t have mailboxes for the tenants. I also have a crazed neighbor that does not like me and vice-a-verse and now all of a sudden I never have mail. They set the mail on a bench and lay them out where you are either upstairs or downstairs from your neighbor kind of fashion. I have not had any mail in about 7 days. Usually I do with my account from a casino and I have not receive not of my perks. Which is weird. I hate the fact that my mail is left out and it is vulnerable to any body in this building. Can i have code enforcement look into this so they can make the property management company put a mailbox in this place?

Leave a Reply