When planning for multifamily mailbox solutions, USPS regulations are not the only codes that need to be taken into consideration. There are various state and local codes that designers need to consider, as well as federal accessibility regulations for mailboxes in addition to the Fair Housing Act.
For property owners, the importance of providing centralized mailboxes installed in a manner that complies with both USPS and accessibility requirements cannot be minimized. Ensuring compliance will avoid mail stoppage or occupancy permit denials. Luckily, Florence mailbox product lines provide you with all the USPS approved mailboxes and parcel locker options necessary to ensure you can design a mail center for your project that is compliant with all USPS and accessibility regulations.
USPS Regulations For Multifamily Mailboxes
As of October 5, 2006, all new construction and renovation designs in buildings require U.S. Postal Service STD-4C compliant mailbox systems, which requires one package locker for every five units. Centralized mail delivery equipment can be in the form of any “clustered” type mailbox, whether it is free-standing, pedestal-mounted cluster box units (CBU), or other cluster mailboxes mounted on or in a wall.
The USPS regulates the types, styles and locations of centralized mailboxes to provide consistency in form factor for operational efficiency, increased security and privacy protection for customers and to ensure safety is considered for both customers and postal carriers who deliver millions of packages and mail pieces to more than 150 million delivery points six days a week. Regulations in box size, , mail slot dimensions, compartment identification and overall construction of mailboxes must be stringently followed.
To address the growing package delivery volumes while reducing the number of re-delivery attempts, USPS has specified built-in package lockers for all of their centralized mail delivery equipment.
Package lockers were a fantastic regulatory addition because they are also extremely convenient for residents. Now, residents can receive their mail and packages in one secure location 24/7, and they can handle 95% of USPS Priority Mail package sizes so the resident doesn’t have to make a trip to their local Post Office to retrieve it.
Since the USPS first established their current STD-4C mailbox requirements, they have updated their locker to mailbox ratio to a minimum of one 15” package locker for every 5 individual mailboxes installed (1:5 ratio). To satisfy the USPS STD-4C 1:5 package locker ratio, the lockers must meet a minimum compartment height of 15”.
With today’s package growth, especially in multifamily units whose mailrooms can receive up to 50 packages a day, accommodating this ratio can be as easy as adding some stand-alone package lockers.
ADA Regulations For Multifamily Mailboxes
For interior mailrooms, the ADA specifies that at least 5% of the mailboxes must meet accessibility guidelines. But be careful in design and don’t forget about local guidelines. Some local regulations may override this percentage and require 100% compliance. Check with your local jurisdiction codes office and inspector to make sure.
When lining up mailboxes for your tenants, the current practice is to use sequential numbering on the mailboxes rather than matching identification to the apartment numbers. This both improves security and privacy along with allowing for greater flexibility in providing accessible mailbox compartments to meet the 5% specification or other specific resident needs in the community.
According to Section 309 of the ADA, mailboxes must comply with specs on clear floor space, equipment height and operation. An accessible mailbox must be no lower than 15” and no higher than 48” from the finished floor as measured from a clearance of 10” from the installation wall whether you are forward or side facing.
Under Requirement 2 of the FHA, or Fair Housing Act, your multifamily living unit must have an accessible and usable public and common use area. This includes building-wide fire alarms, parking lots, storage areas, indoor and outdoor recreational areas, lobbies, laundry areas, and mailrooms and mailboxes.
For mailboxes to be FHA compliant, it must be no lower than 15” and no higher than 48” from a forward-facing approach. This complies with USPS installation requirements for parcel lockers which can be installed as low as 15” from finished floor as well as with ADA lower reach range regulations.
The FHA also disallows any protruding objects, including mailboxes, located along walks, corridors and other passageways because a cane or wheelchair could bump against it. Any wall-hung objects must not protrude more than 4” when located between 27” and 80”. Objects mounted lower than 27” above the finished floor may protrude any amount as long as the minimum clear width of an accessible route is maintained. Surface-mounted 4C mailboxes with parcel lockers at the bottom may be mounted 15” FFF and would therefore comply with these FHA Accessible Routes requirements.
Many STD-4C modules may be USPS approved and yet still not be appropriate for installation in some circumstances to fully comply with ADA and FHA requirements. The type of facility, location and space availability will drive your selection of USPS approved 4C mailboxes and parcel lockers to ensure your project is designed and built to be entirely compliant.
Florence’s Mailbox Solutions
As a builder, architect or building owner, you may think there’s free-range with the mailroom design, but when your local code inspector or USPS delivery planning manager comes to inspect and requires that you modify your installation plan or replace non-compliant mailboxes, it is going to be a hassle.
Now you’re in a situation where you may have to purchase replacement mailboxes, hire back installers, fix your drywall that will now be damaged, change your spacing and start the design process over.
Take it from Rich Gerstel, President of Exterior Systems, a mailbox dealer and installation provider for more than 36 years. Do it right the first time, save yourself the trouble.
The most common planning mistakes we have observed are:
Not making mailrooms or lobbies big enough for mailbox accessibility and turnaround requirements.
Only adhering to a small percentage of mailboxes being ADA-compliant instead of 100% where it was required due to the type of property involved.
Not using sequential numbering creating issues for the USPS in cases where flexibility was needed to allocate more accessible mailboxes.
We know that architects and builders have a lot of codes to deal with and perhaps are not as familiar with U.S. Postal Service mailbox requirements and their intersection with ADA regulations and the FHA. Florence wants to assist with information and local experts that can support you to make sure your multifamily mail rooms are in compliance from your initial planning to your finished project.
Florence offers 135 pre-configured 4C mailbox modules that meet or exceed all security requirements of the USPS STD-4C regulation for front-loading wall-mounted mail receptacles. Florence’s robust, versatile 4C mailbox line was developed with a simple-to-use modular platform that provides a flexible solution you can tailor for your individual project. Our 4C product line also provides configurable modules that you can design using our product configurator.
Standard pre-configured options like Cluster Box Units (CBU) take all the guesswork out of meeting the USPS regulations and requirements as they are a USPS Licensed Product in addition to being USPS approved.
Even though using CBU pedestal mounted mailboxes for centralized mail installations makes it easy to create an “outdoor community mailroom,” be sure to plan for adequate space for accessibility for both carriers and customers. It is essential to provide a good foundation with minimal slope as well as a minimum 5 foot turnaround space in front of the mailboxes for proper accessibility by all. Compliance doesn’t know the difference between indoor and outdoor mail centers!