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Abandoned Storage Units

Renting a self storage unit is always an excellent option for storing personal items and decluttering your home, garage or office. Unfortunately, thousands of these units are abandoned by their renters each year. A renter may fail to keep up with payments due to financial hardship, or the unit may become abandoned due to the renter’s untimely death, incarceration or due to an oversight.

What to expect when a storage unit is abandoned

  1. A rental contract should specify how many consecutive payments can be missed before the unit is considered abandoned. Typically, the renter will get monthly bills in the mail. The storage facility manager also may send out reminder letters and make phone calls. However, after the amount of time specified in the contract has elapsed, the storage facility manager has the right to declare the unit abandoned.
  2. What happens next may vary somewhat according to state or local laws. Generally, the facility manager will place an ad in the local newspaper that includes the name of the renter. It will state that this person’s storage unit has been abandoned due to failure to pay rent and will announce that the contents of the storage unit will be placed for auction on a specified date and time.
  3. Auctioning off the contents of the unit will allow the facility to recoup the lost rent. It also will clear out the unit and get it ready for a new tenant.
  4. The public is invited to the abandoned storage auction. Everyone including the owners of the property will have a chance to bid on the contents of the storage unit.
  5. The unit will be kept secured until the time of the auction when the door will be opened and the crowd will get their first peak inside.
  6. Contents will vary. Some units will have been picked over by their owners for wanted items before management barred their access to the space. They will have left behind only what they did not consider valuable. Other units may be filled to capacity with boxes full of miscellaneous items.
  7. Bidders will typically not be given the opportunity to go into the unit to look around or to handle the items.
  8. The facility owner or manager will decide weather or not the entire unit will be auctioned off as a whole lot or if it will be auctioned off in separate pieces. This may be regulated by state or local laws.
  9. Auction time will often be the first time the owners or operators of the facility have entered the storage unit. The manager will see whether or not the renters were in compliance with the facility’s rules regarding the types of items allowed in a unit. Often the contents of the abandoned storage unit will fail to comply with the rules set forth by the facility. Common items left in abandoned units are not allowed in storage unites include stolen items, drugs, hazardous materials, perishable food items and pet supplies. When possible, these items typically will not be auctioned but, instead, will be confiscated and removed by the appropriate officials.
  10. Auctioned items will bring in various prices. A storage unit may bring in just a few dollars or a few thousand dollars, depending on the contents of the unit and the bidders at the auction.

Before renting a storage unit, evaluate your budget and make sure you can keep up with payments. Be realistic. Do you really want to spend that extra monthly payment on storage, or would you rather spend the money on other bills or for a night out? If you really need the unit temporarily but can afford it for only a short time, set up a timeline for removing the items and stick to it.

To fit your belongings into the smallest and least expensive unit possible, sell, toss or donate anything that you do not need. Then, check with management periodically to ensure that they have received your payments. At the first signs of trouble, remove your items, even if you cannot cancel the contract until you pay. You do not want your items trapped inside the unit when management changes the locks. Unless you pay all outstanding fees, anything in the unit will be auctioned.

With a little planning, you should be able to avoid losing your valuables and keepsakes to a self storage auction.

The advice on this website is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only. “Storage Tips” are offered as-is and no warranty is expressed or implied. For more information, see StorageFront’s Terms and Conditions.

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