Why Mailboxes are Federal Property
Many people often wonder why mailboxes are federal property. There is actually a careful balance of legal policy that establishes the ownership and property rights of your mailbox. To be sure, the process starts with the resident’s purchase of an up-to-code mailbox. (You can visit usps.com to find out about all the necessary specifications). However, once a mailbox is properly installed and ready for use, it is effectively considered Federal Property.
According to federal law (Title 18, United States Code, Section 1705), it is “a crime to vandalize mailboxes (or to injure, deface or destroy any mail deposited in them). Violators can be fined up to $250,000, or imprisoned for up to three years, for each act of vandalism.” This law puts your mailbox under Federal jurisdiction in order to protect you (the resident) from any harm or vandalism that may occur from a mailbox’s misuse. (Aside: vandalism and even mail theft are rarely prosecuted as federal crimes, but that’s a topic for a separate blog post).
But, that is just the first half of the story.
Once you install your mailbox, and it is ready for the receipt of mail, you effectively lease your mailbox to the federal government for the service of mail delivery. Let’s not forget that, as long as you have an up-to-code mailbox, receiving mail is a free service. Sending mail isn’t free (stamps, shipping, postage, etc). Because you lease your mailbox to the Postal Service, they require that your mailbox meet certain criteria regarding placement, design, and usage in order to maintain your service. If you do not meet these criteria in any way, you break the lease and the Postal Service will no longer use your box for mail delivery.
For more information on the Postmaster General approval process specifically related to locking mailboxes, check out these useful posts.
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It seems like part 1 and part 2 are somewhat in conflict. If the mailbox “is effectively considered Federal Property” then how can I “effectively lease your mailbox to the federal government for the service of mail delivery.” If its already theirs how do I lease it to them?
Landlord refuses to fix broken mailboxes not receiving mail what do I do
I would write a letter to your city management and the US Postal Inspectors in your area as the mailbox was initially installed and maintained by the landlord, they are required for the upkeep of it.
Is it illegal to tie a rope around a mail box to prevent access by postal carriers?
Is it your mailbox? If so, I don’t see any problems with doing that. You can also place a Hold Mail Order online on the USPS website.
Put up your own. You can get them Amazon, Walmart etc as little as $10
Thank them and be grateful.
Although I’m not charged for the things delivered to my home, someone was charged to send them. It is in no way “free.”
A wise man once told me: ‘Nothing is free!’
So true brother. I feel that if it’s federal property, then they should have to pay for the mailbox.
The mailbox is only federal property once you’ve officially mounted it up and declared it as your USPS delivery point. You own the mailbox and can take it with you once you move. In part, this is so that mail theft is a federally prosecutable crime.
If anything, once the mail “receptacle” is installed, the post office only controls the airspace inside your mailbox. They can control how high it is above the ground, how far back it is from the curb, where it’s supposed to be, how secure it’s supposed to be, what’s supposed to be in it, etc. Once the initial box is installed, it the responsibility for upkeep to meet to those “airspace” requirements falls to you (or the owner should you be a renter)
“Whoever willfully or maliciously injures, tears down or destroys any letter box or other receptacle intended or used for the receipt or delivery of mail on any mail route, or breaks open the same or willfully or maliciously injures, defaces or destroys any mail deposited therein, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”
so funny story actually, im uhh.. im 13 and i put pringles in a bunch of mailboxes i passed by in my neighborhood when i was out on my daily walk. Am i gonna get arrested or something?
I moved into my apartment on Dec 1/2020. Matsnce msn stated I can place paper with clip with my apt number in it. With black lettering ok so it’s in my outside mailbox- receiving mail since dec 2020. He becomes the ( Manager ) of this rental property ) now he thinks he owns the world. He not only took my mail out if my box he also took my 2-K off my mail box. Is this a federal crime as well the taking of mail I get/ yes., But the taking off the 2-K
Signe to allow the postman to deliver my mail correctly. Does he have the right to take my sign down off my mail box. ? As a rental manager ? What can I do about this?
I am the current lease holder in a house i am renting,we have the old lease holder in the basement refusing to leave,while the proper eviction proceedings are in the process the old lease holder keep writing his construction co name on mailbox.This is not a biz this a residential one he no longer has any legal grounds to.WHAT CAN I DO LEGALLY
Contact your local PO to work with your local carrier. USPS can’t deliver mail to someone who does not “reside” at an address. An apartment complex is required to provide “roles” to carriers with the leasers names on it, so squatters and subleases don’t get mail. It also discourages mail fraud. Also file a complaint with the Postal Inspectors for a mail fraud investigation.
I was thinking long and hard about this I bought the mailbox I put it up and it’s in somebody else’s control no I think it’s a supreme Court decision would ratify this but then I looked at how supreme Court justices are picked and it’s by the government should be voted in, but back to the mailbox you should put a bill in every month and put the red flag up. If the deliverer picks the bill up which I probably will cuz they won’t look at it but it’s on them we have a legal binding contract which you can sue for.but I’ll be damned if I’m going to put something up and let some government form steal it from me!!
If the usps “owns” my mailbox, why do I have to replace it if it is damaged. I think it is ridiculous, and to make the matters worse I recently asked a local lady who I purchased items from to leave them in MY mailbox because I wasn’t home. The local post master called her and told her if she ever left anything else in MY mailbox it would be confiscated and she would be fined. I am beyond upset about this!!!
It is because no one by law is supposed to put stuff in your mail box except a US postal carrier or a package delivery servicer since it is supposed to be US gov property. It is a safety thing as well as to be sure no one steals your mail. It’s a law that is supposed to protect you. However nothing should stop you from putting a shelf or a keyed box down below or near your mailbox for packages or mail and note drops. If you get a mail box that has a drop door and lock and key, the postal carriers cannot see what is already in the box. This is another way to get notes to you that can’t be investigated by the post servicer. If you have a package drop box down below, you can use that for personal drops as well.
Only USPS is allowed access to mailboxes. Not any other delivery service. Postage must be paid for any item to be left in a US mailbox.
In my neighborhood, we have mail posts with four mailboxes on each one so it’s common that I get our neighbor’s mail from time to time. Does that mean I can’t take their mail and put it in the correct mailbox? It would seem pretty silly that it would be considered “breaking the law”.
To clarify, only items with “postage” should be in mailboxes. So if you take the misdelivered mail in your mailbox and place it in their mailbox, that would not be considered “breaking the law.” In the case above with the person having a lady he buys stuff from leaving non-mail inside his box, if she were to put sufficient postage on it to satisfy weight and size requirements, she could legally leave that mail inside that box.
Is it illegal to put a lock on your mailbox in a traii park
The USPS Domestic Mail Manual states that “no part of a mail receptacle may be used to deliver any matter not bearing postage, including items of matter placed upon, supported by, attached to, hung from, or inserted into a mail receptacle.” In other words, the mailbox may not be used for anything other than for pieces of mail with postage attached.
Your local Postmaster is correct!! You should not be upset. smh
Just because it’s the way it’s legally set up, or because the Postmaster is “correct”, does not mean Barbara should not be upset. It is entirely possible for a legal system to be stupid, and for a Postmaster to pick on a harmless neighbor lady who had a private agreement with Barbara, threatening her with fines and confiscation, is VERY stupid, and inappropriate in a free society. This is America. We shouldn’t be threatened by officials for private transactions done in good faith. Something is wrong about the system and Barbara SHOULD be upset. You shouldn’t tell her that she shouldn’t be.
The Postmaster did not have a problem with Barbara making an agreement with a friend. The problem comes with Barbara giving her friend permission to use a mailbox when she has no authority to do so. Put the items on Barbara’s front or back porch, or beside her front door, or find a hiding place (and before you say those areas may not be safe for the item, the mail box is no longer safe when anyone other than the owner and the USPS use it) The mailbox is for the exclusive use of Barbara and the USPS. There is no way to protect your mail, if other people are allowed to go into your box, no matter if they are your “friends” or not. I understand that Barbara, her friend, and obviously you, are unaware of the regulations, but that doesn’t make the USPS stupid.
We all understand the law but it’s just stupid. If the mailbox is mine, and it is since I bought it, placed it and is on my property, I can give access to it to anybody I want.
The mailbox security is the same as before because criminals don’t follow the law by definition.
Also a court is still able to enforce the law mailbox in the case I demand it. But not that a postman can sue someone for using my mailbox without asking me first if we had an agreement.
Speaking As a mail carrier I would like you to think about something. If every pool cleaning, landscaper, window washer, dog walker, babysitter, or anyone else that wants to come by and put stuff in your mailbox starts doing it what will it look like when the mail carrier gets there to deliver or Retrieve mail from your mailbox?
Okay? There are standards mail boxes have to be upheld to in place for you mail couriers. If the mailbox is left in disgusting condition then there should be policy that simply allows you to refuse delivery.
Jump to it being “criminal” for people to do this is silly. These regulations make more sense for public mailboxes, private mailboxes should be just that, private property with an understanding that by installing a mailbox you are consenting federal employees access to it.
I wish we had MORE people with your mind set.
If we did, this country wouldn’t be so compromised.
The USPS Domestic Mail Manual states that “no part of a mail receptacle may be used to deliver any matter not bearing postage, including items of matter placed upon, supported by, attached to, hung from, or inserted into a mail receptacle.” In other words, the mailbox may not be used for anything other than for pieces of mail with postage attached.
The USPS Domestic Mail Manual goes on to states that it is a federal offense and there is a significant penalty for violating this law.
Sorry, Barbara, it’s not YOUR mailbox. It belongs to the USPS, live with it.
No the federal government owns nothing especially not mine or Barbara’s mailbox. I can’t wait for the USPS to fail.
Replying to the ownership issue: If anything, once the mail “receptacle” is installed, the post office only controls the airspace inside your mailbox. They can control how high it is above the ground, how far back it is from the curb, where it’s supposed to be, how secure it’s supposed to be, what’s supposed to be in it, etc. Once the initial box is installed, it the responsibility for upkeep to meet to those “airspace” requirements falls to you (or the owner should you be a renter)
Again, federal code specifies who can put what in that “airspace,” hence that local lady is restricted from placing items in that mailbox. You can always set up another secured place for her to leave it, like in a milk container by the door, or a similar large potted plant.
But it is not Zero cost. Someone pays for the delivery. If I have something shipped UPS, someone pays for shipping and they leave it on my porch. If I have someone send me something via USPS they still pay to ship it but then I have to provide a special place for the postal person to leave it.
You have a lot of things delivered to that mailbox that you didn’t put postage on or pay to have postage put on.
They don’t own ****. They simply regulate the use of the mailbox. I can do whatever the hell I want to the mailbox. If they owned it that would not be the case. They regulate my automobile as well but that does not mean they own it. Firearms are regulated, does not mean anyone owns them but the purchaser.
Over-the-air TV is free too, does that mean the FCC owns my TV?
Can a POA charge me to use an established mail box located in a mail kiosk? We initially paid a key deposit. Now they changed the rules after many years stating we must now pay an annual fee. I thought once a mail box was established that it is then a free service.
Hi Marsha, this will likely depend on your POA terms and local regulations. Do you own the mailbox, or does the POA? We are not the experts regarding legal proceedings like this, but if you do find yourself needing a new curbside or wall-mount mailbox make sure to reach back out to us!
My 83yo, across the street, neighbor is livid because my underground lawn sprinkling system gets his 30yo metal (rusted) mailbox wet. This is now occurring after changes were recently made by the road commission after rebuilding our subdivision’s road.
He is demanding that I “fix it” because I am breaking a federal law (ruining his mailbox.)
It sounds like it may fall to your local road commission to correct. Then again, municipalities do not have the best record with “fixing” things. It may be less painful to just either purchase a new mailbox for the neighbor (because the Postmaster Approved mailboxes are fundamentally waterproof), or deal with the lawn sprinkling system yourself.
Question? Can a neighbor replace your mailbox with your knowledge if it is in their yard? Is this considered tampering?
When I bought my home in a gated community with a POA (Property Owners Association), I was told USPS did NOT deliver inside the gates. There is, I was told, a mail center right outside the gates and I could buy a mailbox there to receive USPS mail. It cost $50, a one-time cost for a small box with key access. Nine years later, the POA is telling us they will be charging us an annual fee for mailboxes ($50/year for my box size). Can they legally do that when I BOUGHT my mailbox and was not renting vm it? What recourse do I have to be able to get my mail delivered, as I pay taxes to get that, at no annual cost like this? Thank you. LOTS of residents CV upset!
Hi Patti, thanks for your comment. Being part of an HOA or POA, I suspect the area where the mailboxes are mounted are technically on the POA’s property. This will be something you have to work out with that organization, and possibly the post office. It’s also possible that the cluster/ mailboxes in that ‘mail center’ are actually USPS owned and operated. Try reaching out to your local post office on this matter. Sorry we couldn’t be of much more assistance, but that would be my best recommendations without knowing all of the specific details.
I am not a lawyer, but if you have signed paperwork that says you bought the mailbox you should see a lawyer. If the POA/HOA claims they own it and you have paperwork to the contrary it might be fraud on their part!
They can certainly charge an annual fee for the use of the space where the mailbox is mounted, though.
Can a subdivision Board publicize, inform, and conduct a vote to create uniform mailboxes within the subdivision at a properly held annual meeting of the membership? The By-laws require a simple majority vote of the membership on all matters before the board and before the membership for approval, but is each personal mailbox federal property whereby a collective affirmative vote of the membership, does not count?
Again, the USPS only controls the airspace within those mail receptacles. If the local municipalities choose to change the mailbox locations and the USPS does not find the new location detrimental, they would have no reason to object. However, you could intervene with authorities at a level above the subdivision but under the Federal level.
Whether some unwritten contract or the USPS simply assumes “ownership” if there is something in MY mailbox then it should be assumed to be mine. As long as it isn’t hiding something detrimental to a carriers well being ( poisonous animal, explosive etc ) the carrier should have ZERO right to remove anything but a stamped addressed envelope ( addressed to a different address) or something noted “For postal carrier” might be a thank you, Christmas card, small gift etc. Ive asked people to leave things in my mailbox, just leave my stuff alone
Sorry Dave. the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) begs to differ. Once the mail “receptacle” is installed, the post office only controls the airspace inside your mailbox. But, in response to your comment, most importantly, they can control what’s supposed to be in it. If you’d like someone to just leave something in it, make sure they have adequate postage on it, and they don’t even have to mail it. Just make sure there’s enough postage for the weight, dimensions, and what would be the class of mail were it to be mailed.
Saying that Post Office delivery service is free is nuts. They get paid by someone paying them to deliver mail by stamps. If they had nowhere to deliver the mail, there would not need to be a post office delivery service, just a huge warehouse in every city with thousands of little boxes that they would have to pay for! Can you imagine the lines. If delivery service is free, where does the money come from for trucks, bags, post persons, gas, dog lawsuits, upkeep of delivery vehicles? Do you wonder with stamps don’t cost 4 cents anymore?
Read the article. Did not say it was free. It said it doesn’t cost to receive mail but to pick up mail or receive information delivery does cost.
If the mailboxes are federal property, why do I have restrictions from a Home Owners Association to affix a special mailbox that fits into their criteria?
If my new mailbox fits the criteria that is listed, why to I have to purchase a specifically designed mailbox.?
That would be an issue with your HOA, rather than the USPS.
USPS gets no government money to run its operation, its completely funded by the sale of stamps and postage.
Stacy they do get money from the government
It seems to work like a loan they need to pay back. I believe the treasury gives them the billions they need but they claim it costs more money to deliver mail door to door than it would to have centralized mail boxes. You can look all this up on the net.
My neighbor ripped my mailbox out of his yard today and destroyed it. Is this against the law and what charges could I press against him?
I would LOVE to know the answer to this!!!!
The only reason the post office doesn’t make money is because congress makes them pay for employees and retirees health insurance 75 years in advance what other company is has to do that. When George Bush was president and they cut taxes they see that the budget was going to be blowing to pieces so they made the post office pay for that health insurance to bail out the budget
Why was your mailbox in his yard?
Contact your local post office first. If necessary, file a Inspection Service form (PS 2016) and a police complaint). This post leaves a lot of unanswered questions, so the only thing I can posts is somewhat generic.
The USPS is not “completely” self funded and hasn’t been for a long time. Don’t kid yourself, they lose a lot of tax dollars every year and have for a long time.
Read the article. Did not say it was free. It said it doesn’t cost to receive mail but to pick up mail or receive information delivery does cost.
18 US code 1705 sites a violation for Whoever willfully or maliciously injures, tears down or destroys any letter box or other receptacle intended or used for the receipt or delivery of mail on any mail route, or breaks open the same or willfully or maliciously injures, defaces or destroys any mail deposited therein, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
Nowhere in the LAW does it claim or state that the mail box is owned by the USPS. For them to deliver it has to be approved. If someone is inferring that the USPS owns my box due to a law covering damages then the state owns my auto if there is a law covering damages to it by someone and that is not true.
I have a mailbox that is in the same place as it was when I bought the property 22 years ago. It was put there years before because the carrier didn’t want to deliver down our private association gravel road. The owner has passed away and the new owner wants me to move my mailbox supposedly to put a driveway in. Is this legal or bullying? Do I have any rights?
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney and to have that attorney with you during questioning. If you so desire and cannot afford one an attorney will be provided at no cost.
No ur mail box is place where it needs to be and if they want to lay a new drive way then they have to work around it no one can make u move anything . Call ur postmaster for your city and they will tell you what needs to be done and let them know they need to do the same .
Is it illegal to paint a collective mailbox in a condominium complex
Contact your city’s code division.
I live in a rural town in RI and the USPS just notified us that they will no longer deliver to our house due to the conditions of the road. They informed us that we can place our mailbox across the entrance to our street, however the neighbor near that property claims it is his property. Can we still place our mailbox there or since we were informed to do so by the USPS?
by law you can in the easement area…most put them on neighbors property line…ask you local usps office to talk to the neighbor…you will be required to upkeep the box on the neighbors property not them
No not true they own the land but they do not own the part of the land that is next to the road there is a section that is city own . To use are they need that would include that part of land . Where the city have drains city water running to the land they own . That is why the they told u to place it there . If you still have a problem call the post master he can help u take care of this problem and get ur mailbox placed where it needs to be . No one by law can tell you what they are say to you .
We have had a mail box in front of our house for 20 years. We have never used it because we have a box at the post office. Can I have my paper delivery person start putting our morning newspaper into it?
no..they make an additional you can hang under your box for that or make it yourself
Hello everyone, my landlord (who lives in Hong Kong) take out my name from the mailbox and the intercom and I am having troubles receiving my mails and packages. Is he legally allowed to do that? Many thanks in advance to anyone who would have some advice in this regards as this has become a major nuisance.
no….unless you broke the lease or don;t leave there anymore
No call the police and place ur name back on the box or u can just get a P.O. Box .
In a situation where 8 condos share the same mailbox, one man owns 6 of the condos. He took down the mailbox in the process of changing some landscaping. His condos are only rented out for 1 to 7 nights at a time. The two units he doesn’t own are rented for several months at a time. Could he be fined by the post office for failing to put the mailbox back up?
I purchased a home in June. There was a mailbox that was used by the previous owners with our street number on it. Two weeks from our settlement we noticed our neighbor removed the name and changed the numbers on the mailbox to his address. What do you recommend we do?
We own a apartment complex that has the mailboxes just inside of the entrance of each corridor. These mailboxes
Were installed in 1972, and are needing minor repair but they were installed and owned by the postal service. Keys have to be purchased at the post office. It is our understanding that our service personnel can not repair them.
Is the location and maintenance of these mailboxes a responsibility of the post office?
apt owner is responsible
So if the mail receptacle is the Fed Govts, but it is on my property that I paid for and continue to pay taxes on, shouldn’t the Fed Govt be paying me rent for storing their receptacle on my property? Which would also beg to inquire if they are going to pay me back the over $300 that I paid for said receptacle, since it is said to be owned by them? First paragraph of this article says “it is effectively considered Federal Property”. I believe a refund and past due rent is owed to me.
good one but no….next try getting back your 1/10th of a cent on the gas selling for 2.29 9/10 in your area
I see “decorated mailboxes” even some with religious messages on them..some that are wrap around adhevise applied, others are hand painted. Is any of this against the law?
decorate away…as long as public code of decency not violated in your community or deed restrictions
Am I permitted to decorate my mailbox since it is federal property? For example, for the Christmas holiday, am I legally and federally permitted to put a garland/bow on it to tie it in with the rest of our exterior house decorations? The decorations do not interfere with the deliver person’s delivery process (i.e., can still easily open door, put down flag, etc.).
decorate away…as long as public code of decency not violated in your community
My neighbor built a new house and he put his new mailbox almost directly across from my driveway. He’s made it difficult for me to get out of my driveway in my own vehicle and impossible for septic tank trucks or the propane truck to get out of my driveway. When he was building the house he agreed to move the mailbox about ten feet further down the cul de sac and that would clear my driveway. He said he doesn’t want to put the box on his side of the driveway b/c he wants access to back up his RV into his driveway. It doesn’t seem fair that all the mail trucks and ups trucks can only turn right. The road is only wide enough for one vehicle at a time. If the road had been a two lane road it would have been okay. Who do I contact to get him to move his mailbox?
We have a quartz company just up the roads from us who’s trucks keep running down our mailbox, we have replaced mailbox 5 or 6 times in the last 5 yrs. And are really tired of it! Is this company liable for damages? All we want is for them to replace said mailbox when it has been destroyed buy their big trucks..
yes they are
I’m a real estate developer and install group mailboxes required by the local postmaster. In one city we develope in the Postmaster is trying to make our company give out the keys to new homeowners. In other cities we deliver the locks and keys to the Postmaster and they take it from there. Does a Postmaster have the authority to make me responsible for giving keys to new homeowners?
if the community is assuming upkeep to the boxes yes you do have the responsibility…
I am a local contractor i put a hand written bill in a customers mail box. The post office took it out put it in a envelop and put it in mine three days later. (I wonder why the USPS is not making any money). So i called the post master they told me they own the inside of the mailbox and no one but them can put anything in it. The single dumbest thing someone from the government has ever said!
Can my mail carrier write on the outside of my mailbox? Thanks
no….what are they writing? if it;s your address it has to be on the box tho
OK let’s be clear here, nobody is getting mail delivered for FREE and therefore would constitute a “lease” of my mailbox to the USPS. Any mail delivered was paid for by someone to have it delivered to a certain location meaning it is not free but rather the USPS is doing what they were paid to do. Postal employees have gone from Pony Express and neither rain, sleet or snow could stop them to a bunch of lazy government employees that won’t even get out of their vehicle if someone has blocked a mailbox. This is why your going broke, the UPS and FedEx carriers come to my door and ring the bell with a smile on their faces. I personally believe dissolving the USPS and contract it out to commercial providers would be a blessing. You have sealed your own fate!!
Removing stuff from my mailbox without my permission is theft. I am very upset that items in my mailbox without postage were confiscated. My neighbors should be able to leave items in the box for me to retrieve. It has absolutely no effect on thier mail delivery. Not sure why the USPS believes they have the right to confiscate. What law/regulation allows them to do so?
read the law….it is written…only mail with proper postage is allowed in your box…differing opinion. please contact your congressman…
Hi, my front yard is shaded by oak trees causing it impossible to grow grass. Bought ten bushes/trees and seeded area with flower seeds. Surroundings area with g
18″ garden fence because of dogs, children or anyone. Why I want a nice front yard at my best and they cost me my personal money. Area only covers small area of yard. All sidewalk, driveway and patio/mailbox are in great condition. The mail carrier walks over garden fence for me to find flat plants, fence bent, small bush flat & dead, mud on my patio from their shoes. Called post office to be advised they could walk anywhere on my property. Don’t understand with nice sidewalk, driveway and patio what’s the problem with them? Being a single senior citizen my little garden brings me pleasure. Why are they allowed to destroy my garden and be disrespectful to a senior woman?
Carrier is supposed to leave the area they way they found it…if you are describing accurately your property with free access without going thru flower bed then carrier needs to avoid it…depending on the route type and description, yes carriers are supposed to make the most efficient means of travel to the next delivery, even if it means walking on the grass…if a customer desires one not to cross grass or carrier deems it unsafe due to problems, which a supervisor should verify, then the carrier stays off it…you need to escalate your concerns to next level thru 1800 ask usps with customer complaint or contact the regional consumer affairs unit of usps in your district which is easily found online…the issues put thru this way are sent in hard copy to the offices with a satisfactory response and answer to the customer and copied to district and washington..failure to close these issues and not addressed properly by your local office create problems for that management and are reviewed and held accountable…this option is available to any posters here but remember…the correct answer may not be the one you want to hear always…if it seems stupid address it again to consumer affairs or the 1800# and ask to be contacted by someone other than your local office for explanation…in the offices i worked as a carrier, clerk and management, we used common sense along with the rules to fix a situation as best as possible…if we didn’t know the answer, we went and found it and called our customers back…i know that is not always the case in every office…we hire humans as does any other business or work place and the individuality and personal agendas may interfere with rules, common sense and the right way to work with the situation and customers and our workforce….thank you….would love to see your flower bed…always enjoyed a customer who took pride in their homes …enjoy your day!!!
If your box is getting covered by an aggressive bush for lack of identity and it’s not your property, (the box has to be on the right side depending on mail route) who’s responsibility is it to get rid of the bushes?
the homeowner should take care of it..your carrier has forms to leave and notify the customer to fix…call your local post office for help or use the info on the above post to escalate it…without customers, we have no product to really sell,..we are basically a service..
This is completely incorrect. A privately purchased and installed mailbox remains the property of the purchaser. HOWEVER, Federal statues and regulation protect and regulate what one can, and cannot do with that property. This is no different that an automobile – when an individual purchases a car, the car is the property of the individual. The vehicle does NOT effectively become govertnment property just because you drive it on a city, county, state or federally funded roadway. However, all of those entities have power to regulate what you do, and cannot do, with your vehicle while on the road.
you are basically correct in your thought…the usps does not own your box as stated….it is to be used for the sole purpose of mail delivery and retrival…customers are responsible for proper installation per codes of usps and local govt and its upkeep…private items left in the box for the owners needs to unfortunately have postage on it…think of all the flyers people would be stuffing in your box if was allowed…as for packages left there for owner without postage, safety is the issue in todays world…all packages are basically scanned for danger…
My neighbor has his mail box covered with political stickers. How can this be legal. It is like the federal government taking a position.
My mail carrier keeps writing my house numbers on my mailbox with Big Black magic marker. the first time it happened they denied doing it so I scrubbed It Off it took over 30 minutes with a scratcher alcohol to get it to be removed. now they’ve done it again in the same sloppy handwriting on the front of my mailbox and it looks awful. This time the carrier admitted to doing it but his manager says that it’s his right to write the house numbers on my mailbox however he chooses, even though my house numbers are displayed clearly on my house directly behind my mailbox, at this point I just want the mail carrier to take his time and effort to remove the permanent marker from my mailbox and I will apply numbers and a classy manner so that they are there but the manager at USPS says it’s not their responsibility to fix it? What are my rights here?
the local office should have contacted you the 1st time it was noticed the numbers were not there…the carrier does have available to them to notify you of the need for a visible # on the box…ample and reasonable time should have been given to you to do it…you should have also contacted them to find out what you needed to do to correct it…as a courtesy the local usps office should have personnel sent to remove it with the guarantee you fix it properly asap with the numbers…
Buy a piece of magnet, and place 1.25 inch high numbers on it (one inch is minimum height) and call it a day
I live in Minnesota and we have 3 mailboxes on a post with not a lot of room to put the flags up. The post needs to be replaced as well as the 3 mailboxes. Who is responsible for taking care of this?
the homeowners are responsible…or if in a deed restricted community, the homeowners association or the property owners…if they installed all the boxes in the community alike then it is def the homeowners or property managers…if it is individual homeowners then they need to replace
There is a website that outlines requirements for mail receptacles. It is called the domestic mail manual. Also, the post office does NOT receive ANY tax dollars, ever. Receiving mail is a privilege not a right. You still get mail even if you never send any. Restrictions placed on mailboxes are to help with delivery standards and keeping costs down. If everyone could use whatever they wanted and place mailboxes wherever that wanted, delivery would cost a lot more because you made extra steps for the mail carrier. Remember, you only check ONE mailbox, they go to hundreds per day.
What can one hang on their mailbox?
Can a neighbor hang a spandex stuffed with something with a g string wearing high heels?
It looks like the bottom half of a body bending over ( to get into the mailbox).
Bought a mailbox had it installed on side of road as advices by postal employee. I was later advices my box was going to be relocated for road work for about a year. Okay. I had to travel a farther distance to retrieve my mail. Last week mailman stopped me to let me know I could now move my box to front of my home and mail deliver to my home????. He stopped by to tell me my mailbox had been removed and destroyed.?. Never was told there was a time frame. I live on a set income, my box was bought last year, and now need another one. Why can STATE send a notice.
Our Association has two pairs of mailbox ‘clusters’, and each cluster has a box in the top left corner with a slot to drop outgoing mail, for a total of 4. We would like to re-purpose one of those outgoing boxes so that residents can drop non-stamped Association fees through the slot, and the USPS can deliver mail to the same box through the back. This box, and the remaining 3 outgoing boxes, would be clearly labeled as such. Our regular USPS deliverer would be fine with it as well, but he wanted me to call the post office to make sure it would be ok. I did so, and they said no outgoing box could be used for anything else. You’ve also indicated that only paid postage envelopes can go in a mailbox. What statute stipulates this? What’s the harm in re-purposing one of our 4 outgoing boxes?
the federal laws and DMM stipulate the rules governing cluster boxes…they act like an individual box as single customers has…re-purposing wouldn’t be allowed under todays rules….not sure how you would escalate this…but it would def take time…the homeowners association could possible put on the wall there a locked box for dues drop off etc that is properly marked not for usps use…
When living in a condo association do they have the right to have the key to your mailbox
if the condo association is responsible for handing out keys to access, they will likely keep a key for future copying if present customer loses it…they do not have the right to use the key anytime…that becomes a us postal inspector issue
What is the point of a secure locked mailbox, if prior renters have “lost” keys to your box?
On any of our Mail Boss boxes, you can easily swap the core out. Lock replacements are available on our website.
As long as you have access to the locked, lower door, swapping out the lock core takes me only just a few seconds, or at most a few minutes if you’ve never done it before! We have over 1500 unique lock cores, so just be sure to record your new key number!
I believe the “it’s federal property” of a mailbox is due (in part) to the legal definition of littering. 90-95% of my mail these days (2019) is junk/bulk. A complete waste of resources and I put it in the recycling bin without opening, even the ones that disguise themselves as “Important: Open Immediately” crap. Now, that is technically garbage, i.e. litter. If they were to throw that on your driveway, like one of those free advert-only “papers” then that would be littering subject to fine; instead, they place it in their “federally leased mailbox” which is not littering. Check and mate.
I live in a rural/ residential area, my mail box which has been at it’s current location for almost 40 yrs, is curbside on county property. also, it is directly above the driveway of a neighbor building a new home. The neighbor wants us to move our mailbox, which we do not want to. There is a split in the road and stop sign directly I front of our home, making this unsafe for the postman to stop any where else. The postmaster has verbally told me that we do not have to move the mailbox. But the neighbor has just told us that he is acquiring a “permit” to do so anyways. is this legal? or possible? And if he does so, what legal recourse do I have?
would have to see a picture of the area…if needed you may have to move it to the property line in easement area which no one can deny you…if safety is an issue it takes precedence..but would have to see a picture here.please…40 years ago is different from now and sometimes the current arrangement needs to be addressed…a permit to move by him..never heard it…sounds like just talk…good luck with the neighbor in future dealings
I’ve tried for a span of 2-1/2 years to get my post office to fix our cluster box. It was vandalized by a young boy. Parents of the boy did nothing. it was spray painted black over several areas. it looks horrible! it has been beaten with a steel bar, the partial box locks don’t work. I’ve called consumer complaints at the usps regionally, and nationally. they all took my info with promises to get back to me on a plan. no response! i had the same result with the local post master i could at least repaint the unit, but the legality of doing it seems unclear. open to ideas. thanks mike.
who owners the cluster box…the community or homeowners association or the usps is responsible for upkeep? please make certain…it should be in your deeds…and the local post office should have on file clusters they ‘own’ and clusters owned by the community/homeowners….if it is usps, and no help which i am befuddled by your above contacts you did, escalate to local congressman, please
Regarding federal jurisdiction over mail boxes, under federal law Title 18 Section 1705. Does this extend to the area around the mail box for the protection of the mail carrier and mail recipient. For example, if a mail carrier was attacked in the area of the mail box, is this a crime under federal jurisdiction or state jurisdiction? What about an attack on the mail recipient getting their mail, is this a crime under federal jurisdiction or state jurisdiction?
federal state and local laws protect an attack on the carrier…customer’s are def protected under state and local…federal would depend on the situation and would need to be addressed by local authorities
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The mail delivery person is telli g my handicapped tenant that if she doesnt move the mailbox to the street from where I had it placed just inside the driveway because she has Multiole Scerosus, heart issues, and COPD. She toddlers when she walks. There has already been a death of a teenager riding his bike on our busy street in the past, and the mailbox on the acreage that used to be our mailbox has been hit and is no longer there. Also we have a mailbox further down the street for the other side if the property on the street and a d the mail carrier drops the mail for 217 Krenek at 225 Krenek. I personally think the carrier person has changed and is not being g considerate of this soon to be 73 year old woman who is handicapped. Isnt there a handicap provision for mailboxes on the street to be placed in a safer retrieval location? I read up on ADA but ha e found this issue specifically yet.
She needs to apply for a hardship. Mail boxes aren’t moved just because someone says it is too difficult to get the mail. There needs to be appropriate documentation from their doctor.
Your private mailbox belongs to you. It is not federal property. Full stop. However, Federal law protects your mailbox and its contents.
Can I put a hanging flyer on the outside of a mailbox? Like hanging off the red flag?
Hi Steve, thanks for your comment. If it’s on your own mailbox, you might be able to do so… but I wouldn’t go around placing items on other people’s mailboxes, as it is for stamped mail by US mail delivery service only. If the residence has a newspaper holder, that might be an appropriate place to leave a flyer. Good luck!
I recently became a board member of our HOA. We have an outdoor cluster mailbox kiosk with a concrete pad and a roof. Our HOA maintains the kiosk and recently re-roofed it. The county owns the land and maintains the road surface surrounding the kiosk. In renewing our D & O insurance policy, the ownership and potential liability of ownership came up. How should we, as directors list the mailbox kiosk in the insurance application?
I removed my two mailboxes. I don’t accept mail anymore. The mailman broke them by jamming tons of circulars and junk mail. Good riddance.
Not all Federal laws make sense to the average citizen. If USPS wants to dictate what’s allowed in box, let them purchase, install, and maintain it. Last time I checked, my $50.00 paid for it along with installing and maintaining it; not USPS.
In the big scope of things, it’s not a big deal but is definitely an annoyance. Call congressman to ask this nonsense to be changed but that will prob go nowhere. They have bigger issues.
All mailboxes on my street used to be located on my side. Most homeowners on the street have moved their mailboxes to their side of the street in front of each of their homes. The two neighbors across the street have not keeping them in my front yard. One house sold and the new neighbor stated they were not getting mail and then allowed their young daughter to paint the box blue and the post bright yellow so people would be able to find it. It looks terrible and not the aesthetic we’re going for on our property. Question, can they legally paint this on my property? What recourse do I have. Trying to understand so in my discussion with homeowner I can properly frame my positioning. Appreciate any thoughts.
I live on a dead end road. It’s about 1/4 miles. The West part of the street the neighbors get to have their boxes on their property. The East part half to have theirs on a clustered spot. The neighbor whose property they are on has theirs on the West 1/2. (The East neighbors are on his property, but his box isn’t with theirs)
There is weeds, in front of the boxes. Plus large bushes with over hangs in the back of boxes.
Whose should be the ones that maintain the area around the boxes?
Hi Samantha, thanks for your inquiry. This will depend on your local laws and regulations, as the city or county may actually own the roadside/ curbside property at the edge of the road. I would try reaching out to your city and neighbors, and maybe try to find the property boundaries on that area? Best of luck!
Can an HOA paint mailboxes any color of their liking? If they can’t where can I find the federal law that prohibits it and who do I contact to have it taken care of?
Hi Sarah, that is going to depend on whose mailboxes they are! I don’t know of any rules prohibiting the decoration or repainting of mailboxes by their owner, though this could perhaps depend on your local jurisdiction! If you actually own the mailbox you are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of that unit.
I have a friend who has a shared mailbox. She and other residents all use one large community mailbox. No one has ever had any issues until this one lady moved in. She takes it upon herself to go through everyone’s mail, and decide if that person lives there or not. She has now removed everyone’s mail and held onto it, because she wanted to make sure there was enough room for a package that she was expecting, and then will replace the mail in the box. She insists that it’s perfectly legal. I don’t think so.
The article doesn’t know what it’s talking about. Federal law says that you own the box, it’s yours. Because it is used for servicing US mail the federal government regulates how it is used. It ‘s more like you owning your car but requiring you to meet the legal requirements to drive and maintain it. The federal government does not “own” your mailbox. US code Title 18 Ch. 83 Postal Service, e.g., Section 1705. It does not say the federal government “owns” the box. The USPS has written its rules of the road that specifies how the box is used. https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/508.htm#ep1051804.
For one, you cannot affix anything to the mailbox. You cannot use the mailbox for anything other than postage bearing mail… that rules out e.g., service providers doing driveby’s and putting their flyers and business cards inside; and having your daily newspaper inserted into the mailbox, unless it is “sent through the mail.”
USPS is not a business, but a service, like the fire department. It is like saying the police department loses tax dollars every year. Marvin above is correct about why they are hurting now – they are the only department that has to pre-pay these benefits.
If there is a cylinder receptacle under a mail box generally used for newspapers can a person be charged with federal crime for putting campaign literature in that type of receptacle?
I live in a non-HOA subdivision. Mail boxes are on a post with 4 mail boxes in our neighborhood. Mailboxes are really aging – 32 years old. I have read the posts on this site, but it is not going to be easy to replace my box. It has rivets and also not able to get to some rivets without damaging the neighboring box(es). Based on posts I have read here, the boxes are federally owned. Does anyone know if there is a way to get replacement boxes in my neighborhood as a community project. Like for instance, getting locking boxes to replace the falling apart standard boxes? Anyone aware of any project funding requests that can be done?
Hi Leigh, thanks for your inquiry. If it’s an old round top, unlocked box mounted to a wooden gangplank… you should be able to get under it with a small prybar and pop the whole thing up. You are generally able to make changes to YOUR mailbox, as long as you own the property, etc. Your local post office might have resources for purchasing and installing boxes, however as long as you purchase and install a U.S.P.S. approved mailbox, you should be good to go! All of our curbside boxes are USPS approved.
My mail box was broken into. The lock was broken and the mail was stolen. My Home owners association said that it is the responsibility of me the owner to pay to fix the lock. If the box belongs to the USPS why is it that the USPS is not responsible for the repair?
Hi Angela, thank you for your comment. I highly recommend you check out our line of high-security curbside mailboxes. The lock on your traditional unit was likely popped with a basic hand tool or screwdriver. While I understand your frustration, it is the homeowners responsibility to maintain/replace their mailbox to receive mail at their physical address. We are simply a mailbox manufacturer and have no affiliation with any government entity – other than that all of our curbside mailboxes have undergone the USPS approval process. Let us know if you have any need for a secure, locking mailbox that will do a better job of thwarting mail thieves in your area.
Today, 5-5-21, I checked with the post office to see if they did indeed own the boxes, as our mobile park owner refused to get us locking boxes, and mail is being stolen all of the time. Residents want to purchase their own locking boxes to replace the landlords non locking boxes. WE would pay for this. I was told no, the land owner owns the box. The US code 18, section 1705 states that “whoever willfully or maliciously injures, tears down or destroys any letter box or other receptacle intended or used for the receipt of delivery of mail on any mail route, or breaks open the same or willfully or maliciously injures, defaces or destroys any mail deposed therein, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both. ” If we purchase and put our own boxes in place of the non-locking and he destroys/defaces/opens them, he should be liable per the code. One of our home owners (we own our homes, just rent the land) had put in his own locking box and was told by the landlord that he, landlord, would remove and/or destroy it. Does the code protect us against that happenning>
I live in a 55+ community. Emails to the residents keep telling us not to let our dogs pee on the mailbox posts. If I don’t walk on the sidewalk, however, I have to walk in the street. Can I be forced to walk my dog in the street?
Hi Kay, thank you for your comment. Dog pee does indeed ruin finishes and can cause premature wear and tear on outdoor metal products. I however, don’t think I am the proper authority to guide you on the rules in your neighborhood and I am by no means a canine expert. However, if it were my dog I would likely try to pull them away from the mailbox post if they tried to pee on it.
My postman wrote my house number with a Shaprie permanent marker on the side of my white curbside mailbox. I do not believe the postman has a right to deface my box without my permission and would like to file a complaint but am unsure where to file such a complaint.
If you run a non-profit and the former board president changes the mail box with a mail box where only she has the key so that no one else can receive mail, is that illegal and what can be done about it?
What about MAIL (USPS) that is beat to hell BEFORE it’s delivered to you?
And whose property is this
parcel or letter once it’s paid for (by me for example) and once it’s sent
by the sender? Is it the person who purchased
the item that is being delivered?
Normally, once you’ve paid for it, the sender is responsible for making sure that you get it in good condition. The sender can send it Registered Mail, which includes insurance in case of damage. I’m sure other carriers also have different rates for different levels of coverage against damage in transit. It is your responsibility to notify the carrier (USPS in this case) immediately if the item is damaged when delivered, which will enable the sender to collect on the insurance and refund your money or replace the object.
This may not be the case if you have a different agreement with the sender, but the above is the way it is most often, for example with online purchases from Amazon and eBay.
Hi Rebeccah, thanks for your comment! If the mail is damaged in transit I would let both the sender as well as the USPS know. It is important to let the sender know so that they may process a replacement item or letter to you, and if they file a claim it is likely that they will be reimbursed at least for the cost of the shipping. Pictures are always helpful in that scenario, of course!
Can I remove my mailbox if I go on vacation? Many times I get tons of flyers and it overloads and falls on the ground
Hi Bobby, thanks for your comment. You can opt-out of most types of marketing mail by following the instructions on this website. That should help and then another option is to always place what is called a ‘hold mail order’ with your local post office where nothing will get delivered to your mailbox for the duration of the order. They will do this for free for up to at least a few weeks.
Good luck, and if you use our in ground mounting post with any of our boxes on top and the post cemented into the ground it shouldn’t ever fall down from having too much mail! Have a great day.
Also I have forwarded my mail so there shouldn’t be any further mail in it but ‘occupant’ mail still gets delivered
My mailbox is on city property approximately 100 feet from my house. It stands there along with several others as a convenience to the USPS so they don’t need to go down every street along the road. I just got a notice saying due to the snow not being removed they won’t deliver my mail. Can I move the mailbox to my property to insure there is a clear path to my mailbox? How can I monitor property that isn’t mine and is a ways away from my house? I live in the U.P. of Michigan so this is an ongoing issue.
Everyone keeps saying it’s a free service no it is not, we pay taxes that’s where the tax dollars go it’s not a free service
The USPS makes no revenue from tax dollars.
USPS does not receive tax dollars of any kind. They make money by selling postage, shipping boxes, and shipping envelopes that you buy at the post office.
Is it illegal to painters-tape a flyer to the outside of a mailbox? What about the pole or newspaper hook under it?