Tip #27

Use a PO Box for Your Rental Properties

Written on March 27, 2013 by , updated on October 2, 2015

Use a PO Box for Rental Properties

Renting a Post Office Box (or PO Box) is a fantastic way create some separation between you and your tenants.  As a landlord, I often need to provide a mailing address – whether it’s to my tenants or service contractors.  However, I don’t want my tenants to have my home address.

Why?  Because I want to protect myself from crazies.

Most tenants are harmless, but every once in a while, you meet a crazy one – I’m talking about a real nut job.  This type of tenant will show up at your home, unannounced, if given the opportunity and curse you for not allowing them to break the lease. They are boundary breakers and don’t have a great sense of right and wrong.

What’s a PO Box?

Standard PO Box

Standard PO Box

A PO Box is a mailbox that you rent at the local post office for a small fee.  They are very inexpensive, starting at $80/year, and allows you to keep your home address hidden. I have one PO box that I give to all my tenants and put in all my leases.

The only negative factor is that I still have to drive to the Post Office to check the mail.  However, I only get snail mail from my tenants a few times a year because I use Cozy to process their electronic rent payments.  Read More about PO Boxes at USPS.com.

Tenants are Customers

I believe, that my tenants are my “customers”, and I don’t think it is appropriate for my customers to know where I live.  Even if you operate your rental business from an office in your home, the PO Box can be used for all mailing correspondences – as should be designated as such in your leases.

Just think, you probably don’t know where your Lawyer, Accountant, or Electrician lives – and believe me, that is intentional.  Being a landlord is no different from any other business.  Your Friends and Family should know where you live – your customers should not.

photo credit: mrjoro via cc
photo credit: robertstinnett via cc
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21 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Unicor

    Hi Lucas
    I am wondering is there a law that says tenants have to have an address where to serve me in person/ substitute service if they are not in agreement with the refund of their deposit and want to go to court?
    Or the physical address of the po box
    Will do? That is what I have given them in the lease.
    Thanks for your answer

  • Amber

    I was wondering. If a landlord uses a p.o. box for rent when is rent considered “in hand”? Is it considered in hand as soon as it’s delivered to a p.o. box or only once the landlord picks up the mail? I’m in arizona

    • Lucas Hall


      My best guess would be that delivery to the PO box would be adequate. But how are you really proving it unless you are sending it certified. Why not just ask your landlord if you can pay rent online like the rest of your bills? Cozy.co is a great option for that.

  • Jamiel Strickland

    Is it tax-advantages to have your business name in your home address instead of a P.O. box?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jamiel

      I don’t know of any tax advantages of using a PO box. However, The real advantage of using a PO box is that you can keep some privacy.

  • Parama Chattopadhyay

    What if I have a leased rental agreement for the next year, but a very shrewd realtor is trying to pawn off like it doesn’t exist? He wants to sell the house ASAP and is playing every game in the book to make his money’s worth, though I have a signed and written lease by the landlord. He says that it must be mailed and seen for it to be legit. Is this true? I did place it in certified mail. I know I have rights, but of course he is trying to get his money more quickly by first, asking my landlady to leave and “take care of herself” elsewhere while he sells the house, and trying to deceive her. What to do? An open house was today, and it was clear that they were talking to the potential buyers as though I would not have rights.

  • Jesse

    Is there any legislation stating for the state of California that a landlord must provide a physical address that isn’t a PO Box for contact?

  • Roberta

    On the subject of not revealing ones physical address, what about email address? Should I create another email address just for our rental property for correspondence?

  • Alicia Hernandez

    My landlord is refusing to return my security deposit & the only address I have for her is a po box, how do I have her served?

    • Jon Skye

      @ Alicia Hernandez -If the PO Box is the legal address for the landlord, then any notice served to that address is their responsibility to collect in a timely manner.
      If you take them to court, I’m no lawyer, but you win by default if they don’t bother to turn-up to contest the case, right?
      Why worry about their methods, if they’re more likely to help you win?
      Or is the legal system different in your jurisdiction?
      None of the above is legal advice, I am just playing devil’s advocate a bit. Check for yourself.

  • Jon Skye

    “I believe, that my tenants are my “customers”, and I don’t think it is appropriate for my customers to know where I live.”
    Er, YOU get to know where THEY live, though. That could also cause problems for THEM, landlord harassment is a known phenomenon.
    When doing business, it’s nice to treat people like a member of a team – you perform a service for them, they pay you for it.
    Of course, when it’s a top-down exploitative paradigm, then sure, “crazies” get generated faster by the whole nature of the pressure involved, and that’s not your fault, right, since you’re not contributing to exploitation and the inherent stress involved, RIGHT?
    See the problem is, hypocrites being protected from responsibility. Crazies are typically a scapegoat.

  • Water

    What happens if tenants live on your property? What happens than? I’ve thinking about not allowing the tenants use my address to send packages too but instead a PO box, is that possible?

  • Sandy small

    What if tenant only left a street address that is a PO BOX in another county to return the deposit to and not a personal address?

  • Justin Thompson

    Sorry, 1962

  • roberts549

    We rent a guest house in CA on the same physical address as the Landlords. We have a PO Box for our mail but somehow junk mail is sent to the physical address. This upsets the Landlords. How can I prevent any mail going to the shared physical address? Also, do the Landlords have the right to tell us that our packages, fed-ex, etc CANNOT be delivered to the physical address? It it law that the Landlords must provide a physical address for us renters?

  • Joey

    I’m a landlord, one of my renter is using a PO Box as her address when we are signing the lease document
    Is this something I should worry about? If she defaults on payments and gone…

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