10 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Storage Facility

Jon Fesmire | January 31, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

First time renting a storage unit? Not sure what size you’ll need, if you have to get insurance, or what features you need? Don’t worry. This article will fill you in so you’ll have some basic knowledge when looking for the right storage unit for you. Here are 10 questions to ask a storage facility before you sign that lease.

What size unit do I need?

It can be difficult to estimate what size unit you’ll need. Start with our handy guide that explains how much you can fit into each of the standard sizes. When you visit a facility, ask the facility manager what he or she recommends based on how much you want to store.

Should I get a storage unit with climate control?

For many self storage renters, climate control is essential. Whether you need it or not depends primarily on what you’re storing, the local weather, and how long you will have your items in storage. Discuss these things with a self storage rep. The good news is that climate controlled units rent for only about 25% to 30% more than standard units, and they are designed to keep your belongings in great shape.

Should I get an indoor unit, or a drive-up unit?

What do you plan to store? If it’s primarily small and medium sized boxes and items in that size range, then an indoor unit is probably best. If you have heavy, large items, like couches and other furniture, or a washer and dryer, then a drive-up unit with a roll-up door would be better for loading and unloading. The facility can make recommendations based on what they have and ease of access.

What does the security system include?

There are a few security system measures that all self storage facilities should have. These include a high stone or cement wall, gated access, a camera surveillance system, good lighting, and an alarm system. Ask your potential facility what they use, and ask them to point out the cameras and lights.

Are the units individually alarmed?

This is a nice feature to have, but not absolutely necessary. When a facility has individually alarmed units, if a unit is broken into, the facility manager and the alarm monitoring company get alerted as to the exact unit where a potential theft is taking place. This isn’t a common feature, so if a facility doesn’t have it, this alone shouldn’t keep you from renting there.

Do you have smoke alarms and a sprinkler system?

In most areas in the U.S., having smoke alarms in every building is the law. However, it’s still a good idea to ask about them. Ask how far apart are the alarms in each hallway and what the facility does in the event of a fire. You may not like the idea of your items getting doused in water, but that’s much better than them burning to ashes.

What are the gate hours?

Hours of operation can vary greatly between facilities. Some are open until 6:00 pm. Others stay open 24 hours. Find out before you rent. Perhaps you have a flexible work schedule, and it’s fine if a facility closes early. Perhaps you work late, and need to get into your unit after midnight.

Does a manager live on-site?

Some facilities have a manager who lives on the premises. This can deter would-be thieves, and ensures someone is there to call the police in the case of a break-in. Again, this isn’t a necessity, but it’s a nice feature.

Are there security guards?

This is another one of those things that is nice, but not common, and typically not necessary. But yes, some facilities have nighttime security guards who patrol the grounds. If yours does, great! If not, don’t be too worried. The most effective tool a facility has against theft is a good security system. If yours has one, you have little to worry about.

How do you handle pest control?

Many facilities have exterminators come by on a monthly basis to set traps around the perimeter of their facility and to inspect the common areas for signs of pests. Other measures that a facility may take are sealing up any cracks in walls and gaps around pipes. They should also let all customers know what items are prohibited in storage. These include open food or beverage containers, plants, and animals, things that attract pests like bugs and rodents. Ask yours what measures they take.

For more information about self storage, browse through our blog. We have an extensive collection of articles to help with all aspects of self storage, and we’re adding new articles all the time.

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