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Subject: Mailboxes in common area of a multi-dwelling building
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Author Messages
ChristopherI
(California)

Posts:1


01/05/2020 3:10 PM  
We have recently experienced mailbox break-ins in our building. Our mailboxes are in a cluster in the lobby of our building. The Board is having a discussion as to who is responsible for the lock replacement for the damaged boxes. Some of us want the homeowners to replace the locks and some of us think the HOA (via the Board) should initiate the repairs and charge the respective homeowners. There is no language in our documents that address the mailboxes specifically. Historically we have made some repairs to the boxes themselves and some locks have been replaced by our very informal maintenance committee. Should the HOA repair the locks or the individual homeowners?

Thanks!
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3495


01/05/2020 5:02 PM  
I could be wrong but I think the USPS says the owner of the CBU is responsible. I don't think the indivudual USPS customers typically own their mailbox. I suppose that might depend on the association's governing documents. Otherwise, I'd say the building owns the mailboxes and is responsible for repair and maintenance as a common expense. Additional security in the form of cameras or what have you to curb vandalism in the lobby would surely be a common expense, too.
AugustinD


Posts:2411


01/05/2020 5:04 PM  
If the governing documents are truly silent on this point, then I think California Civil Code 4145 kicks in. From https://www.davis-stirling.com/HOME/Statutes/Civil-Code-4145:

"(b) Unless the declaration otherwise provides, any shutters, awnings, window boxes, doorsteps, stoops, porches, balconies, patios, exterior doors, doorframes, and hardware incident thereto, screens and windows or other fixtures designed to serve a single separate interest, but located outside the boundaries of the separate interest, are exclusive use common area allocated exclusively to that separate interest."

(Some will say the inside belongs to the United States Postal Service; whatever. To me, the inside is assuredly not the condo association's to be tampering with.) Individual owners are typically responsible for the maintenance of exclusive use common areas. To me this would include maintenance of the lock. If this is the typical locked mailbox, replacing the lock is pretty easy.

Also if the condo association undertakes repair of these locks, then I think this tends to oblige the association to fix any lock that fails in the future. These locks do get worn and require replacement over time.

See also https://www.davis-stirling.com/HOME/Exclusive-Use-Area
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6817


01/05/2020 5:19 PM  
As much as I admire Augie's research, I think it's pff base this time. Cluster mailboxes are not "designed to serve a single separate interest" but the whole community or a large segment of the community.

We have cluster mailboxes in mailrooms off our 2 lobbies for our two high rise towers. Though not mentioned at all in our documents, as a common area component, they are on our reserve study and the HOA is completely responsible for their maintenance, repair & replacement.

If yours aren't on your reserve study, Chris, suggest that they be added.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8922


01/05/2020 7:31 PM  
Our HOA was NOT responsible for replacement of locks. That is up to the owner or the mail carrier will do it. Consult the Postal service when dealing with postal break-ins. They are responsible entity NOT local police. Mailbox break-ins are covered under FEDERAL laws. Plus the Postal service has their own entire "police". Postal inspectors anyone?

We had to deal with this. Including having a Sheriff's deputy having their child support check stolen. My last paycheck was stolen as well. They knew who was doing it and the bank the thieves were using. We couldn't touch the situation nor our local police. It was all on the postal department.

BTW: You can buy the locks at Home Depot/Lowes for like 5 to 10 dollars. The mail carrier would replace them for free if you left it in the box. However, keep in mind NOTHING is to be put in the box without a stamp on it. Exception would be the locks IF talk to the mail carrier to make arrangements. Our Ex-President (con-man) would charge people $20 install fee on top of buying their own locks. So be careful of someone offering to do this for money. It could be a "free" service provided by the Mail service if buy the lock. Don't want anyone ripped off.

Former HOA President
JohnH38
(South Carolina)

Posts:78


01/06/2020 7:58 AM  
My mailbox was recently stolen by the board president ***, although it cannot be proven.

Does it behooves the association to replace it? Our governing documents are silent on the topic.

Thanks

*** part of an ongoing harassment.
JohnH38
(South Carolina)

Posts:78


01/06/2020 7:59 AM  
My mailbox was recently stolen by the board president ***, although it cannot be proven.

Does it behooves the association to replace it? Our governing documents are silent on the topic.

Thanks

*** part of an ongoing harassment.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8922


01/06/2020 3:21 PM  
Did you contact the police or the postal department of the theft? The Postal Service is ultimate authority when it comes to mailbox issues like theft. Your most likely responsible for replacement, maintenance, and repairs. Why make all your neighbors responsible for having the HOA pay for it? There is a difference between the HOA acting badly and an individual person doing it.

Former HOA President
JohnH38
(South Carolina)

Posts:78


01/06/2020 4:42 PM  
Melissa,

The police is filing a report. The association may or may not replace it, they are under no obligation though. Case closed.

Thanks
MarkM19
(Texas)

Posts:506


01/06/2020 5:18 PM  
I agree mostly with what Melissa has to say on this topic. The only thing I would say is I would not count on the Mail Carrier doing the replacement unless Cliff Klavin is your mailman. I have been around for a while in HOAs and most Postal employees are not very friendly or versed in Customer Service.

Home Depot or Lowes does have replacement locks for under $10.00 I would take a picture of you open mailbox to make sure you get a similar lock. They usually have a few options so get the right one. Also practice using the couple of tools required which is usually just a wrench and Philips screw driver. If you have a key you should do this during the day and have an ID on you if anyone challenges you asking what you are doing. If you have lost your key or Keys you will need the mailperson to open the service panel so you can get access to your box. It is important that you ask nicely and explain what you need to do. They may want to watch you to make sure you are not bothering anyone else's box.

Done it a few times. With the right new lock and a few tools it is a 5 minute job.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:858


01/06/2020 9:59 PM  
Keep this in mind about mailbox break-ins. criminals have a master key to the mailbox, I'm referring to the big brass key that opens everything, the big blue mailbox on the street corner, your cluster boxes and your telephone entry system, that has a key especially for the USPS. Not much can be done until the USPS wises up and change all the locks on mailboxes nation wide. That would mean apartments and HOA's would have to change the USPS lock on all their call boxes.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:6817


01/06/2020 10:08 PM  
I don't think Melissa is talking about cluster mailboxes in a common area, MarkM. If they are, then like ours, they probably are also defined as common and are or should be on the reserve study.

In chris' case, the cluster mailboxes are in the interior common area and, it seems to me, should be on their reserves study.
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