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What to Do With Mail From Previous Tenants – Guide for Landlords

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As a landlord, you have a lot of tasks, and one of the most common is dealing with mail from past tenants. It’s a frequent problem that many landlords are left with, and it’s critical to deal with it properly in order to preserve a smooth and professional landlord-tenant relationship.

In this guide, McCaw Property Management will provide insights and answers to frequently asked questions about managing mail from prior tenants, including legal and ethical considerations.


How to Stop Receiving Mail from Previous Tenants

Before delving into how to manage mail from prior tenants, it’s critical to understand how to avoid it in the first place. Consider the following preventative measures:


Update Your Lease Contract

Include a section in your rental agreement that specifies explicitly that it is the tenant’s responsibility to update their mailing address with the appropriate parties when they move out.

This establishes the expectation from the beginning and could lessen the likelihood of your tenants forgetting to do so and leaving you with their mail.


Encourage the Use of Forwarding Services

Encourage your renters to use the US Postal Service’s (USPS) mail forwarding services to ensure that their mail arrives at their new address. Inform them of the significance of this phase in the moving process.


Keep a Tenant Database

To be a good, organized landlord, create a current tenant database with updated contact information for each tenant, including their forwarding address. This data can be used to trace and manage any mail that may end up with you.


Large binders full of papers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Receiving Former Tenants’ Mail

When dealing with letters from past tenants, a number of questions arise. We’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions here:


Why Should I Care About a Former Tenant’s Address?

Keeping a previous tenant’s address on file is vital for legal and financial reasons as well as mail management.

On top of being able to reach them about mail, having their current contact information on hand can be critical in the event of a dispute, damage claim, or other legal concern post-tenancy. It also makes it easier for them to get their security deposit back if there are any deductions or unsolved issues.


Can I Read, Shred, or Throw Away Previous Tenants’ Mail?

No, you should not open, read, destroy, or discard mail addressed to a prior renter. This may be a breach of federal law and may result in legal ramifications. This will also breach your previous tenant’s trust. You must respect their privacy and refrain from tampering in any way with their mail.


Is it Okay if I Fill Out a Change of Address Form on Behalf of my Previous Tenant?

No, you are not permitted to complete a change of address form on behalf of a prior renter. This action necessitates the tenant’s permission and understanding. They must commence the address change process with the USPS. 


A tenant writing a label on a moving box.


You can, however, urge them to do so during the moving process or provide information on how to change their address.


What If My Tenant Has Passed Away and I’m Still Receiving Their Mail?

In the terrible event that a tenant dies, you may still receive mail addressed to them. In such instances, it is critical to handle the matter with tact and consideration for the dead tenant’s family.

It is recommended to contact the dead tenant’s relatives or the person in charge of their estate to establish how to deal with their letters.


How Do I Stop Receiving Mail From Former Tenants?

Here are some things you can do to avoid receiving correspondence from prior tenants in the future:


Inform the Tenant

Upon helping them to move in, notify your current tenant about the problem. Inquire whether they have touch with the former tenant and whether they can persuade them to update their address with the USPS.


Return to Sender

If you receive mail addressed to a former renter, mark it “Return to Sender” and return it to the mailbox. This notifies the USPS that the recipient no longer lives at that location and allows them to help redirect their mail.


Reach out to USPS

Contact your local post office and alert them of the problem. They may be able to advise you on how to reduce the amount of mail that arrives at your home.


A USPS truck driving.


How USPS Can Assist

The United States Postal Service provides several services to help landlords manage mail from prior tenants, including:

  • Change of Address Service:

Encourage former renters to use the United States Postal program’s official change of address program. They can file a change of address form by visiting the USPS website or going to their local post office. For up to a year, this service frequently redirects mail to their new address.

  • Additional Service:

The United States Postal Service provides an Ancillary Service Endorsement, which provides additional address-related services. “Return Service Requested,” for example, ensures that any mail for the prior tenant is returned to the sender with the new address or explanation for non-delivery.

  • Postal Forwarding Addresses:

Request that the USPS assist you in keeping a forwarding address for previous tenants. This ensures that any mail sent to them is forwarded to their new address.


Bottom Line

In conclusion, managing letters from past tenants can be an annoying issue. McCaw Property Management offers a complete answer to this problem as well as expert property management services. Landlords can work with McCaw to ensure that tenant migrations and mail handling are done legally and ethically.

McCaw’s services extend beyond mail management to include other facets of property management, making it a smart solution for landlords looking for hassle-free, effective property management. Hiring McCaw Property Management enables landlords to concentrate on their assets while maintaining professional, polite relationships with renters and remaining in compliance with federal requirements.