Even if the process of your tenant moving out has been completed, it’s common for landlords to find themselves in a dilemma over what to do when they receive mail for these tenants. This article will provide tips to landlords on how to handle mail intended for former residents.

At times, your renters may forget to provide you with information about their new address and this can make it difficult to forward mail addressed to them. You can manage this situation by following the steps provided below.

What Are the Ways to Stop Mail From Former Renters?

Landlords have options they can utilize to deal with delivered mail intended for previous residents.

Hand the mail back to the postal carrier and write any of these messages on the envelope:

  • Return to sender
  • Moved
  • No longer at this address

Upon seeing this message, the postal carrier will pick up the mail to route it back to the originating post office. If there is a forwarding address available, the mail will be delivered to the new address of the previous renter. However, if no such address is found, the mail is redirected to the sender.

Mail can also contain barcodes that make it easy for the post office to sort them through an automated system. A barcode quickly matches the delivery address, so messages you may have written at the back, such as return to sender or moved out may go unrecognized by the system.

Someone grabbing a package from the floor

To circumvent the barcode system, landlords can choose to write over the barcode a message, such as “Not at this address”. This mark results in the post office system labeling the mail as “undeliverable”.

When the mail is sent back to the sender, a new address can be filled in so the mail is properly delivered to the tenant’s present address. The records of the post office can be updated so that all mail will be routed to the current address of your former renter.

Pen a friendly note inside the mailbox of your previous resident.

You can write “Previous Tenant (name) is no longer living at this address, please leave mail for Present Tenant (name) only.” Upon seeing this note, the mail carrier will avoid leaving mail addressed to the former renter.

However, if you still continue to receive mail intended for previous occupants despite leaving specific messages at the back of the mail. You can choose to be more upfront with the mail carrier by meeting them or dropping by the post office to update the Postmaster about the current situation.

Questions & Answers About Receiving Former Renters’ Mail

Do Landlords Have To Learn The New Address Of A Previous Renter?

Yes, it is beneficial for landlords to know the new address of a former resident since they need to communicate to send back the security deposit, any notices, or any legal documents should there be disputes or errors.

Someone carrying two packages through a door.

Can Landlords Open Or Throw Away Mail Addressed To A Former Tenant?

It is unlawful for landlords to read or discard mail intended for their previous renters. You might end up facing a 5-year prison term or a steep fine, as opening or destroying another person’s mail is tantamount to theft.

Can Landlords Complete A Change Of Address Form For A Previous Renter?

Filling out a form of Change of Address is only allowed if you are an executor, guardian, or authorized agent. Otherwise, you can be charged with a federal crime, which could lead to serving a prison term or paying a penalty.

What If A Tenant Is Deceased And Their Mail Continues To Arrive At The Old Rental Address?

Sometimes, the family of a deceased person can forget to take care of the deceased’s mail. Landlords can take the initiative of searching for the Direct Marketing Association website and typing the name of the deceased resident.

You can generally expect updates to be done in around three months. You can also scribble a message in the mail, such as “Deceased, Return to Sender” to inform the mail carrier. However, if you still continue to receive the mail of a deceased tenant, speak directly to the mail carrier or head to the post office to update the Postmaster.

How USPS Can Help

Although landlords have limited power in throwing away mail intended for their previous occupants, USPS has the authority to redirect letters with scribbled messages, such as not at this address or moved. If USPS categorizes the mail as undeliverable, it will be lawful for them to destroy it as long as no endorsements are found on the mail.

A USPS truck

Bottom Line

It can be annoying to deal with mail delivered to previous tenants. However, the steps outlined above can help landlords manage this issue. Just remember to keep the mail safe and store it properly to avoid any tampering, which can lead to imprisonment or a penalty payment.

If you’re seeking a trusted property manager to help you handle this kind of situation, contact Stringer Management today!