Overflowing mail from a previous tenant

Getting a Former Tenant’s Mail? A Landlord’s Action Guide

The move-out process can be hectic for even the most-organized people, which is why many landlords are curious about what to do with mail addressed to former tenants. Can a landlord throw out a former renter’s mail or open their packages? The short answer is no – nor can you simply throw items addressed to previous tenants in the trash.

So, what’s a landlord to do?

In this article, we explain what to do if you’re receiving mail addressed to a former tenant along with tips to prevent this issue from clogging your letterbox.

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What Should a Landlord Do With a Former Tenant’s Mail?

Whether the rental is re-occupied or not, getting someone else’s mail is a hassle. It may take some time for your former tenant’s address to be updated – but if you’re still receiving mail addressed to them two weeks post-move, then you (or your new renter) should:

  • Mark each piece of mail with “return to sender” in clear handwriting, then return everything to the mailbox. The post officer will pick it up accordingly.
  • Post a sign on the outside of the mailbox or clearly on its inner lid stating that “Former Tenant no longer lives at this address.” 

If your former tenant’s mail is still coming through, reach out to the local post office directly. Let the local Post Master know that this person has moved.  They’ll either send the mail to the person’s new address or back to the sender.

Pro Tip:

If there’s a barcode on the mail or package, cross it through with a line so that automated systems don’t reroute it back to your rental!

You may be thinking that it’d be easier to simply bin the unwanted mail – but don’t. While legal definitions vary by state, throwing out someone else’s mail could be considered mail tampering, according to Experian. Tampering with mail is a federal offense, which could be punishable by a fine and up to five years in prison. 

It’s easiest to nip this problem in the bud – so let’s discuss what you can do to avoid dealing with annoying, unwanted mail after your tenant’s lease is up.

Set Your Tenant Up for Success Before Move Out

While move out marks the end of your landlord-tenant relationship, there’s plenty of opportunity to make the process easy on both parties! Beyond scheduling a final inspection together and making your security deposit policy crystal clear, creating a list of moving to-dos can help keep your renter on track. 

Copy and paste the template below into your preferred method of communication with your tenant – feel free to make changes as needed:

Move Out Tasks Checklist

Thanks for your time as my tenant! To streamline your move, I recommend that you:

  • Submit a change of address request to the Post Office. You can complete this step online in most cases.
  • Send me your new address. This step makes it easier for me to send any follow-up information, such as your security deposit, directly to you.
  • Complete a final clean of the rental. 
  • Schedule your move-out inspection.

If you have any questions about the move-out process, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

By making it easy for your tenant to share their new address, you can circumvent the issue of receiving their mail long after they’ve said their goodbyes. 

For more tips on making the most of your rental property management business, check out TurboTenant’s YouTube channel. We post videos weekly to answer your most pressing questions, from how the eviction process works to preventing squatters. Subscribe today!

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