There are many reasons why you might need to rent a storage unit, but before you take the plunge and sign the lease you should make sure to to do your research and ask the right questions to guarantee you are getting the right unit at the right facility for your particular needs. Here are 11 things you need to know before renting a storage unit.
Location may or may not be a large factor in your decision of where to store. If you are storing for long-term and will need frequent access, you probably want a facility that is as close as possible to your house, but if you are only storing for a few months and will not need regular access to the stored items, other issues such as security and price may be more important than location.
Choosing the right unit size the first time can save you time and money. It is important to measure your items to know how much storage space you will need. Consider how things can be stacked and include space for aisles if you will be storing long term. Take your measurements and calculate how much square footage you will need. Once you have an idea of which units may work for you, take the time to ask a storage facility to show you an empty unit. This will help you get a better picture of how your items will fit.
Many storage facilities offer different unit options such as drive up, dust control and climate control. Some units may also come with amenities such as electrical outlets. Drive up units are convenient since you can drive your vehicle right to door of the unit, but it is impossible to keep fine particles of dust from blowing under the door. Dust control and climate control units are located inside of larger buildings which offers better protection, but means you will have to deal with longer walks and most likely a door code to access your unit. However, if storing artwork or sensitive electronics, we highly recommend dust or climate control.
Having peace of mind that all reasonable steps are being taken to protect your belongings is crucial when selecting a storage facility. Security features you want include: gated access with unique codes for all renters, 24/7 CCTV surveillance across the entire facility, bright lighting on units during night time hours, and daily walk-thrus by staff. Ask specific questions about security features before renting.
Most facilities have set hours during which you can access the your unit. These hours typically extend beyond normal business hours into the late evening. Outside of these hours, the gate will be locked and no one will be allowed access. This is generally done as security measure to limit night time access to units and deter criminal activity. However, ask questions about access hours to make sure that they will work with your schedule.
6. Discounts and offers
Because self storage can be a very competitive industry it is common for facilities to have special discounts and offers for new renters. You should specifically ask about available offers, but be careful that a tempting offer isn’t ruined by one-time fees. For instance, some facilities offer your first month’s rent for only $1. However, when various fees are added on, you will find yourself paying much more. Avoid misleading deals by asking for a full quote on the cost for your first month and verifying your pricing once the discount ends.
7. Price changes
Before agreeing to a lease, try to find out the facility’s policy and history regarding price changes. Here are some questions you can ask: How often do you raise prices? When was the last time you raised prices? If you raise my rent, how will you inform me beforehand? You may also get a good idea on how often they raise rent by reading through Google, Yelp and Facebook reviews to see if there are a lot of complaints.
Understand what type of contract you are signing. Some storage facilities still offer long term contracts which will include penalties if you want to move out before the end of the lease. However, most facilities rent on a month to month basis. This means you can move out at anytime with no fees or penalties. Be sure to ask specific questions about the length of the lease and what happens when you want to move out.
9. Fees and Penalties
Every storage facility will have fees and penalties for late payments and other issues. For instance there may be a fee if your unit is not properly locked, or if you leave trash in the wrong area. Carefully read the section of the lease discussing fees to make sure you know what mistakes to avoid.
Most storage facilities require renter’s insurance. If you have homeowners insurance, it is likely that your policy will cover items in self storage. If this is case, you can present the declarations page of your insurance policy at the time you sign the lease. If not, the facility will probably require you to purchase renter’s insurance. This is an affordable option that will cover your belongings in case of natural disaster, fire or theft. Take the time to verify exactly what the insurance will cover.
This may be the most important thing to know about self storage: set a personal deadline. It is surprisingly easy to fill a storage unit and forget it. But your bill comes due every month, so it is important to have an exit strategy. Set a deadline for when you can realistically move out, and create a plan with clear goals to help you meet that deadline.