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Community Mailboxes - Five Types We Recommend for Property Managers
As a property owner, manager, or developer, you must consider how the residents of your community will receive mail delivery. Multi-family properties like apartment buildings, condos, and housing developments must provide secure mailboxes approved by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for every household.
If you need a mail delivery system installed at your property, you may not know all of the available mailbox styles and which will best suit your needs. In this article, the Mailbox Depot USA team explains the top five community mailboxes for property owners and managers and the best uses of each. Stick around for answers to the most common questions about community mailboxes.
What Are Community Mailboxes?
Building managers and developers install community mailbox systems in neighborhoods, apartment complexes, and other residential communities to provide centralized delivery of letters and packages from the U.S. Postal Service. Placing all mailboxes in a single location promotes efficient delivery for USPS mail carriers and provides residents with convenient locked boxes that only they and the mail carrier have the keys to open.
Choosing a proper mailbox style depends on the community’s layout, appearance, and available space. Some communities use outdoor pedestal-mounted metal mailboxes, while others mount group mailboxes on interior walls in building lobbies. Let’s look at five common mailbox styles and their ideal uses so you can choose the best option for your new construction or renovation.
Five Types of Community Residential Mailboxes
1. Standard Pedestal Cluster Mailboxes
Many neighborhoods and multi-family complexes use pedestal-mounted cluster box units. Cluster boxes typically contain between eight and 16 horizontal compartments for customers, one or two parcel lockers, and a slot for outgoing mail.
Each parcel locker in a cluster box unit can hold packages for a specific household. Letter carriers keep these lockers secure by placing the parcel locker key in the appropriate customer’s mailbox. The customer then uses the locker key to open the parcel compartment and retrieve their package, leaving the key in the lock.
You might choose pedestal-mounted cluster boxes for your property if you want to place mailboxes outdoors, away from a building wall.
2. Decorative Pedestal Cluster Mailboxes
Pedestal cluster box units often come in a wide variety of colors and styles, making them an excellent choice for property managers and homeowners associations that prefer a specific appearance. Manufacturers can build a cluster mailbox to match a complex’s design by using a particular color and adding decorative pieces like cluster box tops and pedestal covers. If you have a special appearance in mind for your cluster units, review the color and style options from your preferred USPS-authorized manufacturer.
3. Free-standing Horizontal Mailboxes
4C horizontal community mailboxes meet USPS regulations for centralized unit delivery systems. As its name implies, a free-standing horizontal community mailbox includes a horizontal mailbox unit and a free-standing enclosure typically placed against an interior or exterior wall.
Like a cluster box unit, a free-standing horizontal mailbox includes individual customer compartments, a parcel locker or two, and an outgoing mail slot. Because these units back up to walls, letter carriers use master keys to open the unit’s carrier access panel, a front door that opens to all compartments.
Building and property managers commonly install free-standing mail receptacles in lobbies and clubhouses. If you need new community mailboxes for a new construction or renovation project but don’t have the option of mounting or recessing the units, you may opt for free-standing horizontal boxes. You can have as many units as you need installed side by side until you have the correct number of customer boxes and parcel compartments.
4. Surface-mounted Horizontal Mailboxes
Property managers, owners, and developers who want to elevate the mailbox unit off the ground but can’t use a recessed style may opt for surface-mounted horizontal mailboxes. These community mailboxes protrude from an interior or exterior wall and open from the front for customers and post office workers.
Like other USPS-approved mailboxes, surface-mounted units keep customer mail safe with a unique compartment lock for every household. Only the mail carrier and the customer can access the compartment’s locked door.
5. Recessed Horizontal Mailboxes
We recommend recessed horizontal mailboxes for residential communities with deep enough walls because they take up the least amount of space. Many buildings benefit from recess-mounted mailboxes, including apartment buildings, commercial office buildings, college dorms, and more.
Property managers can install recessed horizontal mailboxes in exterior walls, interior walls, or exterior wall structures made of concrete, brick, and other materials. Like other mailboxes on this list, recessed units include customer compartments, parcel lockers, and a mail slot.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the U.S. Postal Service have to approve community mailboxes?
Mailboxes must meet USPS requirements according to current standards. The USPS approves the pedestal-mounted cluster box units and horizontal mailboxes discussed in this article for new construction and renovation projects. If you’re not sure whether a mailbox you’re looking at meets U.S. Postal Service requirements, we encourage you to review the current regulations.
For example, each box in a centralized USPS mail delivery system must have an identifiable label, such as a number, letter, address, or family name.
We recommend assigning each unit on your property a number different from the customer’s address to protect everyone’s privacy.
The USPS also mandates that nothing obstruct the mailbox, impeding postal workers from doing their jobs. Keep this in mind during snowy months, and make sure the area around your community mailboxes remains clear.
How do community mailboxes benefit post office workers?
Post office workers must maintain a tight schedule to ensure people get their mail delivered on time. Opting for a centralized delivery system with every household mailbox located in the same place will make your local post office worker’s job much easier in several ways, including:
- Faster outgoing mail collection
- Higher delivery accuracy
- Better fuel efficiency
Rather than having to stop and go several times to deliver mail to a single community, the mail carrier only has to stop at one location and use one master key.
Does incoming and outgoing mail remain secure?
Each compartment and parcel locker only opens using the designated key, so customers don’t have to worry about strangers reaching into their mailboxes. That said, ensuring the security of a mailbox requires prompt maintenance if a lock breaks or the box becomes compromised. Centralized unit systems also rely on residents to use keys properly, including parcel locker keys.
When are community mailboxes not suitable?
Although cluster boxes and horizontal group mailboxes may provide better security than curbside boxes, certain community types may not find them suitable. For example, a community that houses people with disabilities may opt for more direct mail delivery solutions that don’t require the customer to walk to a centralized cluster box unit. Instead, this community may use individual wall-mounted boxes or door slots so that the Postal Service can deliver mail right to the customer’s door.
Whether you want cluster box community mailboxes or recessed horizontal units, you can find your ideal option at Mailbox Depot USA. We offer many box options for USPS mail collection and delivery with a range of installation methods. Check out our selection of community mailboxes today.