More Packages, More Problems

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A recent survey by analytics firm comScore and the United Postal Service has revealed that consumers now make 51% of their purchases online. And according to an august.com study, 26% of homeowners receive at least one package every week. As more consumers continue to shop with online retailers and utilize same-day shipping options and prepared meal services, the number of package deliveries will only increase. This has created a particular issue for Associations as Property Managers and Board Members are left with the question of how to organize this delivery influx.

Package Handling Issues

While new construction developers have designed newer buildings to be better equipped to handle the increase of packages (with larger storage rooms or installation of lockers), older Associations that have had to deal with this have a particular problem as they were built when deliveries were a rarity.

Additionally, Associations are addressing growing concerns of parcel security and theft. For example, if a person is not available to accept a package, then the delivery person can leave it in a place they deem “secure; a designation assessed differently by each carrier service.

USPS Regulations

The United States Postal Service has addressed these issues by rolling out new requirements for parcel storage for new construction or remodeling of existing mailrooms.

“ Parcel Locker to Customer Compartment Ratio – A minimum of one standard parcel locker shall be provided for every ten customer compartments. For installation sites with less than ten customer compartments, there shall be no mandatory parcel locker requirement, however, it shall be the intent of the Postal Service to strongly encourage the inclusion of a parcel locker”

However, if your Association is not looking to remodel their mailroom anytime soon, there are other options.

Package Handling Options

Having a designated front desk or property management staff member accept and store packages at a multi-unit residential building is a common solution. For example, many downtown Chicago buildings have an on-site valet that handle tasks such as laundry service and package delivery. However, as the increase in packages has eaten up a noticeable amount of time front desk employees otherwise would dedicate to other administrative tasks, some Associations have also instituted a package storage fee on a per package basis. Alternatively, some communities have added a flat package delivery fee to the assessments as a “common expense.”

The idea of paying an extra fee on top of shipping and handling may not sit well with some residents. It can be hard to explain the necessity of such charges and the Board and/or Property Manager may be faced with the difficult task of explaining the validity of the decision. Communities must evaluate if residents would rather pay an extra fee to ensure the security of their already purchased items or compromise their safe-keeping by simply refusing to pay a small fee.

Services and Technology

It is important to remind residents that there are alternatives if they choose to opt out of the Association’s services.

Doorman is a service that receives deliveries and allows residents to schedule a time for drop-off. UPS Access points via My Choice gives residents the option to use local businesses as pick-up sites for their packages. Because an increase in packages also means an increase in potential theft, these options are also ideal for a building that does not have an on-site manager or front desk employee to handle deliveries.

If your building does not have a front desk employee or security personnel, there are other ways Associations can provide technological alternatives to having a person on staff to accept and store residents’ packages that also ensures the safety of delivered items.

Delivery management services such as Parcel Pending can be used by multi-unit buildings. These systems typically send an e-mail or text alerting the resident that their package has been delivered and kept safely in lockers installed on the premises. If the resident does not pick up the package within a few days, a fee is charged for the storage. BuildingLink and Verizon Concierge also both give prompt notice when a package has been delivered to building along with other property management benefits.

Association residents do not have to trip over boxes on their way into the building. If your community does not have a package handling policy or would like to review your existing procedures, contact your attorney today.

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Amy Peterselli

Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit


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