If you are like most people who rent a self storage unit, you might be more concerned about cleaning out your basement or moving into your new house than you are about the specifics of your rental contract. However, that special document contains important information that can dictate your storage success. Here are three things you should never do when you rent a storage unit, and what might happen if you decide to ignore this advice:
1: Share Your Space With A Friend or Family Member
When you mention your need for a storage unit, you might be surprised with how many people chime in and volunteer to share the space with you. To drive down your monthly cost and to get a little help on moving day, you might be more than willing to share your unit with a friend or family member.
Unfortunately, sharing a space isn't always the best idea. Most storage facilities only allow one person to be named in the contract. If you decide to be the one whose name is listed, and your buddy decides not to pay, you might be held legally liable for the debt. On the other hand, if your friend volunteers to be named in the contract, and then you get into a fight, they might have full control over the unit and all of its contents. Your disgruntled friend might decide to switch out the locks or change the gate code to keep you from accessing your stuff.
To avoid problems, rent your own storage unit and ask your friends and family members to do the same. You might end up footing the bill on your own, but you won't have to worry about relying on another person.
2: Forget About Your Bill
If you are like most people, you might have to prioritize your monthly expenses from time to time. Instead of paying that past due library balance, you might decide to take care of your rent and car payment first. If you have a storage unit chock full of beat-up college furniture and old textbooks, it can be easy to overlook the bill. Unfortunately, forgetting your rent can cause these problems:
- Late Fees: To encourage you to pay your bill, most storage facilities charge late fees. These fees average $10-$25 a piece, but some places charge them a few times a month.
- Auction: Storage facilities only make money if they are renting to paying tenants. To clear the way for someone who might pay their bill, storage facilities auction off abandoned units periodically. If you forget about your bill for a few months, you might return to the facility only to find a cut lock and an empty unit.
When you are filling out storage unit paperwork with an on-site manager, make sure that you understand how late fees are assessed and when your unit will be considered abandoned. Ask about grace periods, so that you know how much of a buffer period you have. If you discover that you might be late on your payment, contact the facility immediately.
3: Disregard Vacating Procedures
Contrary to popular belief, moving out of a storage facility generally involves a little more than gathering a few of your friends and loading a van. Storage facility contracts generally outline vacating procedures, which tell you how to end your legally binding contract. Here are a few things that your facility might regulate:
- Unit Cleanliness: Most facilities require their tenants to leave units broom-clean and free of debris. Never leave leftover boxes, unwanted belongings, or dust bunnies in your unit. If you do, you could be subjected to a cleaning charge.
- Written Addendum: Before you head off into the sunset with your moving truck, you might need to fill out a written addendum. This form frees you from liability for your unit.
Remember that leaving your unit clean and giving written notice helps the facility to understand your intentions. If managers find your unit dirty and vacant, they might assume that your unit was robbed. As soon as you know that you will be moving, contact storage facility managers to review vacating policies.
Paying attention to storage facility rules might help you to hang onto your carefully collected belongings and avoid unplanned expenses.