Can my landlord open an envelope that was addressed to me and then take the contents?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can my landlord open an envelope that was addressed to me and then take the contents?

On 10/27 my employer’s bank sent my labor check to my residence. As of 11/05 it had not arrived to my mail box, my employer requested a second check from the bank me sent. As of 11/09 I still had not received this piece of mail. On this day I told my apartment office that I was missing a check, and therefore rent would be late. On 11/15 my employer informed me that the 10/27 check had been cashed. I was confused since I was not the one who cashed it. We assumed someone had stolen the check. My employer contacted her bank and they found out that the UDR/Portico were the ones who cashed the check. It appears that this envelop/check arrived in the Portico office at 11/10 – but that is

still to be determined. The envelop was addressed to me, with my address. My employer had failed to

add my apartment number on the envelop. However, it was addressed to my name, and not UDR, Portico or a staff member. I was never notified that this piece of mail arrived in the apartment office.

The envelop was then opened by the staff. There was an unendorsed check inside addressed to me. This check was then placed in a pile and listed as a payment to portico. This check was never signed

over to Portico. This check was never endorsed by me. This check was then cashed as a rental payment towards my rent account. The morning of 11/15 I asked the office is perhaps there was an envelop with my name on it. The building manager said no, and that she had not seen anything with my name on it. I found out in the afternoon of 11/15 that this was false. They are stating that they opened the mail because it didn’t have an apartment number on it and that it was

Asked on November 16, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You can't really do anything except receive the funds back, which they have evidently offered: take them up on the offer. In terms of monetary compensation, all you are entitled to is the money they took; if they are willing to give it back to you, there is no point in suing, because you won't get anything more than you are being offered.
In terms of a criminal case, you could try to file a police report, since it is a crime to knowingly open another's mail or negotiate their check--but it's not a crime if it was an innocent error (e.g. human error) and it is unlikely (especially since they are wiling to return the money, implying strongly that this was a mistake, not a crime--criminals generally don't return what they stole) that you can prove that any person there knowingly did this.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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