4 Ways to Prevent Tenants From Living in Their Storage Units

Krista Diamond | Jan 30, 2017 @ 10:12 AM

A few weeks ago, a guy known only by the username 007craft started a thread on Reddit explaining exactly how he managed to live in a storage unit for two months. This being the Internet, his journey from casual self storage tenant to full time resident went viral. While most commenters wanted to know how much it cost, how safe it was and (of course) how he was able to get wifi, a lot of storage facility operators found themselves scratching their heads and wondering the same thing: How did he get away with it?

Tenants who take the liberty of using self storage to literally store themselves have always existed. In rare occurrences, facility managers are fine with the arrangement, but most of the time, that’s not the case. If you’re a self storage operator who is freaked out by the threat to your business that having an individual living in a storage unit might pose, take the following four steps to prevent tenants from moving in permanently.

1. Keep an Eye on Electricity Usage

Some facilities offer electricity in storage units, while others prefer not to. Whichever you choose to do, monitor electricity usage. If a particular unit is drawing a lot of power or your overall electricity use is spiking, this is a sign that you’ve got an unwanted guest spending the night. Even if you don’t offer electricity in your storage units, take into account outlets in your public restroom or on the outside of one of buildings.

2. Lock Your Bathroom

Speaking of your public restroom, locking it can be one of the most effective ways to discourage tenants from living in their storage units. If someone is living in a storage unit, they might have shelter but they still need water as well as a place to freshen up, go to the bathroom and throw away trash. If they have access to a public restroom, they’re able to get comfortable. Prevent this by locking your restroom after hours or by keeping it locked all the time and asking tenants to get the key directly from you.

3. Encourage New Tenants to Report Suspicious Behavior

No one wants to visit their storage facility late at night and hear a stranger rustling around in a nearby unit. Preventing live-in tenants isn’t just good for your business; it’s also good for the safety of your customers. Reassure your tenants that while the situation is not common, if they suspect that there’s a tenant living in a storage unit, they should let you know. Consider posting notices with this message as well. These will work doubly by encouraging concerned customers to come to you and by letting anyone thinking of moving into a storage unit know that you’re on the lookout

4. Walk Your Facility Grounds Often

Patrolling your property on a regular basis will make it harder for tenants to move in. Walk the facility grounds at various intervals rather than sticking to set times, that way an individual who is trying to move into a storage unit isn’t able to work around your schedule. While patrolling, keep your eyes—or rather, your nose—peeled and you just might detect one of the telltale signs that there’s someone residing in a storage unit: Scent. If you smell body odor, cigarette smoke or Sunday dinner coming from inside a storage unit, you’ve probably got a tenant setting up camp.

While one might earn a weird sort of notoriety by hunkering down in a storage unit and living to tell the tale, we’re willing to bet that the storage facility that Reddit user 007craft called home for two months isn’t exactly enjoying the fame. Follow our tips and employ some of your own know-how, and your storage facility can go viral in a good way.