It’s something many South Florida residents living in single-family homes take for granted – the convenience of having mail delivered to their homes. But more than a dozen homeowners in Miami-Dade County contacted NBC 6 Responds, after moving into their newly constructed homes and learning they won’t be receiving curbside mail delivery from USPS.
"We’ve been going through a circus to be able to get our mail," said Gus Arana.
Arana moved into his new home in unincorporated Miami-Dade County in April 2016. He said the developer told him to install a mailbox, request a change of address and wait for the mail to arrive.
"We did that and nothing happened," he said.
No mail for Arana or any of the other six owners of the single-family homes that are part of the same development.
"We don’t receive packages," he said. "We’ve had issues with our bank."
One of Arana’s neighbors told NBC 6 she even had her license suspended thanks to a red light camera ticket she never received.
Meanwhile, miles away in a different development, a similar situation has played out.
"It’s an understatement to say frustration," said Cristina Rhodes, a new homeowner in Cutler Bay. "It really is way beyond the boiling point."
Rhodes and her neighbors have had similar headaches. Both groups of homeowners contacted their representatives in Congress and one even wrote the president.
"What can we do to make it happen," Rhodes said.
"I just want to get my mail," said Victor Joa Blanco. "Please, somebody help us."
USPS has said they believe cluster mailboxes – instead of individual curbside mailboxes – are the most efficient delivery option. The postal service told us – in both cases – they’ve decided these homes will receive "centralized delivery", citing a 2012 postal bulletin which gives the postal service "autonomy in determining the modes of delivery when adding new deliveries." That same bulletin still requires meetings with "builders and developers early in the process to ensure the best choices are made."
But the developers of the homes in question told NBC 6 they didn’t know about the policy and postal service’s decision on the mode of delivery until months after the homes had been built and sold.
"We should have been told," said Fernando Martinez, the developer of the project and a resident of the homes in Cutler Bay. "The horse has left the stable, they’re trying to close the gate and that’s not the solution."
He said he has built other single-family homes in the area after 2012 and has never had this issue come up, even though he didn’t do anything differently.
"For mail delivery, we’ve never had to do anything," Martinez said.
The town of Cutler Bay told us they had never seen this policy enforced until now and they’re concerned about how it will impact the community.
"Our preference will always be, when it comes to single-family homes, … to have individual mailboxes," said Rafael Casals, Cutler Bay town manager. "We want to preserve that neighborhood feel."
The fight for mail delivery, ironically, seems to have reinforced the ties between neighbors.
"The only good thing about this, I think, is that it’s brought us all together, which is pretty cool," said Arana.
For now, both groups of homeowners have to drive to the post office to get their mail. The postal service told us a development across the street from Arana and his neighbors will be installing a cluster box unit and will include them. The developer of the Cutler Bay homes told NBC 6 he filed an appeal with the postal service but never received a response. He is working to install a cluster box for the 10 homes on his street, he said.
The USPS declined requests for an on-camera interview.
If you’re buying new construction, make sure you’re clear on the mode of delivery from the developer so there aren’t any surprises.