In a typical apartment mail setup, can I leave outgoing mail in my own box?

I live in a large, sprawling apartment complex which extends the entire length of the block and has two street addresses, according to which part of the complex you live in. There are four sets of locked incoming mailboxes, two at each end of the complex. The only “official” outgoing mail slot is at the other end.

Obviously, I don’t mind walking a block to mail something, but I was curious about whether it’s absolutely necessary to do so.

As our mailboxes are configured, the mail carrier has to turn a single lock for each bank of mailboxes, which can then be pulled down to a slight angle allowing one full access to each individual box. Is there any reason the mail carrier can’t pick up my outgoing mail while the boxes are all unlocked? Is there a rule against it, or would they do it if I asked them?

I doubt that the mail person will look at the mail in your box to determine that the mail there is outgoing mail or you haven’t checked your mail since the last delivery.

My USPS letter carrier husband says it’s not a wise move - as you confirmed, the mailboxes are opened as a unit, tipping out from the wall, and the carrier may not even look down into each box to see if there’s mail in it before adding more. (Depending on how the boxes are built, it may even be difficult to look down into them.) He suggests if you really want to try it, put a note on your mailbox saying something like “outgoing mail inside” and that should help.

I used to do it all the time (before I found out there was an outgoing mail slot in the otherwise identical multi-unit box across the street), it usually worked fine (sometimes the outgoing mail would sit for a day or so).

Mail carriers have a lot of autonomy about such decisions, so it may be worth catching your carrier and asking his/her advice. He may have some idea for you, from asking your landlord to install another “outgoing” box on your end to devising a signal system the two of you understand.

Our own mail carrier suggested clipping outgoing envelopes to the flap of our mailbox with a largespring clamp. That way he sees it but it doesn’t run the risk of blowing away. It works for him and for us, although I’ve asked him to let me know if he changes routes, since I won’t assume it’s okay for another carrier without asking first.

Are you sure they don’t have a dropbox? Every apartment I’ve seen has a maildrop that the Post Office picks up.

I have a much smaller set of boxes - 12 boxes for me and my neighbors (all single-family homes). We don’t have an outgoing box, and our “signal” for outgoing mail is to place it in the box vertically/upright rather than horizontally/laying flat. Since the postman puts everything flat, he knows that anything placed vertically was put there by us.

On the other hand, he does miss it a couple times a year and I’ve taken to dropping mail off at the office where we have a dedicated outgoing slot.