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Blog July 9, 2021

Wondering How to Stop Getting Mail for Previous Residents? Here’s the Answer

Posted in Moving 101
Jane Davis

Apart from being a freelance writer and moving expert, Jane is also an art and museum lover.

There’s so much you have to do when you finally reach your new home, but all of a sudden, you find yourself wondering how to stop getting mail for previous residents instead. All these letters keep piling, and you only just started getting settled. You remember clearly when you first saw that postcard in your mailbox. The first thing that crossed your mind was that some of your friends wanted to surprise you by trying out your latest address. And then the magazines kept coming along with the bills and paperwork, all meant for the same person. Who the hell is Genevive Mitchell?

Feeling frustrated and agitated by the number of letters meant for someone else is quite normal, especially when preoccupied with so many tasks simultaneously. The last thing you want is to waste your time contemplating what to do when you get mail from previous residents. However, you can do a couple of things to find the way back to their original recipient.

Try Not to Sweat Over These

Whatever your reasons to move were, you’re finally done with it. At least with all that moving stress caused by so many questions: from the crucial ones like choosing a moving company and learning what types of professional packing and other moving services they provide to less intimidating like where to find cheap moving supplies. Now you can store your packing materials because you’re not going to need them for quite some time. You have come a long way to be annoyed by something you could not have foreseen. Maybe the former tenants had last-minute moving, or they weren’t informed enough to know it was expected from them to give an update on their current address. Whatever it was, cheer up. There are so many ways of tackling this problem.

Handling the relocation process is challenging enough, so don't stress over these, too

Learning What To Do When You Get Mail For Previous Residents

When you find yourself in a situation like this, there’s always the same question stuck in your head: “What do I do if I receive someone else’s mail?” Even though it might be tempting to throw each paper away which is not addressed to you, saving it will be more helpful. Understandably, you might be more concerned about unpacking after moving and finally meeting your new neighbors rather than organizing important documents at home, which do not even belong to you.

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The Best Method To Stop Receiving Mail From Previous Residents

Even though you’re most probably worn out from getting organized for your long-distance moving, figuring out different solutions to what to do if you get mail for the previous resident can only do you good. The quickest fix would be to take each letter and write some of the following on the exterior: “Return to sender,” “No longer at this address,” or “Moved.” Not at this address.” Put them back to the outgoing mailbox once you’re done. It should be enough to signal your carrier and the post office to update their records. If the one of the above didn’t work and you’re still agonizing over the question “how do I stop getting old tenants’ mail,” trying with a friendly, sticky note is a way to go. Any version of “Genevive Mitchell doesn’t live at this address” will hopefully attract more attention than a handwritten note.

Don’t Forget Labeling Your Mailbox

There’s not just one answer when it comes to the answer to “how do I stop someone else’s mail from coming to my house.” Dealing with sharing your mailbox on top of everything might be challenging, but don’t let it overwhelm you and intensify your relocation depression. Writing down the household members’ names on the mailbox is one way to combat the problem. Furthermore, putting the same sticky note reminder on, like the one mentioned above, is a great idea. Make sure to use some protective material, like plastic wrap or transparent tape. It will keep your note safe from any weather-related issues. You probably didn’t imagine adjusting to a new home like this, but don’t worry. In no time, you’ll be taken up with making friends in a new city and what best coastal towns nearby you’d like to visit.

Put some effort into leaving additional notes wherever you can

Look for The Barcode And Cross It Out

Despite your endeavor, the unwanted letters might keep resurfacing. To keep grappling with this annoying fact, it’s essential to remember all postal systems are mostly automated. The same goes for the USPS. So, you’re surely not the only one who’s playing the postal hide-and-seek game. If you run out of ideas of what to do with mail for the previous resident, USPS barcodes can be extremely useful since they correspond to a home number. By crossing out the barcode given on the envelope, the postal system will recognize it as undeliverable. Even though it might seem strange, it is one of those fluky moving hacks that help you deal with the problem for good. Thanks to barcodes, you’ll not have to think about what to do with mail from a previous tenant from USPS ever again. Yet again, if the barcode is missing, you’ll have to go the extra mile, heading directly to the post office.

If there's a barcode on the envelope, don't forget to scratch it

Think About the New Tenants in Your Old House

When faced with an unfamiliar ground, you immediately go through all the possible scenarios, trying to remember if you forgot to do something equally important that could complicate someone else’s life. If you want to move safely to another state, filling out the form for a change of address should be no.1 priority. Even more important than how to pack your furniture or even packing fragile items. So, first, make all the necessary changes related to USPS, and be sure you’ve notified all of the right people, too. Bear in mind that canceling subscriptions and memberships to gyms, clubs, magazines and all the postal subscriptions is vital, as well.

Updating your home number before relocating should be on the top of your moving list

How to Stop Getting Mail For Previous Residents – Things You Should Be Aware Of

Another day, another spam. Add this to the post-moving exhaustion and numerous tasks like unpacking after relocating or inevitable cleaning before moving in, and you’ll quickly find yourself above the trash can, wondering whether to bin all the papers and forget you ever received them. Deciding to move to another state alone was an arduous task, although the cross-country services you used helped a lot, especially car shipping. But, you are well aware that the former residents may have experienced the same. Even though you may be still searching for the right solution on how to stop mail for previous residents, getting rid of them would be of no use to either of you.

Don’t Destroy Any of The Arrived Mail

If you’re wondering is it illegal to throw away someone else’s mail, you should know that US Code has quite a few laws regarding the postal service. No matter how infuriating it might be to share your mailbox, throwing away someone else’s mail is considered a felony simply because you made it impossible for another person to receive it. Not to mention that a sender will never have a chance to be updated on a person’s location. When it comes to cross-country moving, keep in mind that finding a job in a new city will likely require you to have a clean record. And destroying anything just because it wasn’t appropriately addressed is proof of intent. Be smarter than that and take your time to return them legally.

Don’t Open It By Any Means

If relocating with kids and deciding on moving your pets with you, thinking about what to do with mail from the previous tenant USPS delivered to you might be the last thing on your mind. It would be no wonder if, amid transitioning chaos, you accidentally open something that wasn’t for you without even realizing it. To avoid such inconvenience, choose one place for all the unwanted paperwork and then think about your next move. Better be safe than sorry.

Check out the video below for the info you need on decluttering or opening someone else’s letters.

YouTube video

Stop Yourself From Filling Out Any Forms On Behalf of Someone Else

If you find out where the former tenants live by some strange chance, do not try to redirect mail by yourself. It might appear that destiny has something to do with it when putting such an end to this whole story. However, filling out a form on behalf of someone else brings you back to a difficult position of breaking the law, which means paying a fine or even going to prison.

Filling out the home number yourself is a federal crime

File a Complaint at the Closest Post Office

If none of the above suggestions are successful, try explaining the problem thoroughly by writing the letter yourself and filing an online complaint. You can also call some of the nearest post offices and schedule an appointment. Talking to some of the managers and asking them to stop sending these to you should do the trick. If living in the suburbs, this one should not be such a dread. Even the carrier himself might know the former tenants and their current location. In this case, asking him to bring the mail to their current residence is the most plausible solution. On the other hand, relocating to a big city might slow down the entire process.

Filing a complaint with the post carrier might be more efficient than writing one

Dear Genevive, It Was Nice Meeting You

Moving cross-country comes with a list of challenges, and you never know what kind of test is awaiting on the way. Sure, many of these are exciting and rewarding, but sometimes unfortunate circumstances intervene, and you have to stick with it. What to do with mail for previous residents seemed far too tedious when we only started untangling it. But it was never about who is to blame more, the postal system or the former tenants. On the contrary, the key was to find all the possible answers because Genevive Mitchel would surely love to start receiving her mail again.

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