Every renter has received an old tenant's mail. But rarely do we know what to do with it. To make things worse, tampering with someone else's mail is a felony. Whether it be opening it up or throwing it away.
So, what can we do?
- Notify the old tenant to setup mail forwarding.
- Send the old mail to the previous tenant if you have their forwarding address.
- Return the mail and write "Not at this address" on the envelope.
Mail already received
The awesome thing about the postal service is that it accounts for mis-delivery. The easiest thing you can do is:
- Write "Not at this address" on the envelope or package.
- Put the envelope or package back into circulation by dropping it off in a collection box, mailbox, or at a postal office.
If you receive mail by a private courier (such as UPS or Fedex), you have a couple of options:
- Refuse the delivery.
- Contact the courier.
- If it's merchandise (ie. Amazon sent you a package that was intended for someone else) you can keep it!
Here's what you can do to stop the previous tenant's mail from being sent to you:
- Contact the previous tenant and tell them to setup mail forwarding.
- Notify the local US Postal inspector.
If you don't have the previous tenant's contact information, ask your landlord to contact them on your behalf.
At some point, it's the duty of the previous tenant to make sure their mail is being delivered to the correct address.
The most common kinds of mail being sent to old tenants are business marketing. Following the steps above should notify the businesses that their customer has changed addresses. Unfortunately, they may not respond appropriately and continue to send you mail. Here's what you can do to handle them:
- Contact the business and notify them directly.
- Contact the post office and notify them.
- Register with DMA (Direct Mail Association) Choice and indicate that you would not like to receive marketing mail any more.
- Contact the US Postal Inspector if it continues.