Storage space is something most of us can't get enough of - either at home or at work. When we run out, we may consider renting a self-storage space.
But not all self-storage companies are the same, so the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises renters to understand a storage facility’s policies before renting units.
“Storage units can be useful if you need to stash furniture when you’re moving or remodeling,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO. “You need to visit the facility first to make sure it’s secure and clean. And you need to stay current on your bills or the facility may get rid of your things.”
The BBB received more than 1,000 complaints last year about storage units. In many cases, customers said they were unable to access their storage units after paying a deposit, their belongings were damaged while in the units or in a few cases, items were taken from the units without their knowledge.
The BBB has identified seven major factors to consider when renting storage units:
- Cost. To make sure you’re paying a reasonable amount, get written estimates from at least three facilities before renting. In addition to a monthly fee, costs can include storage preparation, padding, packing or transportation. There can be extra options, such as electricity, pest control or insurance. Make sure you understand due dates and any minimum time to rent or contract renewal dates.
- Size. What units are available? Is there a maximum weight limit for unit contents? Can you stack stored materials to the unit’s ceiling?
- Climate. Consider the general climate and whether your belongings could be damaged by water or mold. You may want to consider a climate-controlled unit.
- Insurance. Make sure your things are insured for theft, fire or other damage. You may be able to buy insurance from the storage facility or another source. Some homeowners’ policies may cover self-storage. Check with your agent on what is covered.
- Safety. How is the unit secured? Does the door have a lock built in or do you need a heavy-duty padlock? Are there surveillance cameras on the property? Does the facility restrict access to renters or do strangers have access to the property? Is there an emergency phone number you can reach when the facility office is closed?
- Contract. Get everything in writing. Read and understand the contract and payment terms. Make sure the facility can get in touch with you in case there is a problem with your unit or payment.
- Access. What are the hours and any charges for accessing your unit? Is there adequate parking? How close can you park to the unit? Does the facility offer dollies or handtrucks to help you move your stuff in and out of the unit? Will your belongings fit through the doorway and inside the unit?
Renters need to pay their bills on time. If you have fees charged to a credit card, check the statement regularly. If your unit is labeled abandoned for nonpayment, your belongings could be put up for auction.
About the BBB
The BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews of more than 4 million companies, 11,000 Charity Reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.