Landlords face a multitude of situations; dealing with a tenant’s mail is one that every landlord should know how to handle appropriately. Whether the intended mail recipient has moved out or is on an extending vacation, improper handling can actually lead to serious legal trouble. So what do you do when the mail keeps piling up?
Tenant’s Mail Piling Up?
With so many things to do at move-out, some tenants forget to have their mail forwarded to their new address or update their billing information for various subscriptions and accounts. This can lead to a multitude of unwanted magazines, letters, or bills coming in long after that tenant has left. Then there are some circumstances where a tenant is gone for long periods of time and forget to put a hold on their mail, leaving it to build and pile up in the mailbox or on their doorstep. While you want to take care of the issue, you don’t want to cross the line.
Mail tampering is a serious offense and comes with hefty consequences. It’s actually a felony offense to take or move mail from the intended delivery location or to prevent delivery by withholding, opening, throwing away, or destroying someone else’s mail. Consequences include criminal charges, fines, and even jail time in some cases.
So What Do You Do?
So how do you handle a past tenant’s mail? There are a few ways to do so correctly. If the home has been re-rented, you can ask the current tenants to write “return to sender” on the envelope and put it back in the mailbox. Another option would be to inform the post office that the addressee no longer resides at that address and request that mail delivery to them stop.
Things are a little more difficult if the mail recipient still resides at the property. The best way to handle long absences and mail delivery is to have your tenant contact the local post office and request a hold. This will keep mail from piling up while they’re away. If they don’t, homeowners can also contact the Postmaster of the local US Post Office and request for mail delivery to be temporarily suspended. More often than not, the post office will hold on to the mail and the tenant can then pick it up in person when they return.
Dealing with mail delivery can be time consuming, but it’s worth doing properly. The last thing you want to deal with is a mail tampering charge. Be sure to follow the proper steps when it comes to a tenant’s mail and avoid the unnecessary legal trouble!