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Stopping mail delivery at vacant apartments

When a landlord is faced with a vacancy, the first thing on their mind is generally filling the apartment as quickly as possible. Cleaning the unit, making improvements, getting an occupancy permit and finding a new tenant can all be pretty time consuming. So when a visit to a newly vacated apartment reveals a stack of the former tenant’s unread mail in the foyer, it can be a bit of an annoyance.

Unless the stack is simply junk mail, at some point, you are going to have to deal with getting the mail to the old tenant. If there are only a few pieces, labeling the mail “Return to Sender” and handing it to the postman can sometimes be the easiest route. But when the quantity is significantly more, it becomes more of a pain. Some property owners put notes that the unit is vacant on the mailbox to alert the postman, which will stop all deliver for the time being. But with all the copper theft and vandalism these days, such a note can be an invitation to potential burglars.

The simplest way for avoiding this issue, for both the landlord and former tenant, is to officially notify the United States Postal Service of the tenant’s change of address. The tenant has to do this on their own behalf, but the process can be handled quickly at any post office, free of charge. Best of all, the postal service recently made things even easier by allowing people to fill out their forwarding address online via the USPS Change of Address website. So when a tenant is preparing to vacate, make sure you send them this link and explain to them why they should register right away. It will save you the hassle of tracking them down, and allow them to keep timely mail deliver.

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Matt Kastner

Matt Kastner is an Investment Real Estate Consultant at St. Louis Real Estate Society in St. Louis, Missouri. He is also develops properties on the side through Threshold Properties. When he isn’t representing investors in the purchase or sale of multifamily properties, rehabs, foreclosures and other income producing properties, he is often taking on rehab projects himself. He lives in South St. Louis and has been in the real estate business since 2004.

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