Does A Landlord Have To Provide A Mailbox Key?
Anytime we move into a new rental property, development, or complex, there are certain things we must figure out. These are the everyday and routine aspects of life. That includes taking out the trash and knowing what day and how trash pickup works. It is the daily routine of checking mail and learning when mail runs and how the mailbox system works. That can include questions such as does the landlord have to provide a mailbox key, or is that the tenant’s responsibility?
Whenever a landlord provides a lockable mailbox, the landlord will typically be required to give the tenant a key. Some properties, however, will require the tenant to contact the US Postal Service for a key. That also means that the landlord does not control the mailboxes or is not the property owner. Additionally, the tenant may also incur a charge for a new mailbox key.
The bottom line is, the tenant should find out beforehand, as in before signing the lease or contract, exactly how the mail system is run. Here is a look at a few scenarios. These include situations when the landlord is required to provide a key, when the tenant is responsible for obtaining a mailbox key, and what you should know about each scenario.
When is the Landlord Required to Provide a Mailbox Key?
The law in many states requires that the landlord provide tenants with a lockable mailbox. It is common practice for many rental properties to have a set of keys assigned for their lockable mailboxes. In these setups, it is also the landlord’s role to maintain and assign the mailbox keys. That also means the landlord is required to give the tenant a mailbox key upon moving in.
The other common scenario, which can also be the same as above, will more often apply to rental homes, vacation properties, or smaller apartment complexes. In this scenario, the landlord owns the property and is also responsible for providing a mailbox for each. When this case applies, it is again the landlord’s requirement to provide a key to the tenant.
It is also worth noting here that in this scenario, the landlord is also permitted to have a key to the mailbox. This is a fairly common law in many states where the landlord is the property owner. Don’t worry though, in no State and as governed by Federal law, it is never permissible for the landlord to open, go through, or take your mail.
When is it the Responsibility of the Tenant to Get a Mailbox Key?
Some apartments and privately owned rental properties simply allow the US Postal Service to handle the responsibilities of the mailbox. In these scenarios, the landlord ( and or property owner) are never given a key. That also means that the locks to these mailboxes are changed by the US Postal Service. For the tenant, that simply means they will need to contact their local Post Office branch to obtain a key.
In cases like these, sometimes the tenant will need to purchase a new key from the USPS. Other lockable mailbox systems, however, will not need the purchase of a new key. In those scenarios, it can require a trip to the local Post Office to pick up the key.
Providing a lockable mailbox and keys aren’t the only requirements placed on landlords by tenant-landlord law. Here are other common obligations that landlords should meet and that tenants should be aware of and know.
What Obligations Does the Landlord Have?
Being a landlord is a full-time job, and sometimes more. That also explains why many apartment complexes and developments have different departments. Some apartment rental companies have individual billing, maintenance, and customer care departments.
With all the legal requirements landlords and rental properties must meet, it is no surprise they need help. Here are a few of the top obligations placed on landlords.
Must provide inhabitable residence
This is the granddaddy of them all when it comes to the most important responsibility of the landlord. The gist of this legal requirement is that the property must be in a state of good repair and provide a comfortably livable environment.
That means a property with running hot and cold water, proper sanitary fixtures, electricity, and other living necessities. In short, the law frowns on slum lords and requires ample upkeep and maintenance of the property.
Provide appropriate trash receptacles
As it was mentioned at the onset, taking out the trash is one of life’s daily chores. It is also required by the tenant-landlord law that sufficient trash receptacles be provided to make that possible.
Emergency property services
Landlords are generally mandated to provide emergency services for repairs of issues such as flooding or loss of heat during the winter months. In most cases, this will require nothing more than providing the tenant with the number to the on-call maintenance department.
Do All Rental Properties and Apartments Have Mailboxes?
In an interesting workaround and a way for landlords to avoid the mailbox issue altogether, some rental properties choose to bypass using mailboxes completely. Rental properties in these cases opt to use mail delivery options such as door slots.
Some basic standards are required for door slots acting as mail receptacles. The door slot opening must be no less than 1 1⁄2 inches x 7 inches. The slot must also be a minimum of 30 inches above the floor. Horizontal door slots are also required to have a top-mounted flap. Additionally, vertical door slots can be used as another alternative.
In those states that don’t require landlords to provide a lockable mailbox, some rental properties may have wall-mounted mailboxes. There isn’t any law per se governing mounted mailboxes, but they should be visible and well-lighted. Landlords who rent out homes and vacation properties are likely candidates to be using these types of mailboxes.
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