Online Shopping: A Boon For Shoppers, A Burden for Community Associations?

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Online Shopping: A Boon For Shoppers, A Burden for Community Associations?

A recent article in the Washington Post discusses how many online shoppers are shipping to their work addresses as a result of rampant doorstep package theft.  How is your association handling the influx of brown paper packages?  If you are a condominium built prior to 2000, chances are your front lobby area was not built with sufficient space to store the number of packages which may now be arriving on a regular basis.  In addition to the general increase in online shopping (which increased on Black Friday nearly 17% since last year), more types of retailers are now offering items conveniently shipped to your home.  You can get clothes (Stitch Fix, MM LaFleur), writing supplies (InkFlight), makeup and beauty supplies (BirchBox, Ipsy), and even many types of food (Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Sunbasket).

Given this increase in package deliveries, what can a community association do to combat theft and general hassle of managing all of these items?  One property management website had several positive ideas, below:  (Hat tip to All Property Management for this list!)

Here are a few strategies from for package delivery management at your property:

1. Relinquish responsibility. Unless you have an on-site management office where staff can receive packages for residents, be sure to specify that you’re not responsible for deliveries that are lost, damaged, or stolen. A simple email reminder may be warranted as the holiday season approaches.

2. Install an oversized mailbox. If space allows, consider installing an oversized mailbox that can accommodate packages (18 x 18 x 24 inches should do the trick). This won’t solve all of your package delivery challenges, but it will at least keep a portion of the deliveries hidden from view.

3. Utilize smart locks. As building technology becomes more sophisticated, the number of smart lock solutions has continued to grow. In smaller apartment buildings, you might consider installing a smart lock system on your front door. Carriers could use a special code to unlock the front door, allowing them to leave packages in the foyer or other common area without having access to individual rental units.

4. Invest in package lockers. Amazon announced last month that it would start partnering with apartment buildings to offer Amazon Hubs: locker systems that can receive deliveries fulfilled by Amazon. Amazon will experiment with allowing other carriers to deliver their packages to those hubs as well. 

Amazon also now offers an Amazon Key — an internet-controlled lock that Amazon delivery personnel can use to drop off your packages inside your house.  At least one recent journalist has indicated that he regretted allowing that much access to the ecommerce giant.  It remains to be seen what legal implications will arise from this new technology, but this lawyer can certainly think of many potential problems:  What constitutes a breaking and entering if a rogue driver decides to linger in your house?  What happens if the lock is hacked?  And the Amazon Key does nothing to help owners or communities with common mailboxes or package delivery reception desks.

So, when you are out there in the vast world of online shopping, clicking away to your heart’s content, remember that your package purchases can cause headaches for your association.  And if you are on the board of the association, take some time to consider whether you are utilizing the best methods for protecting packages and security at your property!