What to Do with Mail from Previous Tenants − Guide for Landlords

Are you still receiving a lot of mail addressed to a former tenant? If so, you're not alone! Many landlords need clarification and help to deal with mail from previous tenants. Understanding what to do with this type of mail can be challenging.

You may need help figuring out where to start with this complex process, so we at Gifford Properties & Management have created this handy guide that provides all the steps you need to take to safely and securely handle mail sent to former tenants.

We'll cover everything from what documents are essential to have, to explaining how you should handle items left behind.

How To Prevent Mail From Former Tenants?

Once the former tenant has moved out, the following strategies can help you keep their mail from showing up at your property:

Contact The Post Office for Forwarding

The simplest solution is to get in touch with the post office and request mail forwarding for the former tenant. Provide basic information like the tenant's name and forwarding address if you have it. The post office will then redirect any remaining mail for up to one year after the tenant's move-out.

Mark Outgoing Mail as "Return to Sender"

If you receive mail for the former tenant, mark it as "Return to Sender" and put it back in the mailbox. When the postal carrier receives it, they will ensure that the mail sent to your property is returned to the original sender.

blue mail box on a street corner

Directly Contact Companies and Organizations

Lastly, you can directly contact companies or organizations sending mail to your property. Request that they update their records and cease sending mail to the previous tenant's address.

Commonly Ask Questions

The followings are questions landlords can have when handling a former tenants mail:

Can I Keep the Mail Without Forwarding or Returning It?

No, landlords are not permitted to keep mail from former tenants without forwarding or returning it. Doing so can be considered negligence and lead to legal consequences. It’s, therefore, best to follow proper procedures when handling mail from previous tenants.

Is It Essential to Have a Previous Tenant's New Address?

Yes, a new address can help you track where the previous tenant has moved to. This can be useful for returning security deposits and sending notices or letters in the event of a legal dispute.

Additionally, having the most up-to-date address on file can make it easier to contact former tenants if you ever need to reach them to redirect their mail.

Can I Fill Out Change of Address Forms for Former Renters?

Filling out a “Change of Address Form” for a previous renter might seem convenient, but knowing the legal implications is crucial. Submitting a form for your previous renter is considered a federal crime unless you are a guardian, executor, or authorized agent.

Unauthorized actions can lead to severe consequences, including fines or imprisonment.

a stack of letters in an open community mail box

It’s essential to respect the privacy and legal rights of individuals. Instead, opt for the appropriate approach by contacting the post office to have the mail forwarded to the correct address. Prioritizing compliance and ethical practices ensures a smooth and lawful resolution for everyone involved.

Am I Allowed to Open a Mail from a Previous Tenant?

No, landlords are not allowed to open mail addressed to a former tenant. Not only is it illegal, but it could also be considered an invasion of privacy. You should respect the privacy of the previous renter and treat their mail as you would want yours treated, with discretion and respect.

What Should I Do If My Former Tenant Is Deceased?

If your former tenant has passed away, contact their next of kin to inform them of the mail. Additionally, consider contacting organizations or companies with which the tenant had associations to inform them about the tenant's passing and request a halt in mail delivery.

Another option is to visit the Direct Marketing Association website and register the deceased tenant's name. This process typically takes three months, after which all mail addressed to the deceased person will cease.

If these methods don't yield results, you can write "Deceased, return to sender" on the envelope and return it to the mailbox. These steps will help ensure proper mail handling for a deceased former tenant.

black home mailbox with a red flag signalling that mail is inside

Is Throwing Previous Tenants' Mail Allowed?

You are not allowed to through away any mail, even if it’s junk mail. Ensure all mail is forwarded to the tenant or returned marked as "no longer at this address." Doing so protects your tenants, yourself, and your rental business from potential legal issues.

Is It Essential to Hold onto Emails for an Extended Period?

No, there isn’t any need to cling to email. As a landlord, you're not responsible for indefinitely holding onto mail from the former tenant. Once you've informed the Postal Service about the situation, hang onto the mail you receive until it can be returned or until the sender gets the message and stops sending it altogether.

General Tip

If you notice a constant stream of mail still finding its way to your property address to a former tenant, it's time to take control. Try to contact them and remind them to update their mailing address. This way, important documents will get to them quickly, and everyone can enjoy a smoother postal experience.

Bottom Line

Dealing with mail from a former tenant is tricky and requires compliance with the law. It’s essential to respect the privacy of all tenants, including former ones, by forwarding or returning their mail as necessary and respecting the protocol in place.

As a landlord, staying informed is critical. Taking the appropriate steps will help you avoid legal repercussions while ensuring that crucial documents aren't lost in transit.

Connecting with Gifford Properties & Management can help you navigate these issues and ensure a smooth process. For assistance managing your rental properties, don't hesitate to get in touch with us today!

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Andrew Gifford and his team of professionals are easily the best realtors and property managers that I have ever worked with. They provide first rate service in an extremely timely manner. Whether you are a landlord, tenant, or prospective real estate buyer, I highly recommend the services of Andrew Gifford and his real estate team for all your property needs!

Jeff Tillman