LOS ANGELES — When receiving packages on behalf of his tenants, Isaac Montealegre has seen it all.

Sometimes, the delivery driver would leave random packages in the front of the lobby rather than at the foot of a tenant's door.

What You Need To Know

  • As more people shop online, package deliveries have become a growing issue in apartment buildings

  • Since the coronavirus pandemic began, more people have said they are receiving at least three packages a month

  • With 1.3 million apartment units in Los Angeles, the region could see 1 million packages a month

  • Apartment owners have beefed up security and installed package lockers to prevent porch piracy

Other times, the delivery driver would mark a package delivered when it was not, and the tenant would march down to the property manager's office, demanding to know where it was.

"It gets awkward and confrontational," said Isaac Montealegre, a property manager at One Santa Fe in the Arts District in Los Angeles. "For whatever reason, the delivery driver would mark a package delivered when it was not. So tenants would show the app on their phones, showing it was delivered when it was not. We don't have it."

What peeved Montealegre the most was when delivery drivers arrived to drop off a package at the building. 

The concierge at the front desk would need to step away and leave their post and escort the delivery driver to the correct path. Just those few minutes away from the desk could cause a security lapse or create a backup of eight to 10 people waiting in the lobby.

"The concierge needs to be at the front desk at all times," he said. 

As e-commerce grows and more people shop online, apartment building owners and property managers are grappling with how to deal with the overwhelming number of packages their tenants receive. 

According to a National Multifamily Housing Council survey released earlier this year, apartment dwellers had increased the number of package deliveries they receive, especially during the coronavirus pandemic when stay-at-home orders and lockdowns prevented them from going out. 

The report, which received input from over 220,000 renters in 79 markets, stated the share of renters who received two or fewer packages per month dropped from 45% in 2019 to just 24% in Jan. 2022. Meanwhile, the percentage of tenants who received three or more packages per month increased from 55% to 76% over the two years.

ButterflyMX, a prop tech access control company, said nationwide, tenants have received over 350,000 package deliveries in the first half of this year in the 8,000 buildings where their technology is set up. 

The number of package deliveries is a whopping 200% increase from last year's period. 

In the Los Angeles region, ButterflyMX expects apartment dwellers to increase the number of packages delivered to them by about 20% to 30% this year, said Aaron Rudenstine, CEO of Butterfly MX, to Spectrum News. 

Rudenstine said they gathered the number by analyzing the number of delivery drivers that come in and out of their buildings. Usually, a property manager gives a unique entrance code specifically for delivery drivers. 

"While we know how many times a delivery driver walks into a door, the data doesn't tell us how many packages that person is carrying," said Rudenstine. 

Regardless, Rudenstine said he knows the scope of the problem for apartment owners and property managers "is enormous." 

He said that with over 1.3 million apartments in the Los Angeles area, the expected package growth could cause nearly 1 million additional packages delivered every month. 

"And it's not slowing down or abating. It's accelerating," he said. 

According to the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, property owners also deal with package theft. It is a growing problem, with nearly 100,000 packages stolen daily just in the Los Angeles area, Dan Yukelson, the executive director of AAGLA, said. 

The problem is often under-reported to the police since retailers often return or refund items with no questions asked if the item is stolen, said Yukelson.

"Unfortunately, package theft will likely rise due to current economic conditions," said Yukelson in an email to Spectrum News. 

Yukelson said that in recent years, property owners had increased security by adding more security cameras in common areas. 

Larger properties, Yukelson said, are using companies like Parcel Pending to provide locked boxes, or tenants are being advised to direct packages to local UPS or FedEx stores or pick them up at an Amazon partnered retail location. 

One Santa Fe's electronic package locker at the Arts District in Los Angeles (Courtesy Berkshire)

Rudenstine said many of his clients are now converting the first-floor unit into a dedicated package room. Some are hiring more staff. Others are making make-shift lockers in the lobby. 

"Deliveries have become a pain point for building staff," said Rudenstine. "It takes away from their main responsibilities."

For Montealegre, he said they've had to increase staff in the lobby to handle the influx of package deliveries. 

Last year, they partnered with ButterflyMX to create an electronic package locker, where the delivery driver can drop off a package in any of the 100 lockers of all sizes, and tenants can pick it up.

"We didn't have to create an additional room. It's outside and far away from the street," said Montealegre. 

Montealegre said package deliveries are a growing issue across apartments nationwide. Soon, Berkshire Communities, the owner of One Santa Fe, plans to roll out the electronic package locker throughout their apartment communities nationwide.

"It's a free amenity to our residents and a great retention tool," he said.