What to Do With Mail For a Previous Tenant

If you’re a new resident in a house or apartment, you’ll likely get snail mail sent for the previous tenant(s). What are you supposed to do with mail for a previous tenant and how do you stop it from showing up day after day? Because at some point, the task of taking care of it gets old.

Stuffed mailbox.

Stuffed mailbox.

Open, toss, shred?

In a word, “No.” It’s a federal crime to open or destroy mail that is not meant for you — even junk mail.

If you do open something by accident, not to worry, you won’t immediately hear sirens. Someone would have to prove you intended to steal something in order to involve the authorities.

If you know the previous tenant or the person whose name is on the envelope and that person told you to open the mail, then it’s all right to go ahead and do so. FindLaw cautions that if you get charged with “obstruction of correspondence,” you should contact a criminal defense attorney right away.

Trashing the mail is the same as destroying it. Plus, the sender will never know the person is no longer at that address. Also, the previous tenant may have filled out the correct forms, but this piece of mail fell through the cracks. That person might appreciate getting that $14 check from Great Aunt Gladys.

Note that you are not responsible for holding someone’s mail. If a previous tenant tells you that, reply with a hard “no”; they need to fill out a change of address form.

Looking at mail from the mailbox.

Looking at mail from the mailbox.

Send the mail along

If you know where the person now resides, you can forward the mail to them by crossing out the address only — leave their name — on the envelope. Write the new address near the incorrect one. Then, on the same side of the envelope write something like, “Please forward; not at this address.”

In addition, if there’s a bar code on the envelope, cross it out. This is part of the USPS’s automated system and removing it makes the system register the mail as “undeliverable.”

Thinking you’ll be a good citizen by filling out a change of address form for the other person is not a good idea. Again, this is a federal crime. Who knew? You do, now. If you fill out a change of address form for the person, they will get a notification in the mail, and you’ll be in hot water.

If you have no idea where the other person lives, write “moved,” “not at this address,” or “return to sender, address unknown” on the envelope. This lets the post office know that the person is no longer at your address, but the post office will not necessarily return the letter to the original sender.

Eventually, the post office will get all this information into the system and the wrongly addressed mail should stop coming to you.

What about junk mail?

It’s still mail and falls under the heading, “it’s a federal crime to open or destroy mail that is not meant for you.”

If you know that the intended junk mail recipient is deceased, you can report the death to the Direct Marketing Association. Click this link for “Deceased Do Not Contact Registration” to stop the junk mail from coming to you.

Mail.

Mail.

How can I make wrongly addressed mail stop coming?

If sending mail back doesn’t work, you can put a note into your mailbox. In the note, write to your mail carrier the names of the people who no longer live there. For example, “Former Tenant’s Name is not at this address” or “Please deliver mail only to Current Tenant’s Name.”

You can also speak directly to your mail carrier and explain the situation. Since you may not always have the same mail carrier every day, you have to hope that they bring back the news and share it with the office.

What should I do when I move?

You don’t want to annoy the next person who takes over your address.

As a first step, you should fill out a change of address form.

But there are entities you might want to contact directly. Consider reaching out to utility providers, the newspaper, schools, the IRS, Social Security Administration, DMV, election offices, the Department of Veterans Affairs or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Filling out the change of address paperwork and submitting it online is easy and painless. It takes 10 business days for the change to become effective. The USPS delivers to 160 million residences, businesses and P.O. boxes; they’ve got a lot on their plate so be patient.

Show some courtesy

When deciding what to do with mail from a previous tenant, you should do the right — and legal — thing by either forwarding the material or returning it to the sender. Don’t forget — you’re going to move someday, too, and would want the next tenant to show the same courtesy to you.

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Consider These Programs to Help You Repay Your Student Loans

A particularly disturbing trend is the number of older adults who continue to be dogged by student loans. At the end of 2020, roughly 8.5 million Americans who were at least 50 years old owed about $349 billion in federal student loans, up 37% from the fourth quarter of 2017, according to Federal Student Aid. Worse, that debt lingers past their working years.

“Every year, thousands of seniors are carrying student loan debt into retirement, and a lot of that is unnecessary,” says Martin Lynch, compliance manager and director of education for the nonprofit Cambridge Credit Counseling in Agawam, Mass., which provides free counseling on student loans.

If you’re struggling to repay federal student loans, ask your loan servicer if you’re eligible for one of four income-driven repayment plans. Payments are set as a percentage of your discretionary income, which is based on a comparison of your income and family size to the federal poverty guideline. The remaining balance may be forgiven after 20 or 25 years, depending on the plan. If you work for a state, municipality or nonprofit, you could qualify for forgiveness of your remaining balance after making 120 qualifying payments. Studentaid.gov has more information about loan forgiveness program. 

Although you could consolidate federal student loans with a private lender to get a lower rate, doing so will make you ineligible for federal loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment programs.

Source: kiplinger.com

How To Write an Appeal Letter If You’ve Been Denied an Apartment

You’ve been touring various apartments, and you find the perfect one. It fits your budget, the natural light is beautiful and it comes with great amenities. And then a curveball — your rental application gets denied. You’re not alone. Nine out of 10 people have their rental applications rejected. What now? You write an appeal letter. Here’s how to write an appeal letter to your potential landlord:

Well, thanks to the Fair Housing Act, landlords cannot reject applications based on an applicant’s race, sex, gender, national origin, color, disability or familial status.

Beyond that, there are many possible valid reasons for a rental application denial — including income, credit score, bad references, rental history and background check. This is why it’s essential to look at the property’s requirements closely.

If you feel like the landlord made a mistake with your rental application, here’s how to write an appeal letter to ask them to reconsider.

Writing a letter.

Writing a letter.

What is an appeal letter?

The appeal letter expands on an issue found by the landlord that led to the denial. For example, no previous formal rental history or maybe you have more income than you showed. If you feel like you have additional information or clarification that may change their mind and approve your application, you might want to try writing an appeal letter.

When to write an appeal letter?

The most optimal time to send an appeal letter is within a week from receiving the denial letter from the landlord.

First, make sure the unit is still available before sending it, if possible. Then put together all evidence as soon as possible and send it certified via mail to confirm receipt. Emails can get lost in inboxes or ignores. Check-in 48 hours after receipt via email if you haven’t received a response.

What to include in your apartment appeal letter?

Now that you’ve decided to appeal the landlord’s decision, it’s time to build your case.

Scan your denial letter carefully

Every denial letter must tell you the specific reasons why your application was denied. After reading it carefully, identify the details that you’d like to provide more clarification on for the appeal letter. If the letter is vague, ask for a new letter with more specific information about your denial. It will help you provide a better appeal letter.

Think of what reason you want to address and how

If you had an incomplete application with not enough references, provide those in the appeal letter. Or if you didn’t have a formal rental history, explain that it’s your first apartment or provide references from old informal landlords.

If your income doesn’t meet the requirement in the background check provided, share that you have more than one job and bank statements to corroborate your actual income. Or maybe the credit check showed the wrong score.

Writing.

Writing.

Address the appeal letter

Add your name, current return address at the top with your rental application date. Follow below with today’s date and the landlord’s name with property address below that.

First paragraph: Ask for reconsideration

This paragraph should focus on quickly explaining the reason for this appeal letter. Start by thanking the property manager for their time and share that you’d like for them to reconsider your application for this specific property.

Second paragraph: State your case

This is where you make your case. First, clearly state the reason for the appeal of the property’s decision and restate their reason for denying your rental application. Then add additional evidence or clarify why the property manager should reconsider. If your credit score was wrong, attach a new credit report from a bureau and explain why the error happened, for example.

Take your time to flesh out your reasoning before putting it on paper. Stay concise in this section but effective at making your case.

Third paragraph: Offer possible concessions

Here’s where you will quickly summarize your letter by restating your reason for the appeal and offer any additional concessions, like a larger security deposit or a shorter lease, for example. Mention the other documentation you’re attaching, if any.

Conclusion: Don’t forget to sign

Write ‘Sincerely’ and sign your name. Below that, print your name with your contact information for easy access.

Use persuasive language

Keep the letter concise and explain just the facts. Avoid any negative language or complaining throughout the letter. The letter must remain clear and impartial to highlight your points more effectively. You’re negotiating with the landlord via the letter so think about what you can offer to make you trust you over someone else.

Avoid being overly emotional or desperate. Just make sure you don’t concede too much that you put yourself at risk as a tenant.

Man reading.

Man reading.

How do you write an appeal letter for reconsideration?

Use this template below to write your appeal letter. You can also download a word document of this sample letter and make changes where necessary.

(Your name)

(Current address)

(Date)

(Name of landlord)

(Address of property)

(Landlord’s last name),

Thank you for taking the time to review my rental application at (property address with unit number) and now, my appeal letter. I understand that my application was not approved due to (reason for denial), but I wanted to share additional information for your consideration.

(Paragraph explaining your denial and what you’ve done to fix the problem.)

(Paragraph explaining what concessions you might be able to offer. Reference any attached documents here.)

Please feel free to contact me to discuss my rental application further. Thank you again for taking the time to review my rental application again for (property address with unit number).

Sincerely,

(Signature)

(Phone number)

(E-mail address)

Avoid getting your application denied for next time

Getting your hopes up about an apartment and then getting your rental application denied can truly crush you.

Most of the time, a rental application doesn’t have room for nuance, and that’s where the appeal letter can help with more details. Make sure to double-check your application before submitting it, too. If the apartment complex has other units available, it’s worth appealing their decision with more facts and seeing if you can nab an approval.

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Instacart vs. Shopping in Person: Which is Best for You?

You work eight hours a day, get stuck in traffic, hit the gym and somehow, you still need to scrunch up the energy to make a trip to the grocery store before getting home to cook. We’re tired just thinking about it.

Grocery delivery app Instacart aims to save you time by providing you with an on-demand personal shopper that picks up your groceries on the same day you place the order. Your first order is free and all subsequent orders include a small delivery fee when you spend $35 or more.

The catch, however, is the prices you pay for grocery items through Instacart may be slightly higher, often with a markup of up to 20 percent. Those higher prices can be worth it if you lead a busy life. But you also have to take into account the delivery fee (starting at $3.99), the driver tip (20 percent) and the service fee for the order. Each order requires a minimum of $10 on the cart.

To bring perspective into your decision, we’ve put together a list of items available at Publix, one of Instacart’s grocery store offerings, that shows the difference between picking it up at the store or ordering from Instacart.

1. Kashi cereal

Publix’s famous BOGO deal is available both in-store and through the app for Kashi Cereal. However, the buy one, get one free of equal or lesser price is cheaper in store. Most cereals in-store are priced at $4.49, but on the app, it’s 50 cents higher at $4.99.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

2. 4-grain eggs

The 12-count, 4-grain, large brown vegetarian eggs are on sale for $2.25 (regularly $3.35) on Instacart, but the Publix in-store flyer lists an offer of two cartons for $4.00.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

3. Califia Farms almond milk

For those that opt for Instacart, you’ll miss out on Publix’s 3 for $10 Coconut Almondmilk 48 oz. bottle deal. Each bottle on the app is $3.69, only $0.76 off.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

4. Cottonelle 12-roll package

Shoppers at Publix will save nearly 70 cents on top of the current sale of Cottonelle 12-roll package of double rolls if they stop by their local store instead of going the Instacart route.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

5. Romaine hearts

If you’ve got a Caesar salad in the works, romaine hearts are first on your shopping list. A 3-ct bag is 2 for $4, versus $3.29 each on Instacart.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

6. Annie’s mac ‘n cheese

Annie’s Homegrown shells and white cheddar mac ‘n cheese sells for $2.19 in-store, versus Instacart’s $3.09.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

7. Italian parsley

On the other hand, certain produce like Italian parsley are the same price in-store or via the app ($1.69) signaling true time savings since the cost is the same.

Verdict: Same price on both

8. Dove body wash

In the Instacart app, Dove moisturizing body wash (22 oz.) is $6.34 each with the help of an in-app coupon, same as in-store.

Verdict: Same price on both

9. Smithfield bacon

Smithfield’s natural hickory smoked bacon is up for grabs at Publix in-store for $5.58 (or through a BOGO offer). The BOGO offer is also available through the Instacart app, but it’s $6.19 each.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

10. Blueberries

Each pack of blueberries on Instacart is $3.69. That same pack of blueberries is going for 3 for $10 at your local Publix – an offer not available in the on-demand app.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

Adding it all up

There’s no right choice as the on-demand service is meant to be a complement to your busy life. If less stress and more time is worth spending a little extra money, then click away and wait for your order to arrive. If you’d rather save your money, then grab a shopping cart and hit the aisles.

These figures were accurate at the time this article was composed in February 2019. Prices on Instacart and Publix may have fluctuated since that time.
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

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How Important Should Parking Be in Your Apartment Search?

Parking can be key to your apartment search, especially if you’re expecting a commute. A good parking situation can be a huge bonus when you finally nab the right apartment. The last thing you want is to circle your block hunting for a spot every day. And even if you do get designated parking, it can sometimes be pricey.

At the same time, your lifestyle, location and budget might make parking less relevant. If you’re moving to a new place, how will you figure out if you even need to worry about it? To determine the importance of parking in your search, answer the following questions.

1. Do you own a car?

This is easy. If you own a car, parking should absolutely factor into your apartment search.

Want some less obvious advice? If you don’t have one yet, consider if you might ever own a car. Your set of circumstances is liable to change from year to year. If you stay in the same place long enough, you may just have to purchase your own vehicle.

At the very least, parking is something to consider, even if you currently depend on public transportation. You might end up taking a new job in the middle of your lease at an office located an hour outside the city, for instance. Take stock of your present plans and goals and be considerate of your future needs.

2. Will you pay extra?

Some apartments charge a rent premium for parking garages, an additional cost to consider when weighing your options. You’ll pay more for these residential properties than those without the same amenities, so if you don’t need a space, you should look elsewhere.

The U.S. is a car-friendly nation, and that puts parking costs at a bit of a premium. That means apartments without solid options are likely to charge less. If you’re willing to sacrifice convenience, you might add more flexibility to your monthly budget.

If parking is a premium amenity for you, you can still make sure you know what you’ll pay. Meet with the landlord and have a discussion over what they charge for a space, what kind of security is available and any other concerns you have before you sign a lease.

3. Are there other options?

You have choices in how you get from place to place, and while car ownership is attractive, there are alternatives you can turn to. Dockless bike-sharing programs have seen increasing popularity in many cities, with bicycle commuting up more than 60 percent since the turn of the century.

Many of these cyclists don’t want the additional responsibilities associated with vehicle maintenance, and city traffic is often challenging to navigate. Bike sharing, scooter sharing and ride sharing options provide freedom from these anxieties, and these are friendly on both the environment and the wallet.

These alternatives are usually located in bustling cities, so they might not be available in your area. If they do catch your interest, research different properties and browse around. If living without a car seems freeing, it may even change up where you decide to focus your apartment search.

Parking is always going to be a major concern for most renters, but your situation might be unique. Things are always changing, too, and the next time you’re looking for a place to live, there might be even more transportation options out there. Rethinking your priorities can help you find the apartment that meets all your needs.

Photo by John Matychuk on Unsplash

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