Blog May 24, 2021

Here’s How to Stop Getting Mail for the Previous Residents of Your House

Posted in How-to / By Blake Shaw

If you’ve recently moved to your new home, and your mailbox is cluttered with letters addressed to tenants who moved out a long time ago, this might mean their change of address was not updated at the post office. So, if you wonder how to stop getting mail for previous residents, here is what you should do. Take a look at our step-by-step guide on what to do when you get mail for the previous resident and solve this problem once and for all.

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Reasons Why You Receive Someone Else’s Letters Addressed to Your Home

Receiving someone else’s letters can be very frustrating and confusing. However, this happens more often than you could imagine, and there are various reasons why. In many cases, people simply forget to do an address update, especially when relocating last minute. Also, there can be a lapse on the USPS side of the process. They serve more than 161.4 million addresses across the US, their network is huge, and omissions can happen. So here are the most common reasons why you keep receiving other people’s letters even though they moved out from the property a long time ago.

People Simply Forget to Update Information

When people are about to relocate, they undoubtedly deal with great anxiety about moving out and settling all the details, especially if they are preparing to move out for the first time. In such chaos, while trying to pack the whole household and decide what interstate moving company to choose for their relocation, expectedly, the last thing to worry about is how to update an address. However, this is essential for your documents to be valid so that you can avoid any possible inconveniences with institutions or tenants who will move into the property you’re leaving.

Is the Procedure of Updating Residential Details With USPS Complicated?

Although dealing with other institutions might be complicated, when it comes to the U.S. Postal Service, the process is rather easy. In order to change residential details with USPS, you should fill out an online form or visit the closest local post office, where you will file Form 3575. After two weeks, the U.S. Postal Service will update your residential details and start sending things to the right address.

Is it Necessary to Update the Residential Details?

You’re obliged to do a change of address by law with all related institutions, like the IRS, DMV, social security, and State Election Offices, that keep records of your personal information. Keep in mind that updating paperwork and documents is even more demanding when it comes to interstate moving since each state has different regulations. In other words, you should check everything thoroughly before you move to a new state at least three months before relocation and get familiar with rules on how to register a leased car in another state, update the driver’s license, ID, tax information, or residential details.

The process of updating the data associated with location change will not look the same for people who perform a military move, want to move with the family to another state, or plan to move with pets. For example, people who move with pets should update the pet’s microchip address, or if they are relocating with kids, they should update their residential details, too.

Depending on your specific situation, the process of changing the residential details with institutions will look different. If you are relocating with children, for example, you will have to take on yourself the whole process of changing their address. One of the best tips for moving out of state will be to create a moving to another state checklist that contains a section about who to notify when you move and how much in advance since this is the only way for all your documents to be properly updated and guarantee you a legal stay. Remember to organize important documents at home and have everything ready before you move to your new home.

Mailboxes and letters
Changing residential details is easier than you could possibly imagine

What Do I Do if I Receive Someone Else’s Mail and Where to File a Complaint?

This is a challenging question, and since it usually comes when you’re preoccupied with settling down and unpacking, it is absolutely understandable that you want a quick and easy solution. However, there are few things you should never ever do with other people’s letters.

Don’t Open the Letter Addressed to Someone Else

Opening and reading a letter that is addressed in someone else’s name is a federal crime and the consequences are harsh, including five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. These penalties are also applied in case of intentional hiding of the letters or interruption of correspondence – a.k.a. throwing away the incorrectly addressed envelopes and their contents. So, if you ever were asking yourself, Is it illegal to throw away someone else’s mail, the answer is yes.

What Should I Do With Wrongly Addressed Letters? How Do I Stop Someone Else’s Mail from Coming to my House?

One of the possible ways to stop mail for previous residents once you receive their letters is to write “no longer at this address” or “return to sender” and put it into the outgoing mailbox. You can write it directly on the envelope or use a sticky note – there are no special regulations associated with this. Usually, envelopes labeled this way are enough for a carrier to notice the problem and try to find a solution.

Labeling Your Mailbox With a Big Sign Is the Best Method to Signal to the Postman That There Are New Tenants in the House

When relocating from a small town to a big city, one of the easiest ways to ensure that you’ll stop receiving mail from the previous resident is to signify to the carrier that former tenants do not live there anymore. You can put a big sign right on your mailbox and make it more obvious for postal workers, writing your family members’ names, or even put a notice saying “[name of last resident] doesn’t live here anymore”. Seeing such an obvious notice can be a sign for them to check the names on the envelope before they put it in the mailbox and set aside those requiring a change through the system.

Crossing out the Barcode Can Also Help

The greatest advantage and, at the same time, a drawback of the U.S. Postal Service system is that it is largely automated, meaning the undesired letters may continue to be delivered to your letterbox despite all your efforts to end it. This can get annoying in situations when you moved with a newborn, and you don’t have the time to deal with such things, but still, you have to fix it somehow.

Another possible answer to How do I stop getting old tenants’ mail could be crossing out the barcode that will sign to postal workers that the letters are not deliverable to that address and you want to return them. If this doesn’t work, then you should go to your local post office and inform them about the problem.

What to Do if You Get Mail for the Previous Resident – Fully Explained

If you still feel like you’re not completely sure what to do to resolve this inconvenience, check the video below and find out how to get rid of undesired letters legally and how to stop mail for previous residents.

What to Do With the Mail From the Previous Tenant – USPS Has a One-Step Solution That’s Quick and Easy

The most effective solution to this problem would be approaching your carrier directly. Speaking to your postman or going to your local postal office and explaining the situation.

Another way is to file Form 1500 and submit your complaint directly. Although this form is intended to cover the refusal of explicit letters, it is generally used as a request for prohibitory order. Once you submit the complaint, the Postal Service needs 35-40 days to approve your request. The thing you should definitely not do is file a change of address on behalf of the person whose parcels you’re receiving since this can also be treated as a violation.

Post office sign
Filing a form can be a potential solution to avoid receiving unwanted letters

Additional Tips on How to Stop Getting Mail for Previous Residents

If you feel like you’ve run out of ideas on what to do with mail for the previous resident, and USPS doesn’t seem to be helpful, try to reach out to former residents and inform them about this inconvenience. Always keep in mind that someone else has already had this problem, so try to meet new neighbors and find out how they fixed this issue.

Neighbors can also lend you a hand if you don’t have a way to contact the former tenants and potentially reach them and remind them to resolve the issue with the Postal Service. Although the situation when people have simply forgotten to update their residential details is the most common reason why you still keep receiving wrongly addressed envelopes, there are a couple more options for why this is happening, so let’s see what you can do about it.

What to Do With Junk Mail for Former Residents?

If you keep receiving a bunch of promo materials or other monthly subscriptions on behalf of the former residents, then the only solution to end this is by contacting the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Use the form on their website and manage your preferences. This way, you will be protected from useless promotional flyers and leaflets in the next five years.

Are You Sure Someone is Not Trying to Misuse Your Whereabouts?

The real problem of receiving someone else’s letters is that the usage of your whereabouts can be misused and considered a fraud, which is especially problematic with the IRS. If you find out that the name on the envelope does not belong to a former tenant or to anyone in your household, this should be a red flag to you that someone is trying to go against the law and that you should react. If this happens, don’t postpone it, inform all related parties and ask them for further instructions.

What to Do if You Keep Receiving Letters for a Former Tenant That Is Deceased?

In case the family or close relatives have not canceled all subscriptions or changed the information with USPS about the deceased former tenant, then you’ll have to do it. The first way is to write on the envelopes that the person has passed which should be a signal for postal workers to make a change in the system. The second and more effective method is to inform all related parties about the case and ask for further instructions.

written addresses on the purple envelope
Make sure you know the reason why you keep receiving someone else's letters

Don’t Create the Same Problem for Others – Update Your Data With USPS on Time When Relocating Cross Country

Moving state to state and trying to keep everything under control can be a very demanding task, especially when you are moving to another state alone or are moving for a job, or even if you’re relocating within the same city by only going to the suburbs. At a moment when you have to worry about hundreds of details simultaneously, like choosing moving services or deciding what packing services you need, details such as changing the residential details and updating your documents are definitely not your priority, but they are important to keep in mind.

If you want to have a truly stress-free move, making a list of things to do when relocating to a new state can be a life- and time-saving relocation hack. This list should definitely contain a section for changing the whereabouts that will not only ensure that you have a legal stay within the state you’re relocating to but also that you will receive your letters and packages regularly and protect the next tenants from any inconveniences. No matter if you’re preparing your home for sale or you’re relocating to another city and need to rent an apartment, don’t forget to update your residential details.

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