Are you looking for a place to store possessions that won’t fit in your house? Finding a storage facility is similar to finding a trustworthy landlord.
To make smart decisions when signing a contract for a storage unit, spend time deciding on the type of storage unit you need. Gather the items you want to put into storage in one place. This will put into perspective how much space you need. Don’t forget, you’ll also need space to enter the unit and move around. If you ever need something, you don’t want a unit packed from floor to ceiling.
What to consider before renting a storage unit
Are any of your items temperature-sensitive? If so, you’ll need to have an indoor and climate-controlled unit. Are your items valuable? You’ll need a unit that has a good security and monitoring system. Also, purchasing insurance for the unit is a good idea, whether through the storage company itself or your insurance company.
Don’t make an impulse decision based solely on location and price. Don’t simply select the location closest to you. Keep your options open and ensure you have a few units to investigate before making a final decision. You may find that a faraway location will give you more features than you want.
Storage units: What to watch out for
Here are some of the things to look out for when shopping for a storage unit:
- Cleanliness and security: All businesses advertise that they’re secure and clean, but not all live up to their promises. Problems could include bug/animal infestations, leaking roofs, broken surveillance systems, unmanned entrances, and poor security of visitors. Look carefully when you visit.
- Hidden or additional charges: There may be additional charges for lock rental, insurance, late fees, utilities, and security. Ensure you get everything in writing and read your contract carefully so you aren’t surprised by add-ons later.
- Hiding in the small print: Read the fine print to look for all sorts of conditions relating to the responsibility of your possessions, the amount of notice for raising rent, and terms under which you’re deemed to have defaulted.
- Access to the unit: Look up the storage facility online and determine the gate and office hours.
Visiting storage facilities
Now that you know what you are looking for from the facility, it’s time to visit a few locations. Ask what’s included in the rate. Some full-service storage companies cost a little more but include extra services, such as free boxes, packing supplies, and transportation.
Don’t feel pressured to sign immediately on the dotted line, even if management tells you the units are limited. Spend the visit looking around and asking questions. First impressions are everything; you’ll often get a sense from that first visit of how the company treats customers.
As with any industry, some bad actors want to scam you. Storage scams can include:
- Complicity in theft: Through negligence or direct involvement, operators have been known to play a part in the theft of contents from locked units.
- Selling your stuff: In the case of a default, the owner is probably entitled to enter and auction off the contents. Some owners have made themselves inaccessible to receive payment to force renters into default.