Once your tenant leaves your rental, you may encounter another dilemma as a landlord, receiving mail from tenants that already left the unit. If the renter didn’t leave any new address to forward mail, then this becomes a burdensome affair for rental property owners.

If you’re currently experiencing this, we’ll guide you on how to handle this extra task and provide tips on how to avoid experiencing this situation from your future renters. Read the article to find out how to manage mail from former residents of your unit.

How to Stop Mail from Former Renters

Trying to decide what to do when mail from former tenants keeps arriving? Don’t stress and follow this step-by-step process. 

1. You can give the mail back to the postal carrier with the following messages on the envelope:

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

The carrier will then return the mail to the post office where it originated from. If a forwarding address is issued, then the post office will send it but if no forwarding address is provided, the mail will be sent back to the sender.

For envelopes with barcodes, an automated system is utilized by the post office for sorting the mail and the code matches the address it’s being delivered to. That means the note you’ve written will be ignored as the barcode ensures that the mail is delivered to your address. 

person holding mailed package

But you can still place a mark on the barcode and pen a message “Not at this address” next to it. With a marked barcode, the post office system will label the mail to be “undeliverable”.

2. You can place a friendly message inside the mailbox of the former tenant and write “Former Tenant (name) is no longer a resident of this address, please leave mail for Current Tenant (name) only.”

Mail carriers are likely to notice this and make the necessary changes in the future.

3. Speak with the carrier directly if mail still continues to show up despite a “Return to Sender” message and posting a note to the mail carrier. Alternatively, you can head to the post office to put an end to the mail delivery of a tenant who has since moved out.

Q&A About Receiving Past Tenants’ Mail 

Below are some commonly asked questions by landlords when receiving their previous tenants mail.

Do I need to care about knowing the new address of a former renter?

Yes. Aside from dealing with mail sent to former tenants, not getting a forwarding address can leave a landlord with issues. First, you need to send back the renter’s security deposit. Another would be needing to contact the renter if a legal proceeding is underway.

person on phone call

If you’re trying to collect for past rental dues and filing a case with the small claims court, letters and notices are required to be sent to your former renter.

Is it okay to check, shred or discard a previous renter’s mail?

No. It is illegal to open, shred, or throw away the mail of a former resident. In fact, you can be penalized by up to five years of imprisonment or with a stiff fine when you open mail that’s not yours since it counts as theft.

Is filling out a change of address form on behalf of a former renter permitted?

While you want to initiate the change by completing the Change of Address form, you’re only authorized to do it if you’re an executor, guardian, or authorized agent. Otherwise, it’s considered a federal crime and you could land in prison or be charged with a hefty fine.

What do I do if a tenant passed away and I still receive their mail?

To handle a deceased tenant’s mail, you can visit the DMA Choice website and type the name of your deceased tenant. Changes are likely to occur around three months. 

mailman holding deliveries

You can also write “Deceased, Return to Sender” on the mail or speak directly to the carrier or an employee in the post office. Your last option is to contact the companies directly, but this will take up a significant portion of your time.

Is throwing away mail from former renters allowed?

Landlords are not permitted to do this or destroy the mail of a previous tenant. Doing so subjects you to a federal offense so avoid doing this. Even if the mail you received is considered junk mail, it’s still unlawful to discard them. 

But even though destroying or getting rid of someone’s mail is categorized as an illegal act, landlords aren’t responsible for holding the mail of the old resident for an indefinite period. In fact, you can seek legal assistance if the former renter won’t fill out the change of address forms, resulting in you keeping the mail over an extended time. 

How USPS Can Help

Since individuals are not permitted to destroy or get rid of mail addressed to others, USPS can receive back the letters with the label “Not at this address,” and are able to reroute them. But if it’s considered undeliverable, the USPS can discard the mail legally if no endorsements are found on the mail.

Bottom Line

As a landlord, you can’t control when mail meant for a former tenant arrives but the tips listed above can help you find adequate solutions. Hiring a property management company is a great way to ensure you avoid tenant issues. 

If you’re seeking a reliable partner to help manage your rental space and deal with circumstances such as mail from former renters– contact Keyrenter Premier today! We handle all tasks associated with rental properties. Let us handle the stress so you can enjoy the benefits of your rental property.