What to Do with Mail from Previous Tenants

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Tenants come and go, and you will have many different residents while renting your property. This means you might find yourself dealing with an influx of mail addressed to tenants who have moved out of your property. Dealing with the mail of previous tenants is one of the many things landlords need to know

Mail from previous tenants can be annoying, especially if you are receiving them frequently. It can be time-consuming and tricky to handle these emails. You can’t open them or throw them away. And, you might end up in legal trouble if you aren’t aware of the tenant’s rights. 

So what exactly are you supposed to do? There are multiple ways to handle a tenant’s mail. In this article, we’ll discuss the various steps that you can take once you receive such mail. We will also tell you some tips to stop receiving them. 

Understanding the Laws

Your action depends on local laws. For example, in some places, you can’t throw away any mail sent to the tenant unless marked as “Return to Sender.” Additionally, you can never open someone else’s mail. Instead, if you receive mail addressed to your former tenants, you should either return it to the sender or forward it to the tenant’s new address. 

What’s the Law in Pocatello?

In Pocatello, Idaho, strict regulations under the Pocatello Code of Ordinances govern the handling of such mail. The law prohibits property owners from opening, retaining, or discarding any mail intended for individuals who no longer reside on their property. 

lawyer at desk

It is your legal responsibility to either return the mail to the post office or deliver it to the rightful recipient. If you fail to abide by this law, you could face a fine of up to $300, or even jail time of up to 6 months

Types of Mail Addressed to Previous Tenants

The mail addressed to former tenants can be both urgent and non-urgent. Some of the mail you might receive include: 

  1. Personal Correspondence: Mails like these include letters, postcards, greeting cards, etc. 
  2. Packages: These can include items such as gifts, electronics, books, etc. 
  3. Business Correspondence: This type of mail can include invoices, bills, memos, etc. 
  4. Newspaper Subscriptions: This type of mail includes magazines, newspapers, etc.
  5. Utility Bills: These include phone, gas, electric, water bills, etc. 
  6. Mail-Order Items: This type of mail includes products, supplies, and orders that have been placed online or by phone. 
  7. Bulk Mail: This type of mail is usually sent out in bulk from businesses and organizations. They may include items such as flyers, brochures, and other marketing materials.

Ways to Handle Mail from Previous Tenants

Whether you receive a few pieces of mail or a mailbox full of items, it is important to know what to do with each type of mail. Here are some actions that you can take: 

1. Ask the Previous Tenant to Forward Their Mail

If you can, contact the previous tenants and ask them to forward their mail to their new address. This will help you avoid dealing with a backlog of mail. Make sure that the previous tenants receive any important documents or packages. You ask them to alert any senders of their new address.

mailing envelope

2. Return Mail to Sender 

If you have mail that cannot be forwarded, you can return it to the sender. This will help you avoid dealing with a backlog of mail and ensure that the senders are aware of the new address. 

Additionally, make sure to include a note with the mail that the tenant has moved and provide the new address. The sender can then take the appropriate steps to resend the mail to the correct address.

3. Contact the Local Post Office

If you continue to receive mail from previous tenants, contact the local post office. They may be able to provide a forwarding address for the previous tenant. It is also important to inform the post office of the change in address so they can update their records.

4. Use USPS

The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers a variety of services to make sure your mail is always delivered to the right address. These services are available for both residential and business locations. You can also contact USPS directly to ask for help with any mail forwarding issues you may have.

5. Use Services That Discard Unwanted Mail

You can use services that discard unwanted mail, such as the Postal Service’s Mail Forwarding Service. This service will stop the delivery of mail during the period you are away, and will then discard any mail that arrives during that time. You can also use this service to redirect mail to another address.

person delivering mail

Can I Ignore the Mail from Previous Tenants?

No, you cannot ignore mail from previous tenants. You are legally obligated to make efforts to deliver the mail to the rightful recipient. If you are unable to deliver the mail, you must return it to the sender. It is also important to make sure you are not discarding any important mail. You may want to check with the previous tenant before discarding any mail. 

If the previous tenant is unable to provide you with a forwarding address, you should contact the post office and return it. Additionally, it is important to keep a record of all mail you have received from previous tenants. 

Bottom Line

Handling mail addressed to former care is a must to sustain your rental business. You should adhere to local regulations and legal obligations. Remember that the law prohibits them from opening, retaining, or destroying the mail. 

You must return it to the post office or deliver it to the intended recipient. It is necessary to ensure privacy, protect sensitive information, and avoid potential legal consequences. 

You can always consult Five Star Property Management for assistance. We can help you understand the USPS regulations and provide advice on how to handle all types of mail. We can also help with every other aspect of property management, such as tenant screening, maintenance and financial reporting! We are here to provide you with the support you need. 


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