How do I stop the previous tenant's mail being delivered to my new apartment?
November 3, 2005 4:43 PM   Subscribe

How do I stop the previous tenant's mail being delivered to my new apartment?

I just moved into a new apartment and am getting plenty of mail for the previous tenants who I do not have a forwarding address for. Is there a recommended way to stop this rather than just throwing the mail away? (FYI: I am in San Francisco.)
posted by chrispederick to Home & Garden (19 answers total)
What I've done in the past is write "Return to sender - Not a resident" or something like that on the envelope, and stick it back in the mail. Not sure if this actually does any good.
posted by treebjen at 4:45 PM on November 3, 2005

Write "no longer at this address" on envelope and leave it for your mail carrier. If you just moved into the apartment, it's possible that the previous tenant's forwarding request at the post office just hasn't been processed yet.
posted by scody at 4:45 PM on November 3, 2005

We handled this by speaking directly with our mail carrier, who must have taken care of it later, since the mail quickly stopped coming.
posted by odinsdream at 5:03 PM on November 3, 2005

I wish I had an answer for you. I'm dealing with the exact same issue. No amount of writing "moved" or "no longer at this address" or "no forwarding address", etc... has made any headway with the deliveries of that old tenants mail. I'm never around when the mail is delivered and am wondering if there is more than one carrier, and therefore, they don't all always see the notes or returned mail.

I asked at my local post office and the woman there told me to do what I have already been doing (leaving the notes on the mail and sticking it back in the outgoing mailbox). Obviously though, that's not working. Tomorrow, I plan to tape a note to the inside of my box that they will have to notice in order to stick the mail in which says: "John Doe has moved and is no longer at this address. Forwarding address unknown. Please only leave mail for (my name)".

Not sure if this will help or not but it seems to be the only option I have left. Makes me wonder what sort of person moves without making sure to have their mail forwarded.
posted by RoseovSharon at 5:04 PM on November 3, 2005

We wrote "moved" on the previous tenant's mail and left them on our doorstep outside for the mailman - when we returned that day we found the mailman had scribbled out "moved" and written "TRASH". So now we just throw it all away - which seems wrong, but we don't know what else to do. Luckily none of it looks important.
posted by soplerfo at 5:34 PM on November 3, 2005

The places I've lived at in the north east all asked me to write my name on a piece of paper and tape it inside the mailbox. The only mail we got from that point on was the ones in our name. Depends on the mailbox style though - I can see folks have some privacy fears but then again, if your mail box is accesible to the public people can get your name from reading the mail addresse.
posted by jwells at 5:49 PM on November 3, 2005

At one previous apartment I wrote both of our names on a piece of paper, then added "No others at this address" and taped it to the inside of the mailbox door. Within a week we'd stopped getting mail for previous tenants.

I haven't bothered with that at my current place; I just took a few pieces of mail for the previous tenant, drew a slash through the address, wrote "No longer at this address", and left it for the carrier to pick up. They got the hint pretty quickly and I haven't seen any misdelivered mail since.
posted by Mars Saxman at 5:51 PM on November 3, 2005

I returned to sender the one piece of real mail I got for someone else. The junkmail, bills, and collections notices I just toss.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:04 PM on November 3, 2005

We have continually gotten mail for one previous resident, who appears to owe the IRS a lot of money. (We get IRS envelopes, postcards from tax attorneys offering their assistance -- apparently the IRS sells the names of the deadbeats! -- etc.) I don't even think this person was living there right before we were; AFAIK she wasn't one of the folks who sold us the house. We've talked to the Postal Service, and I've even called the IRS to say "hey, we don't know this person, she doesn't live here, and hasn't lived here for at least nine years, so could you please stop sending this stuff?"

Nothing has worked. We still get mail trying to track her down. However, her alumni association seems to have figured out a long time ago that she doesn't live here. Apparently they are better at that than the IRS!

So, the suggestions others have made might work for you, but they might not -- they haven't for us.
posted by litlnemo at 6:07 PM on November 3, 2005

At my previous apartment in GA, I asked the post office what to do and they said strike out the person's name and write "moved" while leaving it in the mailbox for the postman. I think they ask for the striking out of the name to make it obvious that it's the wrong address, whereas writing on mail alone might be glanced over.
posted by jmd82 at 6:09 PM on November 3, 2005

I recently found this wonderful site. Scroll down to "To stop mail addressed to former residents, or a former spouse." There's lots of good information about stopping all types of unwanted mail.
posted by hydrophonic at 6:48 PM on November 3, 2005

Even if your letter carrier knows that the person has moved, you might end up with someone filling in for them. That means the casual employee has no knowledge (or care). So you end up with the mail.
posted by acoutu at 8:19 PM on November 3, 2005

Talk to the people at the post office, they helped me out when I had the same problem. If that doesn't work, here (Australia) if you move house you can go to the post office and fill out some form/pay a small fee and have your mail redirected, presumably to your new place.

Perhaps you could fill out the form as [previous tenant] and get the mail redirected to an empty block/non-existent address. A potential limitation of this plan is that it could be mail fraud... I'm not sure.
posted by teem at 8:19 PM on November 3, 2005

I had this problem for more than a year at my old place. Nothing fixed it and even after I moved I'm sure that the new tenants are still getting mail for the same people I did.

I called the USPS (1-800-ASK-USPS) about it and was told to write a letter to the post master of your local post office. In the letter explain that you are the current resident of your address and that So and So no longer is living there. Include a couple of the misdirected envelopes along with your letter.

I did that and it didn't work for me, I continued to get mail for the last four tenants of my apartment.

I also tried (without success) crossing the address off the envelope and writing "POSTMASTER: Addressee is no longer at this address. Please forward. Do not redeliver to this address." (If I didn't include "Do not redeliver to this address" 9 times out of 10 I would get the letter or bill or what ever back.

On the back of the envelopes I would write "Addressee please update your forwarding address."

By the time I moved out I had taken to writing all that stuff on the envelope and, using a black Sharpie blacking out the bar codes along the bottom of the envelope.

None of it worked.

It sucks. Good luck, I feel your pain.
posted by thefinned1 at 8:34 PM on November 3, 2005

You've already marked a best answer, so I doubt you'll return to read this; but for future Googlers: Your mailman is your first line of defense. Don't run to the post office; depending on where you live, your local post office may not even have direct contact with your mailman. Trust me: He doesn't want to do any extra work. Mark the unwanted mail appropriately and leave it in the box for him to return to sender; he should take care of the rest.
posted by cribcage at 9:22 PM on November 3, 2005

One thing I was told at the post office (NY), was to put "RETURN FOR CARRIER ENDORSEMENT" on the envelope. Supposedly, this ensures the carrier gets a heads-up that the person no longer lives there. But then, the route I'm on changes carriers regularly - I've seen more than five.

I've been in my house for a little over a year, and used to get a lot of mail addressed to the previous owners. Now, almost never. But, maybe it's also a time thing.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 6:36 AM on November 4, 2005

Writing on the envelopes and returning them to the mail system is appropriate and legally necessary (compared to throwing out someone else's bills) but it does not fix the problem - I had this issue, and I was told to label my mailbox clearly. It now bears my last name, my wife's last name, and my Corporation's name, and I NEVER recieve mail for anyone else anymore.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 11:00 AM on November 4, 2005

Or you could be creative: just fill out a change of address form wth a nearby vacant property.
posted by toothless joe at 11:12 AM on November 4, 2005

In a lot of places, the postal service is just totally incompetent. I get several pieces of mail each week for the previous resident, even though I know for a fact they have a forwarding order in effect (I have the forwarding confirmation letter). The post office just ignores the forwarding order.

So several times a week, I cross out the address and write "moved - please forward" on each envelope and stick them on top of my mailbox. I have been doing this for six months so far. Occasionally, the same piece of mail shows up at my house again a few days later, despite my note on the front.

My point is that just because you are getting the mail, it doesn't mean that the person didn't bother to have their mail forwarded. Don't throw it away because you assume they don't want it.
posted by clarissajoy at 3:34 PM on November 5, 2005

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