How to Ask Your Neighbor to Get Your Mail While on Vacation

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How to Ask Your Neighbor to Get Your Mail While on Vacation

Lisa Bernstein · Sep 16, 2009

As an apartment dweller, you may have wondered how to ask your neighbor to get your mail for you while you are on vacation. Asking for favors from someone outside your family or circle of friends can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Planning your approach and taking the right tone will increase the odds of successfully obtaining assistance from neighbors, when you are away from home.

Step 1: Preparing for Vacation Time

As part of the vacation planning process, make a list of everything needing attention in your apartment during your vacation. One important item is your mail. For security reasons, it’s not wise to allow your mail to pile up in and around your mailbox in your absence. Criminals watch mailboxes to see if mail is being picked up. Accumulated mail leads them to assume that you are away, and encourages them to break into your apartment. 

Based on the size and location of your mailbox, consider what a neighbor would have to do to adequately pick up your mail for you. For example, would they have to hold your mail in their apartment until you come home, or would they have access to a place to leave it?  Determine how often they would have to pick up your mail to make it appear that someone is living in your apartment. Devise a clear request about what you want your neighbor to do for you.

Step 2: Choosing a Neighbor to Ask

Your choice of neighbor is as important as what you say to them. Your mail contains private information such as bills and bank account details. Prevent anyone you don’t trust from handling these documents. An untrustworthy neighbor might open your mail and use the information to steal your identity, or cause other problems for you. 

Use prior contact with neighbors to assess each one for honesty and reliability. After all, honesty is useless if they forget to pick up your mail.

Step 3: Approaching Your Neighbor

Whenever approaching a neighbor to ask for a favor, avoid times when they are busy. If they appear to be rushing off somewhere, don’t stop them. Wait for a better opportunity to make your request. Ideally, you should approach them when they are relaxing. Sitting around the pool or socializing in your apartment’s community room are good situations for starting a conversation.

Aside from being polite, convey an understanding that you are asking your neighbor for a favor. Show appreciation for their help. Also, indicate your willingness to return the favor at some future date.

Step 4: Handling Rejection

If your neighbor refuses to pick up your mail, express an understanding of why they can’t do it. Then, try asking another neighbor. Consider what the first neighbor’s objections were when asking the second neighbor. Addressing those factors up front may yield a better result.

Despite your best efforts, there may be times when none of your neighbors are willing to get your mail for you. In such cases, look for alternatives through your apartment’s management office or the U.S. Postal Service.

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Lisa Bernstein: As a long-time apartment dweller and seasoned condominium trustee, I have dealt with numerous landlord-tenant, property management, and day-to-day apartment complex issues. My extensive, direct experience has led to invaluable insights into apartment life from both the tenant and management perspectives.

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