Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team
If you haven’t installed a mailbox before, you may be surprised to know how many rules there are surrounding your mailbox. Your mail carrier needs proper clearance around your mailbox to deliver your mail. If your mailbox is blocked in any way, you may miss out on your mail that day.
But what if the obstruction isn’t your fault, and your neighbor has decided to park in front of your mailbox? Is this illegal, and what can you do about it?
Can My Neighbor Park In Front Of My Mailbox
Late mail or deliveries is a problem that can occur if your mailbox is blocked. While parking in front of another person’s mailbox is considered rude, it is only illegal in some states. For example, the California Vehicle Code states that parking within 10 feet or in front of a mailbox is against the law. This law is active from 8 am to 7 pm each day, apart from Sundays or federal holidays.
If your state hasn’t passed any laws making obstructing mailboxes illegal, then parking in front of a mailbox isn’t a criminal offense. However, there may be an exception if cars aren’t allowed to park on that particular street. If cars are allowed to park on your street, then you won’t be able to count on the law to make someone move their car.
Clearance Needed Around A Mailbox
The United States Postal System has many regulations, so it can be frustrating if someone’s car is preventing you from receiving your mail. The USPS states that proper clearance is a clear distance of 30 feet. There must be 15 feet before your mailbox and 15 feet after it. If your mailbox is part of a bank or several boxes, there must be a clear 15 feet before the first box and 15 feet following the last one.
These rules are necessary, as this gives the USPS enough room to park next to the mailbox, deliver their parcels, and then drive back into the road. The space also allows them to see any children, pedestrians, or pets that could cause safety issues.
A city and locality can also have clearance requirements. The postal service won’t come after you for parking 20 feet away from a mailbox, but your city government may think differently. Find out what the clearance rules are for your area before you next park your car.
What Counts As A Blocked Mailbox
Cars are just one potential issue, but other obstacles can prevent the USPS from delivering your mail. These include trash cans, snow, and large bushes. It may sound ridiculous, but even children’s toys can stop your mail carrier from doing their job.
In the case of cold weather, make sure that you always remove snow and ice that settles around your mailbox, especially if it keeps preventing you from receiving your mail. You must do the same for bushes, large plants, or flowers that grow around or near your mailbox. Your mail carrier can ask you to remove any obstacles if they can’t reach your mailbox from inside their car.
Can The Mail Carrier Skip Your House?
The United States Postal System does allow mail carriers to pass any houses that have a blocked mailbox. This includes mailboxes that are too full, as this prevents carriers from delivering new mail. Another reason why mail carriers may skip your house is your mailbox’s measurements.
Too tall or short mailboxes can be difficult to reach from the carrier’s car. Mailboxes have exact rules dictating their height, size, and distance from the curb.
The postal service is designed to be quick and efficient. If your carrier had to get out of the car at every house, the route would take too long to complete. This is why the USPS allows carriers to skip houses that don’t have the permitted 30 feet clearance around their mailbox.
The postal service can also refuse to deliver your mail permanently if this continues to be an issue. This means that you’ll have to travel to the post office to get your mail.
Mail carriers can also refuse delivery if there are safety concerns. A common instance is if a dog isn’t properly restrained. Another example is if a household member makes threats against a mail carrier. In this case, carriers are permitted to immediately refuse service. They can also do this if there are dangerous weather issues or natural disasters.
Mailboxes must meet a specific set of regulations so that mail delivery is as quick and efficient as possible. All mailbox styles and designs must be approved by the Postmaster General. You cannot use a box that hasn’t been approved. Mailboxes on sale should have this certification signposted clearly.
If you want to use a wall-mounted mailbox, you’ll have to talk to your post office beforehand. Only some houses will be allowed to use these, as the rules vary from place to place. In most cases, wall-mounted boxes can only be used in places where the mail carrier walks. Elderly or disabled individuals can make a request at the post office for delivery straight to their door.
Mailboxes on the curb have to face the road, but there are rare instances where you may be asked to move your box to a different place or direction. These are normally due to safety reasons, but mailboxes in most areas will face the road.
Your house number must be visible and easy to read. The numbers should be at least an inch tall and the box should be between 6-8 inches from the curb. The slot or door should be high enough for the carrier to reach while sitting in their vehicle, from 41- 45 inches up from the floor.
Your mailbox post also has specific rules to ensure that drivers are safe if an accident occurs. Steel or aluminum posts shouldn’t be larger than 2 inches wide. Wooden posts cannot be greater than 4 inches x 4 inches. These rules are necessary, as they allow the post to bend easily if a vehicle collides with a mailbox.
What Can You Do If A Neighbor Blocks Your Mailbox
It is your responsibility to keep your mailbox free from obstruction, which is annoying if the block isn’t your fault.
If your state has laws against obstructing a mailbox, you can call your township and ask for assistance. They can ticket or tow the offender’s car away. Some areas also let you have someone’s car towed if they are blocking your home. If you’re unsure, you can contact a local tow service to ask about the rules in your area.
You can also try putting up a ‘no parking’ sign of your own near your mailbox. Some areas may already have these signs in place. If you’ve tried everything with no success, try talking to your local mail carrier.
If they understand that it isn’t your fault, they may be willing to make an exception. Communicating with the post office may also prevent them from permanently dropping your mail service.