Here’s Why Your Landlord May Not Hold Your Holiday Packages
Life + Money

Here’s Why Your Landlord May Not Hold Your Holiday Packages

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‘Tis the season for free shipping and online shopping. Delivery companies are hiring more hands to distribute the deluge of holiday packages, but will your landlord be able to handle them?

Both FedEx and UPS anticipate record package volume this holiday season. FedEx is adding 55,000 extra workers to help out, while UPS is beefing up its payroll by 95,000. Many of these packages will end up in the lobbies of apartment buildings, where managers must figure out the best way to distribute them to residents.

At least one major apartment owner, Camden Property Trust, won’t hold resident deliveries this holiday season. The company says it needs to free up time for its on-site staff to deal with other property issues. Instead, packages will be left outside individual apartments.

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“We haven’t lost a lease or renewal because of the new policy,” says Julie Keel, a spokeswoman for the landlord. Camden, which owns and operates more than 62,000 apartment units in 10 states, began rolling out the new policy in the spring.

Keel said Camden’s residents received 1 million packages last year and it expected that number to jump by 30 percent to 50 percent this year. The apartment owner estimated that it lost about 10 minutes of productivity per package, at a cost of $3.3 million a year. Not anymore.

Fortunately for many renters, Camden is the exception rather than the rule in the apartment world — at least right now.

“As far as we know, Camden is the first to try this,” says Rick Haughey, vice president of industry technology initiatives at the National Multifamily Housing Council. “We surveyed some of the largest companies and about 90 percent said they accept packages on behalf of residents.”

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That doesn’t mean that landlords don’t find package delivery a problem. Quite the opposite, says Haughey. Managing the onslaught of deliveries takes staff away from other duties such as maintenance, repairs and security.

“Seven percent of retail purchases are online. What if that number doubles? What does that mean for packages and delivery?” Haughey says.

About a quarter of apartment operators have adopted package tracking software that sends automatic text messages to residents if they have a package, to cut down on the work for on-site staff. A smaller percentage are installing package lockers where deliveryman can leave a package. The locker’s system sends a text with a special code to the resident, who uses the code to unlock the locker and pick up the package.

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“We know that everyone is struggling with trying to find an answer,” Haughey says. “Camden is testing this approach, and I think the industry is watching to see how it plays out.”