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to open the previous tenants' mail?

(28 Posts)
marenmj Tue 28-Jul-09 13:39:09

it has been over six months since they moved out, and just over five months since we moved in.

I have been dutifully forwarding unopened mail to the estate agent.

Saturday there was a bailiff removal notice put through the door (addressed to one of the previous tenants) and yesterday there was notices for both tenants about unpaid car tax. I've already called the bailiff company to let them know that they do not live here, so that is sorted.

given that several of the pieces of mail I have passed on look like collection letters and that we've now had a bailiff removal notice, I am inclined to open further letters and inform any collection agencies that they are no longer residents. I don't have a forwarding address, though I can only assume the estate agent does.

I don't want to get involved, but I don't want our credit rating affected or some zealous bailiff removing our stuff. I haven't told the RM sorting office yet, but I am concerned that if I do without informing the companies it will just escalate.

AIBU to try to extricate my address from this or should I just keep forwarding mail since the previous tenants debts really aren't my business?

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Tue 28-Jul-09 13:41:58

It is an offence to open someone elses mail. If there's a 'if undelivered return to....' on the back of the envelope then cross the adress off on the front, then write 'not at this address, please return to sender' and pop it in the post box.

rimmer08 Tue 28-Jul-09 13:41:59

i dont think YABU. i would be concerned about having a poor credit rating as it can be a house that is on the blacklist not the person.

SOLOisMeredithGrey Tue 28-Jul-09 13:42:06

It is illegal to open someone elses mail. I would just keep forwarding to the EA.

I still got previous peoples mail 5 years after they sold to me.

Don't know what you'd do re the credit rating though.

steamedtreaclesponge Tue 28-Jul-09 13:42:49

The same thing happened to me - the previous people in our flat were a bit dodgy and we got loads of threatening letters etc. I know it's tempting to open them, but please don't! It is illegal.

We didn't have a forwarding address, so put all the envelopes back in the post with "no longer at this address" written on the front and they stopped eventually. I would stop forwarding the post to your estate agent and start sending it back to the sender directly - it looks like the previous tenants are happily ignoring their debts knowing that the debt collectors have your address instead of theirs!

Good luck with it.

diedandgonetodevon Tue 28-Jul-09 13:43:51

Personally I would open them.
If you have bailiffs likely to turn up, I would want to know about it and be able to contact them first.

They are obviously ignoring any bills you kindly forwarded and have no intention of passing on their new address to their creditors.

Itsjustafleshwound Tue 28-Jul-09 13:44:08

I think it is illegal to open or read anything that is not addressed to you.

I think the best course of action is to inform the collection agencies by returning mail to the return address on the envelopes...

fluffyanimal Tue 28-Jul-09 13:45:32

It is illegal to open someone else's mail, but we had exactly this problem and in the end I did what you are thinking of doing - I opened the letters and rang the contact numbers to explain that the addressee didn't live there any more. It hasn't stopped the mail completely, but it has reduced it by loads. I found that simply putting return to sender on unopened mail didn't convince the debt collection agencies.

Telling the RM sorting office won't help, as they are obliged to deliver mail as addressed.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Tue 28-Jul-09 13:46:41

I have done this before. I'm sure it is illegal but who is going to catch you? You call the debt recovery company and inform them that they no longer live there. The company won't care that you opened the letter and the previous tenant won't find out. Self preservation IMO.

12StoneNeedsToBe10 Tue 28-Jul-09 13:47:22

You're definitely not on your own here.
We've had a number of cards popped through for the previous owner of house (well her son actually).
I rang them and said we'd bought the house on DATE and he no longer lived there. No problem, record updated. Then we got a second card advising a similar visit - rang them again advising that I'd already contacted them and was told that this was a different account shock so the git obviously had more than one creditor after him. No cards for about 3 months now, so hopefully that's sorted now.
Re the unpaid car tax - contact the DVLA and they'll give you an address to return the post to (it's not the usual address); send with a cover letter and they'll update their records.

marenmj Tue 28-Jul-09 13:47:45

Thanks all

I will just start returning mail to the senders. The bailiff company told me they would verify it through council recirds so hopefully other collectors would do the same!

Tamarto Tue 28-Jul-09 13:47:57

It is not illegal to open someone elses mail for the purpose OP describes.

'A person commits an offence if, intending to act to a person's detriment and without reasonable excuse, opens a postal packet which they know or suspect to have been delivered incorrectly.'

OP would have reasonable excuse.

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Tue 28-Jul-09 13:50:02

Yes but they have not been delivered incorrectly, the company, in good faith, believe that person still lives at that address.
You really are better off sending them back to the sender.

Deeeja Tue 28-Jul-09 13:51:25

I once lived in a flat and did not read or open the previous tenants mail or anything. That was until the police tried to raid my flat, they arrived with guns, I was in the house with my son who was 2 at the time, and opened the door to let them in. They were very surprised, I had to provide proof that I was not the previous tenant, they apologised and were quite nice about it. The previous tenants had been involved in all sorts of insurance/credit card fraud.

marenmj Tue 28-Jul-09 13:52:06

Oo... a reasonable excuse you say? I'm all for the direct path if I can take it. I would love to stop recieving 4+ letters for them per day!

rimmer08 Tue 28-Jul-09 13:53:51

even more reason to open the mail imo.

OrphanAnnie Tue 28-Jul-09 13:59:19

It will not affect your credit rating at all, the individual has a credit file not the property.

Tamarto Tue 28-Jul-09 14:00:06

lol who exactly is going to prosecute someone for opening a few letters to find out where they come from to stop them being sent.

Returning them usually does sweet FA, i know i've been there several times, everytime i ended up opening them phoning the companies and low and behold hardly any letters for previous owners. Funnily enough no one has ever reported me to the police and if by some miricle they have the police have not done anything about it. grin

Meglet Tue 28-Jul-09 14:02:35

I still open mail for the old bloke who died in my house 5 years ago. I send it all back, including bank statements, but have to open it to know who to send it to. I've never had any hassle for it.

hocuspontas Tue 28-Jul-09 14:04:17

What about unpaid mortgage payments? I am having a problem with next door who have a mortgage on their house but the mortgage company have us as the addressee and our address as the mortgaged property. If we try to sell or need another mortgage ourselves ( no mortgage at the moment) will our property flag up as having outstanding loans?

(Sorry for hijack op!)

notcitrus Tue 28-Jul-09 14:07:11

It's not illegal - as Tamarto says, it's only IF INTENDING to act to a person's detriment. If you only want to get the mail to stop being sent to you and for bailiffs not to harass the wrong people, it's perfectly fine.

Returning to sender will get general crap stopped eventually, but court summonses etc will still arrive. Signing all the names up to the Mail Preference Service helps, too.

Bramshott Tue 28-Jul-09 14:08:00

Hocuspontas - that would really concern me. If the mortgage company think that your neighbours mortgage is actually on your property, you need to sort it out asap.

marenmj Tue 28-Jul-09 14:12:39

's ok! I'm always interested in how addresses affect credit as I was told that credit rating is done by address when my bank approved a £10K credit card, one for me one for DH when we only had ~12 months credit history in the UK hmm

Thankfully my attached neighbour is a dear old lady and given that I'm forever helping put up a doorbell or pulling some weeds, I'm sure she would tell me about errant mail grin

hocuspontas Tue 28-Jul-09 14:14:38

Eek! Dp says nothing bad will happen to us and to stop worrying! Glad I posted. The mortgage company won't change their records on our say so unfortunately. (Have opened mail as you have probably gathered). Will get legal advice I think

PrincessToadstool Tue 28-Jul-09 14:17:05

I've lived here two years. Anyone know a U Anerobi? I get at least one piece of mail a day to this name. Often more. I am sick, sick, sick of it.

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