Unwanted mail
February 18, 2008 1:27 PM   Subscribe

I am currently getting mail sent to my apt. for at least 6 previous tenants. How can I make it stop?

I live in Manhattan if that's relevant. They have all had their mail officially forwarded so it's just a few stray pieces now and then but it adds up to quite a bit over the course of a week.

I know all of them and so I generally save what looks important and give it to them when I see them. But it's annoying and I worry that I may inadvertently keep something that's time time sensitive. (Indeed, I've already done this.) Moreover, I don't think it's my responsibility.
posted by anonymous78 to Grab Bag (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Write RTS (return to sender) on them and put them straight back in the mailbox. And no, this isn't your responsibility.
posted by kisch mokusch at 1:31 PM on February 18, 2008

I don't know if there's anything you can do to STOP it, per se, but we get random pieces of mail at our house (that we've lived in for 5 years) for former residents. We write "incorrect address" on the envelope and put it back in the outgoing mail. The post office generally returns to sender or forwards to the correct address.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 1:32 PM on February 18, 2008

What we have done here is:

put all the previous tenants on the mail preferences no junk mail list for this address
write RTS or "return to sender" on anything that looks important.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 1:32 PM on February 18, 2008

I normally take a Sharpie and write 'RETURN TO SENDER' on the front of the mail and put it back in my box for pick up the next day. From what I understand the mail forwarding only lasts for amount of months and not forever. So when the mailing parties don't have the updated addresses they still make it to your house. After enough returns the companies seem to update their addresses.

Try it, it has worked for me.

posted by birdlips at 1:33 PM on February 18, 2008

heh, should have previewed first....
posted by birdlips at 1:34 PM on February 18, 2008

Response by poster: bottlebrushtree - i don't mean to be obtuse but can you clarify what you mean by "mail preferences no junk mail list?" is that something i do through the post office?
posted by anonymous78 at 1:34 PM on February 18, 2008

Make sure you cross out the POSTNET barcode as well.
posted by grouse at 1:42 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: No, not "return to sender." Mark it one of two ways: "Not at this address," or "Addressee unknown." That'll get the post office to make a note of it and to discontinue the deliveries.. Otherwise they think those previous six tenants are just really fussy about the mail they receive.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:51 PM on February 18, 2008

That's all you can do -- write RTS. The PO can't stop sending mail to your home. Otherwise, there would be nothing to stop other people living there from stopping your mail. (As is common during affairs, divorces, disputes, etc.)
posted by acoutu at 1:56 PM on February 18, 2008

Agree with mudpuppie- "return to sender" is for mail that is addressed to you, but unwanted for some reason. "Not at this address" or "moved" or "not known at this address" is more appropriate.
posted by gjc at 1:56 PM on February 18, 2008

Absolutely mark it "please forward" or "not at this address" or "addressee unknown" so that the P.O. knows that the delivery address is wrong. Otherwise it won't stop.

Adding the other (non-)tenants names to the bulk mail do not send list will cut down on mail addressed to them being delivered to your address, but it also will not alert the post office that those people do not receive any mail at your address because they don't live there which is kinda what you want the P.O. to know.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:58 PM on February 18, 2008

nthing write "not at this address" on the envelope and drop it in the mailstream. As an urban dweller who rotates through apartments frequently, I had a stamp made for this purpose.
posted by Brian James at 2:06 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The DMA’s Mail Preference Service is a way of getting off of mailing lists and junk mail. It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing. It often takes months to see any real change.

For more info, try googling "stopping junk mail" for more techniques.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 2:10 PM on February 18, 2008

Another vote for "not at this address." It's the exact response the post office gave me a few years ago when I was apt hopping with your same problem.
posted by jmd82 at 2:52 PM on February 18, 2008

This was asked before.

Co-op America says, "Stop previous resident mail. Mail addressed to a previous occupant of your house or apartment: If it's first class or "address correction requested mail", write "Return to Sender: Moved, Left no Address" on the envelope, cross out the barcode, and drop it back in the mail. If it's bulk mail, call or use a business reply envelope to tell the sender that the addressee has moved."
posted by jeri at 3:00 PM on February 18, 2008

Return to sender, not at this address is nice for this purpose. Business senders get to pay a hefty surcharge for returned mail. After awhile, the sender will take the hint.
posted by 26.2 at 3:18 PM on February 18, 2008

Since you know them, you could ask them to re-fill out the change of address form. Even 1st class mail only gets forwarded for 12 months.

For catalogs, if you want to spend a little more time, you can put their names into Catalog Choice and stop specific catalogs that way. (You have to do this for every name and catalog though...may only be worth it if it's truely driving you nuts).
posted by lemonade at 5:08 PM on February 18, 2008

I intermittently was having this very same problem. When I asked my mailman what the deal was (I happen to have a very cool mailman), we figured out it was the *idiots* who cover for him on his days off. No matter what they do at the post office, and no matter what instructions the regular route carrier does, if a covering carrier doesn't pay attention, you get fucked up mail.

Do the 'no longer at this address' thing with the Sharpie, but also call the Postmaster for the Branch specific to your address and complain.
posted by dancinglamb at 6:57 PM on February 18, 2008

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