Mail Room Procedures and Etiquette

June 2024

A mail room is the most frequently used space in a residential building as residents check mail on a nearly daily basis.  As a central area of the building, many mail rooms include a bulletin board or electronic monitor for communicating with residents.

How Mail Delivery Works

Mail is delivered by an employee of Canada Post.  Only they have access to the back area mail room to insert mail in private mailboxes.  This back area and the mailbox are inaccessible to building management or employees.  Larger items, those requiring a signature on delivery, and anything delivered by a private delivery service are not to be left in a mailbox or mail room.

The vast amount of mail is delivered and retrieved without problem.  The most common problems to occur are misdelivered mail and handling of unwanted mail.

Unwanted Mail

Unwanted mail can be flyers and other unsolicited materials, or misdelivered mail.

Unwanted mail, after being removed from the mailbox, should be taken to the unit for disposal.  If a waste or recycling bin is provided in the mail room area, unwanted items should be disposed of in the bin.

Under no circumstances should unwanted mail be left on the floor, ledges or table in any common area.  If your community has a rule against this, as is likely, unit owners may be put on notice that a repeat improper disposal offense could result in a chargeback for cleaning or other costs resulting from these actions.

Misdelivered Mail

Misdelivered mail is that which is delivered to an incorrect address by Canada Post.  In some buildings this can be returned to the concierge as misdelivered mail.  They will contact the appropriate individual if they reside in the building, or return it to the postal carrier.  Some communities allow misdelivered mail to be left on a ledge in the mailroom for others to retrieve.  If no other options exist, write “misdelivered” on the front of the envelope and push to the back of the empty mailbox for retrieval by the postal carrier.

Discarding or destruction of misdelivered mail, while not necessarily illegal, is disrespectful.  Everyone has their mail misdelivered from time to time.  Treat someone else’s mail as you would like your personal mail to be treated if mistakenly delivered elsewhere.  Return it to the postal system so it can be delivered to its intended recipient.

Improperly Delivered Mail

Certain services require a signature to confirm receipt of mail or packages.  One example of this is Express Mail which is used to deliver time sensitive or important documents such as passports.  It is not uncommon for the postal carrier to misdeliver these items by failing to obtain a signature.

Government and other agencies charge consumers a premium for their use of signature-required postal services, yet there is no way to verify the recipient of this mail when delivered by Canada Post without a signature being obtained.  If you truly require proof of delivery, it is best to utilize a private delivery service which ensures a signature is provided when the appropriate service is paid for by the sender.

Condo management has no control over how residents handle misdelivered mail nor how Canada Post operates.  They can advise residents of how to dispose of unwanted mail and how best to return misdelivered mail.

Private Delivery Services

Private delivery services are more secure and reliable than postal services.  They are more diligent in obtaining a signature prior to releasing items.  If items are misdelivered, their tracking systems allow an item to be found, retrieved and properly delivered.

Private delivery services are the preferred choice for valuable packages and important documents.

Private delivery services do not have access to building mailboxes.

In buildings where private delivery services are not accepted, residents must be home at the time packages are delivered or make arrangements for an alternate delivery location.

Most communities accept deliveries from private delivery services.  They may accept packages, including signature-required or larger package deliveries from the postal service.  Once accepted, these packages will be stored and residents informed on their arrival.  Condo management software and applications, such as UpperBee, provide technology for managing package deliveries.

Increasingly popular for dealing with deliveries from private delivery services is the use of secure smart parcel lockers such as those provided by Coinamatic.  Packages can be delivered and retrieved without involving concierge/security.  Residents are informed electronically when a package arrives for them and provided with retrieval instructions.

Our increasingly wired and electronic society still and will always require a way to securely receive items.  Residential buildings failing to provide a secure system of receiving mail and packages likely struggles with additional safety and security concerns.