USPS Mail Delivery For Apartment Communities

NMHC-logo      NAA-Logo

June 2013

This document provides an overview of U.S. Postal Service (USPS) delivery policies for apartment communities with a specific focus on recent developments concerning centralized mail delivery service.

In letters from the USPS to NAA/NMHC and several NAA members in Michigan, Missouri, and Florida, apartment communities have been advised that service to newly established delivery addresses will be made to centrally-located mailboxes or “cluster box units” (CBUs) instead of traditional mail delivery. USPS says that in addition to initiating centralized service to new addresses, it has authority to convert existing deliveries to centralized service under some circum-stances, but it is not currently requiring buildings to make that change. Historically, local postmasters are afforded a certain degree of independence in applying USPS policies to consider efficiency, cost, convenience and safety for USPS and customers. USPS is under pressure to reduce its mail delivery costs in order to sustain operations, and expanding delivery to centralized boxes is part of the organization’s effort to improve its financial standing. According to the USPS Five-Year Business Plan released in April 2013, “the financial position of the organization has become untenable,” with labor amounting to about 80% of its annual costs. About 50% of its wage and benefits costs are attributable to mail delivery, and USPS has added more than 1.3 million delivery points over the past two years. NAA/NMHC have requested information from USPS on its policies and practices impacting apartment communi-ties, including clarification on USPS authority to execute centralized service for new and established delivery ad-dresses, and details on their intended schedule for expanding centralized service.

Centralized Delivery Policy 

  • The Postal Operations Manual (Chapter 6) provides for centralized delivery service to both residential and commercial addresses including apartment communities, single family homes, townhomes and business-es.
  • Recent USPS letters regarding delivery service inform apartment communities that centralized delivery will be initiated for new delivery addresses. USPS encourages those with established service to consider a voluntary conversion to centralized delivery.
  • USPS plans to centralize parcel delivery as well as regular mail service, delivering packages to secure parcel receptacles instead of leasing offices, concierge desks, or other similar locations designated for residents to pick up their packages.
  • Although USPS policy generally holds customers responsible for the cost of purchasing, installing, and maintaining mailboxes, USPS has offered to purchase and install new CBUs for buildings with estab-lished service if they voluntarily convert to centralized delivery. USPS has noted that funding may not be available for this purpose in the future.

General Policies for Delivery to Apartment Communities 

  • USPS is required to meet with developers and builders to ensure appropriate delivery and mail receptacle selection for new delivery service.
  • USPS policy provides for “single point” delivery to curbside mailboxes or door slots as well as “central de-livery” to both indoor and outdoor mailbox units.
  • Single point delivery to individual residents may be available for apartment communities if a building con-tains three or more units located above, below, or behind one another, with a common entryway. If, how-ever, an apartment community includes more than one building with a single street address, delivery to individual mailboxes is available only when mailboxes are installed in a single location for the same ad-dress.
  • Mailbox receptacles must comply with USPS regulations and proper installation must be verified by local postmasters.
  • When apartment mailboxes do not comply with the current USPS apartment mailbox standards (USPS STD 4C), they must be replaced with compliant mailboxes when an apartment building is substantially renovated or remodeled.

National Multi Housing Council
1850 M Street, NW, Suite 540
Washington, DC 20036
Fax 202-775-0112