How do I Get Packages if I Live in an Apartment?


Photo: NEW YORK CITY, USA

Whether you live in an apartment or house is entirely up to you, but as you might know, both types of properties have their fair share of upsides and downsides. Living in an apartment has plenty of advantages, but sometimes you may encounter difficulties in obtaining packages. Different apartment buildings have different systems in this regard, which can be confusing.

Most parcel carriers have no issues delivering to apartments. To make sure your package gets to you safely and on time, familiarize yourself with the delivery system in place for your apartment community. Find out how you can securely get your packages delivered to your unit – if your doorstep is not an option, the leasing office might be. It’s also important to know how to enter your apartment address when placing your order to ensure your package is delivered to the right place. Furthermore, when looking for apartments, take note of the provided mail features – you’ll want to go for a unit that offers efficient mail amenities. 

How do package deliveries typically work?

For starters, the most important thing you’ll want to understand is how the delivery system in your apartment complex works. Take the initiative to ask about any delivery service – UPS, Amazon, FedEx, and USPS.

Mailboxes may come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The United States Postal Service (USPS), for example, uses apartment-specific mailboxes for small packages, magazines, bills, letters, and magazines. Still, according to USPS regulations, the smallest dimensions for a standard tenant mailbox must not be smaller than 3 inches high by 12 inches wide by 15 inches deep. Other noteworthy regulations by USPS include:

  • Landlords or property managers must label each mailbox with an apartment number and/or tenant name. As tenants come and go, it also falls on the property owner/manager to make corrections to those labels so the postal carrier is up to speed.
  • When it comes to installation, the bottom row of mailboxes must be no lower than 28 inches from the floor. On the other hand, parcel lockers can be no lower than 15 inches from the ground. The top row of mailboxes must be no higher than 67 inches in height to allow all average height adults to access the top mailboxes.

What is a parcel locker?

Sometimes, you may receive much larger mail than the standard letter size, which means that it won’t fit in your standard-sized apartment mailbox. In such cases, the delivery will be left in a parcel locker. At its most basic level, a parcel locker is a secure, lockable storage box where a mail carrier or employee can leave parcels or packages for tenants to collect at a later time. 

Some mailboxes come with parcel lockers already installed for use by residents, while others may fit under or alongside mailboxes to allow easy access. Multi-family units like apartments may need one or two parcel lockers, while larger complexes may have several large compartments with multiple parcel lockers. USPS requires that property owners/managers supply one locked parcel box per every ten mailboxes.

The postal carrier would then leave the package in the designated box and put the key for that specific box inside the mail compartment for the correct recipient. Although a parcel locker is a shared mailbox with other tenants in your apartment community, only packages for one unit can be placed in each parcel locker at a time for security reasons.

Despite their size, parcel lockers are not meant for excess mail that won’t fit in a standard mailbox. If your mailbox is so full that the USPS is unable to fit mail into the box, it’s your responsibility to check your mail more frequently.

How are packages delivered in case of an emergency?

Many things change when the city, state, or country you live in is experiencing a stressful situation, such as a national state of emergency. To see if there have been changes to your mail and parcel delivery carrier services, check their websites to find out how they handle the current situation and how their services may change moving forward.

Some large online retailers like Amazon opt to limit the choice of products available for purchase based on essential and non-essential items. That means that essential online items are available for order, and only those select items will be delivered to your address. Well-established carriers like UPS, USPS, Amazon, and FedEx typically continue to deliver packages and mail even during times like a state of emergency.

In most cases, you can still retrieve your mail from a parcel locker or mailbox when USPS delivers it. Suppose you happen to get direct deliveries to your apartment. In that case, parcel carriers will leave your parcels (that don’t need your signature) at the door without making any contact, especially during a pandemic. Food deliveries may also be left at your door rather than delivered to you in person to keep you and everyone else safe. 

As an extra measure to remain safe during times of severe virus outbreaks, remember to sanitize both your box and the key when you retrieve a package or mail from your parcel locker or mailbox. After you open your package or mail, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water to eliminate any germs that may have come from the delivered item(s).

How do different parcel carriers deliver packages?

Whether it’s a mail or parcel carrier, each carrier delivers to apartments differently. Mail carriers will deliver to a mailbox or parcel box. In contrast, parcel carriers can deliver a package to your doorstep, a special lockbox, or the leasing office (if your apartment building has one). It would help if you planned to receive your package in person from the parcel carrier so you can get it in a safe and timely manner. If this is not possible, ask a neighbor, roommate, or leasing office to receive your package for you.

The major parcel carriers include UPS, FedEx, Amazon, and DHL. the USPS only delivers to unit-specific mailboxes. If your package does not fit in the mailbox, USPS will notify you to pick up the item at the local post office or leave your package in a parcel locker.

1. FedEx

FedEx makes deliveries to apartments. FedEx carriers generally won’t leave your package in front of the door if the location is not secure. However, if you’re not home during the delivery, the parcel carrier will leave a note on your door letting you know that they attempted to deliver your package.

Typically, FedEx carriers will attempt to deliver your package three times. After these attempts, you’ll receive a notice informing you that you need to pick up the package at a local FedEx facility. You also have the option to request to have your package held at the FedEx location for you to pick up when you have the time, or you can schedule a delivery time and date when you’re at home.

To get your packages delivered to your unit from FedEx with custom delivery options, sign up to FedEx Delivery Manager. Creating a FedEx Delivery Manager account allows you to add delivery instructions like your buzzer code or leave your package with a trusted neighbor. You can also customize your experience for future deliveries and select the option not to require signature release if you aren’t home.

2. UPS

For deliveries to multiple-unit addresses such as apartments, UPS will typically make up to three attempts to deliver packages directly to the door when the specific unit number is included in the ship-to address.

If the ship-to address does not include the apartment number, the package will be held at UPS. A postcard will then be mailed via the USPS to notify the receiver that more information is required to complete the delivery. Receivers, in turn, may send a written request to direct the UPS driver to leave the package with the building’s management office or with a specific neighbor.

If you live in a gated community, UPS will make up to three attempts to deliver packages directly to your door. If there is no guard on duty to allow the UPS driver entry, UPS will leave a notice in an available, visible area. By following the instructions given on the note, you can make alternate delivery arrangements to ensure your delivery is made as soon as possible.

To make your delivery easier, consider creating and logging into your UPS account. Sign up for a UPS My Choice Membership to select delivery preferences such as building access information and time of delivery. You can also choose to have your package automatically delivered to a UPS Access Point for more accessible collection.

3. Amazon

Amazon deliveries to apartments are pretty similar to those made by other parcel carriers. If you’re away from your apartment most of the time, consider using one of Amazon’s parcel lockers. Many public places such as shopping centers and supermarkets have an Amazon Locker inside their buildings.

When checking out at Amazon, make sure you indicate which locker location you’re using. Once Amazon delivers your package, you’ll get a one-time access code. You can then head to the locker location, enter the code, and retrieve your package. Amazon also offers property owners/landlords Amazon Hub Apartment Lockers that the manager can install at the apartment building.

4. DHL

DHL works like other parcel carriers and will typically deliver a package to your apartment door. Remember that you’ll need to permit access if the entrance requires a key to get inside the building. 

If you’re not at home for your DHL delivery, you can arrange for the carrier to deliver to a roommate, neighbor, family member, or any other trusted person. If this is not an option, you can opt to have DHL hold the package at their facility until you can pick it up.

Will a parcel carrier deliver to a walk-up apartment?

If your unit is in a walk-up building, the delivery courier will first contact your apartment. Once you give the go-ahead for them to enter, the parcel carrier will walk up the stairs to deliver your package to your door. Ensure your package has your name and apartment number on it so that the parcel carrier knows that they are delivering to the right person and apartment number.

When a parcel carrier has to walk up flights of stairs to get your package to you, make sure you express your gratitude. FedEx drivers are not allowed to accept tips. However, if package deliveries are made to your apartment often, consider leaving a thank-you note or card for them to show your appreciation.

Can your package be delivered to a leasing office?

Depending on the kind of relationship you have with the landlord, property manager, or leasing agent, the leasing office may or may not be a place you like to frequent. It’s always a good idea to stay on good terms with the office employees – you may need to have your packages delivered to the leasing office.

Start by asking your property manager/landlord if they can receive your package deliveries on your behalf

Always start by inquiring about the rules and regulations regarding package deliveries. Although most leasing and management offices have no qualms about accepting your packages, it doesn’t hurt to ask about their policy on the matter.

If you live in a laid-back community, they will likely have no issue holding on to your package for you until you pick it up. However, if the office management has stringent rules in place, you will probably have a certain amount of time to pick up your item before they no longer keep it safe for you. If not picked up in good time, the property manager may send your package back to the carrier, especially if they tried multiple times to get in contact with the intended recipient (you) without getting a response.

The abundance of package deliveries to residents can take a toll on the employees in your apartment’s leasing/management office, especially during the holidays when people start to panic buy essentials or when online shopping for the season increases substantially. These employees have to handle the process of receiving, signing for (if required), logging, storing, and contacting residents about their delivered packages. 

Some apartment communities have adopted more innovative technology to eliminate this issue, such as computerized parcel lockers that notify residents when their packages have arrived and concierge services that accept packages. 

Reasons why you may not be allowed to have your packages delivered to the leasing office

Your landlord/property manager has the right to refuse package delivery at the leasing office. They may prefer to direct the parcel carrier to your front door. This may be because they do not have enough space to receive the deliveries, are receiving an abundance of deliveries, or have a hard time getting residents to pick up their packages.

Tips for properly receiving packages sent to your apartment

There are a couple of things you can do to help your mail and parcel carriers to get your packages to your apartment correctly and on time.

1. Choose a secure place to deliver

Before you place an order for a package, make sure you have a safe and reliable place where you can have it delivered. This can be your doorstep, your apartment community’s leasing office, or any other area you consider to be secure.

2. Make sure you enter your apartment address correctly

You may not receive your package if you don’t write your address correctly. You may also experience problems filing a claim for package theft if the apartment address format is incorrect. Here are guidelines on how to write a well-formatted apartment address to ensure you properly receive your packages:

  • Use your legal name

Before you write your apartment address, make sure you use your legal name. If you just moved into a new apartment building, your packages and mail might not arrive if you’re using a nickname that isn’t associated with your new address.

  • Write your address with the apartment number on one line

According to USPS, using multiple address lines for your apartment address format is incorrect. Your name should go on the top line, then your whole street number, apartment address, and apartment number go on the second line. You can use the third line to fill in your city, state, and ZIP code. Make sure you add a comma after the street address when entering your apartment address online. Here is an example:

John Doe

222 Central Street, Building B, Apartment 2

Los Angeles, LA 22222

If you don’t enter your address correctly (but it’s close enough), many websites will automatically provide you with a recommended (and approved) address by their chosen parcel carrier. This is quite helpful, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check that you’ve entered your apartment number correctly in the provided address lines. 

3. Choose an apartment that has postal features

When you’re on the hunt for rental units, keep an eye out for the community’s mail features, such as the existence of an outdoor mail area or a well-kept mail room. You’ll also want to look for USPS-approved parcel lockers, a secure location by the unit’s front door for package deliveries, and the leasing office’s policy on package holding for tenants. 

How can you protect your apartment packages?

With the recent surge in online purchasing, package theft has also become rampant. Stolen packages cost you money, time, and energy, which makes preventing your packages from being stolen in the first place so important.

1. Have your packages delivered inside your home

Unfortunately, most packages are delivered on weekdays when many people are at work. Some services allow you to make arrangements to have your package delivered inside your home, usually with the help of a smart lock or doorbell.

2. Have your package shipped to store instead

In addition to UPS Access Points and Amazon Locker, many other companies offer to ship packages directly to a store (often at no additional cost) so that you can pick up your orders there at your convenience. These are great options that allow you to have peace of mind knowing where your packages are until you can safely collect them.

3. Receive notifications to track your package

Knowing exactly when you’ll receive your package allows you to make plans to pick it up. Online ordering and delivery technology have advanced in leaps and bounds to the point where you can track your package from the moment it leaves the shipping house until it is finally delivered to your doorstep. 

All major carriers offer customers free basic tracking notifications that allow you to receive email or text confirmation of each step of your package’s shipping process. Some carriers like Amazon even let you watch your package move from one stop to another for the last half hour or so before you receive it. Most shippers also allow you to add specific instructions to place a package in a provided location. For particularly important packages, you can require a signature during delivery.

4. Ask a neighbor to receive your package for you

If your package is delivered early or you simply can’t be home to receive it yourself, call or text a neighbor who might be home and ask them if they can pick it for you and hang on to it until you get home. It might be a good idea to discuss with a few trusted neighbors ahead of time and agree to take turns picking each other’s packages if they’re delivered when the resident isn’t home and either let each other know who has the package or move them to a more secure location.

5. Enhance security

While not all apartment complexes will allow you to upgrade security features on your own, it doesn’t hurt to inquire. Installing a camera at your door or a doorbell that comes with a camera allows you to see who comes to your doorstep. If it’s a delivery person, you can simply ask them to leave packages in a discreet location.

Final thoughts

More and more people prefer ordering things online to physical stores to buy food, cosmetics, shoes, clothes, and more. When choosing an apartment, you also need to factor in the possibilities for delivery of mail and packages. Take your time to do your research, and hopefully, you’ll find a unit with efficient postal facilities.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

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