What To Do With Mail Sent To the Previous Tenant?

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what to do with mail sent to previous tenant

When a tenant moves out, various formalities take place. Some of them are fulfilled by the tenant and some by the landlord. One common problem that numerous renters face and some landlords too is that there are mails for the previous tenant still delivered to the address. When the mail reaches the mailbox even after the tenant has vacated, most of the residents are confused about the way to handle the situation.

Requirement from the tenant’s side

When a tenant vacates the house, it is essential to file a “change of address” request at the post office. This ensures that any post addressed to the tenant in the future is redirected to the new address. This prevents a lot of hassle for the landlord and also for the tenants and residents of the house. When the tenant does this, no mail is missed in the future. Forwarding the mail becomes easy for the post office as well.

There are times where tenants forget to change their address at the post office. Sometimes tenants continue giving the old address for some reason. When any of these happen, then comes the confusion of what the current resident should do to return the mail. When the frequency of receiving wrongly addressed mail is high, it cannot be very pleasant. Therefore here are a few things that the current resident or the landlord can do to tackle the situation.

Drop it back in the mailbox

The most straightforward thing to do when you receive a mail addressed to the previous tenant is to return it to the sender. This is no complicated procedure. When you receive a mail for the previous tenant, you can write “Return to Sender” in the mail and drop it in the mailbox again. The other options are to label the mail “no longer at this address simply”.

The postal department would then pick it up and make a note of the change in address. The next step depends on the presence or absence of sender details. If the sender detail is precise, the postal department then returns the mail to the sender. Most of the time, the postal department also notes down the change. However, there is one small issue with this solution- different senders who still have the address might even send mail addressed to the previous tenant, and the problem might continue till you find some long-term solution.

If you receive the mail again in spite of labelling it with a “return to sender” notification, it could be because of the barcode. The postal department sometimes scans the barcode and misses the return label. To avoid this, you can cross out the barcode to initiate a return.

Label the mailbox

Sometimes, sending the mail might not be sufficient. Different mails might still get wrongly delivered. One other way to complement returning the mail would be to label the mailbox. You can add a tag on the mailbox that reads, “former tenant doesn’t reside at this address,” mentioning the former tenant’s name. There might be mails delivered to different names or different people in the previous tenant’s family. In this case, the confusion might persist. Therefore you can add a note that reads, “please deliver only mails addressed to current resident’s name,” mentioning the current resident’s name in the label. In this case, even if the change of address procedure is incomplete, the postal department would check the label and deliver only the relevant mails. Eventually, the mails stop coming, and the records are updated.

Talk to the post office

In the event of finding wrong mails in the mailbox even after several attempts to notify the change, you can always walk into the post office or ask the landlord to inform the post office. You can also take this step if you need immediate action and prevent delivery intended for previous tenants. This might sometimes be necessary because it is not just mails that arrive at the mailbox but parcels as well. Some tenants ignore the step of changing address and some who genuinely forget. Intimating the post office of repeated occurrences of wrong mail delivery can make sure that the previous tenant doesn’t miss any important mail or parcel.

What should you do if you receive bulk mails?

From credit card offers to other marketing mails, some junk mails might be addressed to the previous tenant. In this case, you can choose the mail preference service at a cost. Remember that this service comes with a validity period. You can always renew it when required.

While the above are a few steps that you can take to resolve the issue, possibly, there are few things that you should not do. They are as follows-

  1. Do not open the mail

Stopping mails for the previous tenant might take some time. It pays to stay patient. Whatever be the result of your efforts, remember not to open the mail you receive. Even if there is no sender address or other details to check, you should never tamper with the mail. It is illegal to open mails addressed to the previous tenant.

  1. Do not attempt to change the address

The change of address request involves filling a form that the resident has to do while moving out. As annoying as it can be to receive wrong mails repeatedly, you should not fill the form on the previous tenant’s behalf.

  1. Do not discard the mail

Discarding the mail is more like opening it or accessing the content. This is, again, not the right thing to do. If the sender tries to track the mail or if the previous tenant requests the post office to check for the mail, throwing the mail away can again lead to confusion.

Though receiving mails frequently can be a tricky situation to handle, always remember that there are some critical mails that the sender might be in dire need of sending across to the previous tenant. In a few simple steps, you can ensure that confusions are averted for all the involved parties.



Sally Jenkins

Sally Jenkins

Here to share my rental tips and tricks I've picked up over the years.

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