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

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Renting out a property and owning a rental business has its own fair share of advantages, but just like any other business, these benefits may come with obstacles and obligations. As a landlord, one of these may be handling mail from previous tenants.

When a tenant leaves, they may leave a trail of mail behind them. Such mail may include personal correspondence, crucial paperwork, bills, or subscriptions. 

Inappropriate handling of these letters can lead to a variety of complications, including potential legal issues and unfavorable reviews from both past and present tenants. As a landlord, it is your duty to maintain a safe and orderly environment on your property for all parties involved.

Limehouse Property Management put together this article to answer landlords’ frequently asked questions when dealing with mail from previous renters.

How to Stop Receiving Mail from Former Tenants

When trying to figure out how to stop receiving mail from previous renters, there are three recommended steps that landlords can follow.

The first recommended practice is to write “Return to Sender,” “Moved,” or “No longer at this address” on the envelope and place it back into the mailbox or take it to the local post office. This ensures that the sender becomes aware of the tenant’s change of address and updates their records accordingly. 

Two people going over a form while surrounded by letters and packages

However, some post offices sort mail automatically with the use of a barcode. If the delivered mail has a barcode, it’s very important that you cross it out and write “Not at this address” beside or above the barcode.

The postal service’s computer will then mark the mail as “undeliverable,” letting the sender know they need to re-send the letter to the correct address. 

The second recommended course of action is to leave a note inside the former tenant’s mailbox that reads, “Former Tenant (Name) no longer resides at this address, please only leave correspondence for Current Tenant (Name).” The mail carrier is likely to make note of it and sort the mail accordingly moving forward. 

If none of the previous options work and you continue to receive your former tenant’s mail, you can try speaking to the mail carrier directly, or visit your local post office and ask to talk with the Postmaster to address this issue. 

Other Questions about Receiving Mail from Previous Tenants

Why Is It Important to Have a Previous Renter’s Address?

Having a previous tenant’s address is essential for open communication and efficient property management. Landlords can use this information when sending important documents, security deposit refunds, or legal notices that may come up after the renter has left.

This information may also be helpful when addressing any past or current tenant complaints

Overall, having the address of a previous renter enables a seamless turnover between tenants and maintains a positive landlord-tenant relationship.

Person holding a brown package with a USPS label on it

Can I Read, Shred, or Discard Mail from a Previous Tenant?

Since mail is regarded as private property, it is illegal to open, shred, or dispose of a former tenant’s mail without proper authorization. 

It is critical that landlords adhere to the correct processes and maintain a professional demeanor in order to remain legally compliant and uphold the renters’ right to privacy.

Can I Complete a Change of Address Form on Behalf of a Previous Tenant?

Filling out someone else’s Change of Address form without their authorization is considered a violation of their privacy. The person moving should start and finish the Change of Address process themself to ensure their personal information is appropriately updated with service providers and other affiliates. 

To avoid any legal concerns or misunderstandings, refrain from trying to complete the process on behalf of a former tenant, and instead encourage them to fill out a Change of Address form on their own.

What if the Tenant Has Passed Away and I’m Still Receiving Their Mail?

If you find yourself receiving mail intended for a deceased tenant, it’s essential to handle the matter delicately and respectfully. 

Start by verifying the tenant’s passing through official channels, such as death certificates and obituaries, or by directly communicating with the tenant’s family. 

Person sitting at a desk with a laptop, taking notes and making a phone call

Contact the tenant’s next of kin or legal representatives after confirmation to discuss how their mail should be handled. They might want to change the address for future deliveries or subscriptions, or they might ask you to send the mail back to the sender.

In any case, it is critical to keep lines of communication open and respect the preferences of the tenant’s family or legal representatives during this period.

Bottom Line

Being a responsible and considerate landlord occasionally includes managing correspondence from former tenants. You may efficiently handle this part of property management by setting up clear expectations, maintaining communication, and protecting privacy.

If you have any other business projects and personal activities to attend to, let Limehouse Property Management help. Limehouse Property Management is a professional property management company serving Coastal Virginia.

As a full-service property management company, we help our clients with property marketing, tenant screening and management, lease management, and more. Contact us today to find out how you can be a stress-free property owner!