Property Management Blog

How to Deal with Mail from Previous Tenants: A Comprehensive Guide for Landlords

System - Thursday, December 21, 2023
Property Management Blog

Moving out can be stressful for your tenants. After all, not only do they have to ensure they pack up everything on time but also that the property is clean and in a good condition before the final inspection. With so much on their mind, it’s not uncommon for tenants to overlook important move-out tasks including not filing a change of address form for the USPS.

While it may not seem like a big problem, receiving mail from previous tenants can still be bothersome for you and your new renters. In this guide, our team at SGI Property Management Phoenix, will share some steps to deal with this issue effectively.

Keep reading to learn more!

How to Stop Receiving Mail from Former Tenants

Receiving mail from previous tenants long after they’ve moved out can be bothersome especially if you are a long-distance landlord. Here are some ways to stop receiving mail from your former tenants.

Contact the Tenant

Firstly, you should reach out to the tenant and communicate to let them know that their mail is still being sent to your address. You can schedule a time for them to pick up their mail or they can send you their new address to forward their mail. Additionally, you should ask them to fill out a Change of Address form with the USPS to ensure that the mail reaches the right address next time.


Return It to the Sender

If you cannot contact your former tenant or don’t have their new address, it’s best to return the package to the sender. You can write “Return to sender” where it’s visible on the package and put it back in the mailbox. The post carrier will take care of the rest. 

Put Up a Sign

If the problem persists, you can put up a sign in the mailbox that says, “[Former Tenant] no longer lives here” or “[Tenant’s Name] moved.” This way, the post carrier will make sure not to leave any packages addressed to the former tenant and might even forward them to their new address if they have it on file.

Contact Postal Services

If mail keeps showing up even after you follow the above mentioned steps, consider talking to your mail carrier or a manager at your local post office. By letting them know that the tenant no longer lives in your property, they’ll make sure you stop receiving mail addressed to them. 

In most cases, the USPS will be able to forward the mail accordingly. If the mail is deemed underivable, they will return it to the sender or even discard it.

Can I File a Change of Address Form for a Previous Tenant? 

Dealing with mail addressed to a former tenant is not complicated but it can be extremely time-consuming. That’s why it’s better to take a preventive approach to prevent this issue altogether. This can be easily done by requesting tenants to file a Change of Address form at your local post office. 


If tenants fail to do so before moving out, you might think of doing it yourself. However, you shouldn’t fill out a Change of Address form for a previous tenant. Since you’re not an authorized agent, this would be considered a federal crime that could end up in a costly fine or a potential legal dispute.

Can I Open, Shred, or Throw Away Mail from a Previous Tenant?

No, as a landlord, you cannot look, shred, or trash mail that’s not addressed to you. Doing so is considered a serious offense that could lead to potential legal issues or complaints. It may seem that the letters or packages are junk mail but they are still protected by law, meaning that you could be prosecuted for tampering with or discarding them without authorization. 

In addition, you don’t have to worry if you accidentally open mail addressed to a former tenant. All you have to do is re-seal the package and return it to the sender or forward it to the tenant’s new address. The USPS will take care of the rest and you won’t be held liable.

How Long Should I Store Mail from Previous Tenants?

Although there are laws protecting mail from being destroyed or disposed of without authorization, landlords aren’t required to hold mail from previous landlords for extended periods. You can store the mail until the tenant can pick it up or forward it to the tenant’s new address.


What to Do with Mail from a Deceased Tenant?

A tenant passing away is a tragic incident that can be extremely difficult to navigate. In most cases, the tenant’s family or state will have to take care of picking up their belongings, including the mail. 

However, if this doesn’t happen, you must contact the USPS to let them know the tenant is deceased. Moreover, you can head to the Direct Marketing Association website and enter your deceased tenant’s name to stop receiving any mail addressed to them.

Bottom Line

Continuing to receive mail addressed to a former tenant is a common problem landlords have to deal with. Despite this issue, there are several things you can do to stop this issue. These include forwarding the mail to the tenant’s new address, returning it to the sender, and requesting the tenant to file a Change of Address form at your local post office. 

While this may seem time-consuming, these actions will help you solve the issue without being liable to theft or mail embezzlement. If you need help dealing with mail from previous tenants, consider partnering with SGI Property Management Phoenix. Our team of experts can help you make the move-out process more efficient and stress-free for both you and your tenants.

Contact us today to learn more!