Property Management Blog

Receiving Mail from Previous Tenants? Here’s What to Do

System - Friday, June 30, 2023
Property Management Blog

As a landlord, you may have encountered the problem of receiving mail from your previous tenants. This can be annoying and stressful, especially if you don't know where they moved to or if you live far from your rental property. It can leave you scratching your head, wondering what steps to take next. 

You may wonder what you should do with their mail and how to stop it from cluttering your mailbox. In this comprehensive guide, we will explain the legal and ethical ways to deal with previous tenants’ mail and how to prevent this issue from happening again. 

Ways to Stop Mail from Previous Tenants

Are you seeking ways to halt the delivery of mail intended for previous tenants? Here are some effective approaches:

  1. Get in touch with the post office to set up mail forwarding for the previous tenant. This straightforward process requires providing essential details like the former tenant's name and new address for forwarding. 

  2. Label outgoing mail as "return to sender" or "no longer at this address." When the postal carrier comes across such mail, they will promptly return it to the sender by taking it back to their office. This ensures that the mail reaches the intended party and keeps your records up to date.

  3. If all else fails, directly contact the companies or organizations sending mail and request that they cease sending it to your property.

person holding mail

Frequently Asked Questions About Previous Tenants' Mail

Why Is It Important to Have the Address of Previous Tenants?

Having the address of previous tenants is crucial for the following reasons. 

  • It enables you to return any uncollected security deposits that may still be due to them. 

  • It allows the timely sending of letters and notices in case any legal proceedings are initiated against them. 

  • With their address on record, you can ensure that important communication reaches them promptly.

Can I Open and Check Mail Belonging to a Previous Tenant?

No, opening and checking someone else's mail is illegal. The privacy and confidentiality of mail are protected by law. Such activities can lead to serious consequences, including substantial fines and even imprisonment. It is essential to refrain from accessing their mail without proper authorization.

What Happens If I Don't Forward or Return the Mail?

Failing to appropriately handle the mail from a previous tenant can result in legal consequences. As a landlord, you are responsible for properly managing mail related to your property. 

Negligence in handling such mail can expose you to legal action. Therefore, it is important to take proactive measures to forward or return the mail to the sender, ensuring its proper disposition.

person delivering mail

What If My Former Tenant Has Passed Away?

If your former tenant has passed away, handling their mail with care and sensitivity is essential. Contacting and communicating with their next of kin and informing them about the mail received is a compassionate step. 

Additionally, you may need to notify organizations or companies the tenant was associated with, requesting them to update their records and cease sending mail to your property.

You can also register the deceased tenant's name on the Direct Marketing Association website to prevent further mail from being delivered. This process typically takes around three months to process fully, ensuring that all mail addressed to the deceased individual will cease. 

In cases where this method is ineffective, you can label the mail envelope with "Deceased, return to sender" and drop it back into the mailbox.

Is Filling Out a Change of Address Form for The Previous Tenant Advisable?

It is not a good idea to fill out a change of address form for the previous tenant. Filling the form on behalf of someone else without proper authorization is considered a federal crime. 

Only authorized individuals, such as executors, guardians, or authorized agents, can file such forms. Try to contact the post office directly and request mail forwarding instead of attempting to change the address on behalf of the former tenant.

mail box

Can I Dispose of Mail from My Previous Tenant?

No, disposing of mail that does not belong to you is also illegal. Handling mail responsibly is crucial and ensuring it reaches the intended recipient or is returned to the sender. 

Contacting the post office to have the mail forwarded or labeling it as "no longer at this address" are appropriate steps. Landlords are not permitted to discard any mail, including junk mail, addressed to the previous tenant.

Do I Need to Hold onto Mail for an Extended Period?

You do not need to hold onto mail received for an extended period. Once the Postal Service has been notified of the tenant's departure, keeping any mail received until it is returned or the sender ceases to send it entirely is recommended. 

However, it is important to note any recurring pattern of mail arriving for the former tenant. In such cases, it may be beneficial to contact the tenant and advise them to update their mailing address to ensure the proper delivery of important documents. 

If a former tenant refuses to cooperate and fill out change of address forms, it may be necessary to seek legal intervention.

What is the USPS's Role in Managing Tenant's Mail?

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is vital in managing tenants' mail. They have processes to handle mail when tenants move or pass away. The USPS carefully follows any endorsements on mail pieces and discards them legally if none are present. 


If there is an endorsement, such as "forward," the USPS will try to locate the intended recipient and redirect the mail accordingly. In the case of a tenant's death, they work with the next of kin to prevent further mail from being sent. 

Landlords can also utilize the USPS website to request the cessation of incoming mail marked as "no longer at this address."

Bottom Line

Properly handling mail from previous tenants is essential for landlords and new tenants alike, not just for legal reasons but also to ensure the preservation of important documents. 

Contacting the post office to arrange for mail forwarding and staying proactive in managing the situation will prevent any penalties from being incurred. 

Remember, if you find handling mail from previous tenants challenging, SGI Property Management Dallas is here to assist you. Being a full time landlord is hard, so let us take off the stress. Contact us today to learn more about our services.