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Managing self-storage facilities involves more than providing storage for personal or professional use. Storage facility managers must comply with legal procedures mandated by storage unit law in the state the business is operating.

Not only should you have a basic understanding of storage unit law, but adhering to the law is non-negotiable. These laws serve as a protection of the rights of the facility owner, as well as the tenant. They establish guidelines for rental agreements, security and access, payments, and overall storage unit management.

Rental Agreements

Storage unit laws govern rental agreements between storage unit owners and renters. Furthermore, rental agreements should be clear and legally binding. Invest in storage unit management software that can eliminate paperwork and human error.

Security and Access

Storage unit laws address security requirements that storage facility owners must adhere to. This may include features such as:

  • Secure locks
  • Surveillance systems
  • Restricted access to the storage facility

Compliance with these laws ensures the safety and protection of your customers' stored items, providing peace of mind for both.

Payment and Late Fees

Storage unit laws also address guidelines on rental amounts, accepted payment methods, and storage unit late fees. These guidelines help maintain a fair and transparent relationship between the parties involved.

Being knowledgeable about storage unit laws allows you to handle delinquent accounts and abandoned units properly. Each jurisdiction has specific regulations regarding lien sales and the disposal of abandoned property. 

By following these laws, you can lawfully recover unpaid rent or fees and deal with abandoned items in a manner that protects your business while respecting the rights of the tenant.

Dispute Resolution

Storage unit laws guide disagreements or disputes between the storage facility owner and the renter. These laws outline the appropriate steps to follow.

  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
  • Eviction

The purpose is to resolve conflicts efficiently and fairly.

Storage unit laws establish standards that safeguard your business. Failure to comply with these laws may result in penalties, fines, or even legal action. 

Prioritizing compliance with storage unit laws establishes a respectable reputation as a storage facility while meeting your customers' needs

Self-Storage Laws.

Self-storage laws are in place to regulate the operations of self-storage facilities and ensure the rights and safety of both facility owners and renters. These laws cover various aspects, including but not limited to storage unit auction regulations, initiating the lien process, and why it's illegal to live in a storage unit. 

Storage Unit Auction Laws

When a renter defaults on their storage unit payments for an extended period, you have the legal right to proceed with a lien sale or auction to recover the unpaid fees. These auctions are usually public, and the proceeds cover delinquent rent and fees. 

Storage facilities must follow certain procedures before initiating the legal process. Make sure you check the storage unit auction laws in your state before scheduling an auction. You must comply with the lien laws, as well as self-storage laws, in the state your business is located. Legally, you have to notify the renter of the sale and follow proper procedure for the renter to resolve the unpaid balance.

Disclosure and Rental Agreements

Self-storage facilities must provide clear and transparent rental agreements to their customers. These agreements should outline the following terms and conditions of the rental.

  • Rental fees
  • Late payment policies
  • Access hours
  • Additional charges

Thoroughly read and understand all documents to avoid any potential disputes or misunderstandings.

Insurance Requirements

Renters need to know that the storage facility has limited liability. As a result, many states require self-storage operators to inform their customers about insurance options to protect their stored items. While self-storage facilities must have security measures in place, renters need to know that some states may mandate your facility to offer insurance or require renters to have insurance. 

Prohibition of Living in Storage Units

Why is it illegal to live in a storage unit? Not only is living in a storage unit dangerous, but it is also illegal and against self-storage laws. Various local and federal housing laws prohibit living in a storage unit. Self-storage units are designed to temporarily store belongings, not as living spaces.

Storage facilities must evict anyone living on the premises to comply with the applicable laws and most insurance policies. Adhering to the applicable laws allows you to continue operating your business conveniently and without worry.

Storage Unit Renters Rights.

The lease agreement protects storage unit owners and the renter of the storage unit. Here are a few general principles for storage unit renters' rights.

  • The right to a safe place to store their belongings
  • The right to a secure place for storage
  • The right to privacy
  • The right to fair and transparent fees

Furthermore, you must uphold and prioritize the safety and security of all renters. Concerns or violations should be promptly reported, addressed, and resolved quickly. 

Storage Unit Rent Increase Laws.

Storage unit rent increase laws vary by state. No matter the state, increasing storage unit rent is necessary to stay competitive and profitable.

Aside from frequency and amount, storage unit rent increases are required to adhere to the following.

  • Guidelines
  • Rules
  • Regulations 

Some states allow storage facilities to increase the rent without notice. Other states require storage facilities to give notice of rent increases within a certain time before the increase is put into effect.

Of course, your tenants may or may not agree with the rent increase. Tenants who disagree with the increase may either communicate their disagreement, give notice of discontinuing the rental, or abandon the storage unit altogether. 

Review the lease agreement, as well as state laws regarding storage unit rent increases, to gain a better understanding of your legal rights and options.

Signs Someone Is Living in a Storage Unit.

Can you live in a storage unit?

No. Living in a storage unit is dangerous and, most importantly, illegal and against self-storage laws. While commonly considered minor, several local and federal housing laws prohibit living in a storage unit. 

Self-storage units are designed and intended for temporary storage of belongings, not as living spaces. Also, residential zoning laws and building codes prohibit living in non-residential spaces such as storage units. Here are five signs someone is living in a storage unit.

  • Frequent visits: If you notice someone frequently coming and going from a storage facility, especially during unusual hours, it could be a red flag and a clear indicator that they live in the storage unit.
  • Unusual items: People living in storage units may have makeshift beds, cooking equipment, or personal belongings such as toiletries or laundry, indicating someone uses the storage unit as a living space.
  • Extended stays: Individuals in storage units might stay for extended periods, possibly even overnight.
  • Limited personal interaction: Those living in storage units may be wary of conversing or interacting with facility staff and other customers.
  • Restricted access: A padlock constantly attached to the storage unit door, preventing access by facility staff, can be another sign of someone living in the unit. 

If you discover someone homeless living in storage units, give the person(s) a warning before reporting your observations to the local authorities or the storage facility management. 

You may be able to empathetically provide resources or support. Many cities have homeless outreach programs that can help connect people who need help with help. There are also local non-profit organizations, shelters, and social services that can offer resources and support to homeless individuals.

Storage Unit Eviction Process.

If the storage unit eviction process is necessary, you should proceed legally and professionally. Giving the tenant a notice and/or warning first before following through with an eviction is legally required. 

In most states, the storage facility must provide the tenant with a 10-day notice to vacate the storage unit documenting the reason for violating the lease agreement. Some states require a 30-day notice to vacate the storage unit.

Either way, the notice must include a deadline by which the tenant must resolve the violation.

If the violation isn't resolved, the storage facility then has the legal right to continue with the eviction process. By law, all states require the storage facility to file a lawsuit against the tenant in the appropriate court. If all legal requirements are met, a judge will authorize the eviction.

After the court authorizes eviction, you can evict the tenant from the storage unit and follow the next steps. 

  • Enter the unit
  • Remove any items left in the unit
  • Change the lock
  • Place items in storage for a certain period jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

Additionally, if the result is eviction, you can sell any items left in the storage unit, usually by auction, which helps pay the tenant's debts and/or fees. Due diligence is the only way to have answers to what the storage unit auction laws are in your state.

Research the applicable laws if you need to know how to handle homeless living in storage units or how to evict someone living in a storage unit, Or consult with an attorney for assistance.

The ultimate goal of storage unit owners and operators is to drive occupancy, which requires knowledge of storage unit law. Reach out to the professionals at Adverank who can help drive occupancy through their pay-per-click campaign and social media advertising while using customer data as part of PPC management.