Should You Let a Tenant Store That?

Jon Fesmire | March 13, 2017 @ 10:43 AM

As a self storage facility operator, you want to protect your property and business from legal problems, fires, pests, and more. The problem is, you are somewhat at the mercy of your tenants, who might store unsafe items without your knowledge.

Because of that, make sure they know what you allow and what you don’t. These items should be specified in the contract. However, also consider giving out information sheets to reinforce the rules. Some items should not be kept in any self storage locker. A few others are up to your discretion. This list should help.

Things Your Tenants Should Never Store

  • Hazardous Materials - These include various materials that can cause serious damage to items, the building, people, and so on. They include anything flammable, like gasoline, kerosene, propane, asbestos, paint, strong cleaners, and fertilizer. These hazardous materials simply pose too high a risk to a self storage facility.

  • Perishables - Do not allow your tenants to store perishables. That means any food that will eventually go bad. This includes fruits and vegetables, bread, cereal, and other boxed foods. These items attract pests, mostly rodents and bugs, which can spread disease, get into other units, and so on. Do allow tenants to store non-perishable, canned foods.

  • Living Animals or Plants - A self storage unit is neither a green room nor a kennel. Living plants and animals will attract pests and do not belong in a storage unit. Besides, keeping an animal in self storage is simply cruel.

  • Dead Animals or Plants - This falls under “perishables.” Tenants should dispose of dead plants and animals in an environmentally friendly way, and that does not mean keeping them in a self storage unit.

  • Stolen Goods - It should go without saying that this is illegal, and therefore any stolen items do not belong in a self storage unit.

  • Unregistered Vehicles - Your facility may not allow vehicle storage at all. However, if you do have a vehicle storage facility, make sure your tenants know that they are required to have their stored vehicles registered.

  • Ammunition and Explosives - Bullets, hand grenades, fireworks, and the like do not belong in self storage. These could also fall under the heading of “Hazardous Materials.” They are flammable, which means if your facility does catch on fire, stored ammo and so on could go off, causing much more damage and possibly hurting people.

  • Illegal Drugs - If an item is illegal, it doesn’t belong in a self storage facility, period. Tenants can keep prescription medications in self storage, but illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia needs to be prohibited.

Things to Consider

  • Gasoline in Vehicles - If your facility includes vehicle storage, then you should allow for gasoline in the tanks of the cars, motorcycles and RVs that tenants store there. In fact, when a tenant brings their vehicle in for storage, the tank should be full. This does not include vehicles like lawn mowers. While tenants can store such machinery, all gasoline needs to be drained, and the tanks cleaned, before storage.

  • Taxidermy - This is a special case you’ll want to weigh carefully. What precautions has the taxidermist taken to ensure that his or her stuffed animals will not attract pests? Unfortunately, taxidermists do at times have pest problems, so you may simply want to disallow this, but if a tenant brings up the possibility of storing stuffed moose heads or birds, you might want to consider allowing it.

  • Guns - Most self storage facilities don’t allow guns to be stored on site. Some states, in fact, have laws prohibiting it. If your state allows it, and your tenants need a place to store their firearms, you may want to consider allowing this. Of course, they need to know that the firearms must not be loaded, and that they cannot store ammunition. If you can’t legally allow it, or choose not to, there are other options available for tenants.

  • Marijuana - Is your facility in a state where marijuana is legal, either medicinally or recreationally? Then you may want to consider allowing tenants to store it. However, they would need to keep it in containers that would protect it from pests. You may even have local marijuana dispensaries looking for somewhere to store extra stock.

  • Urns of Human Ashes - Families sometimes keep funeral urns containing the ashes of beloved relatives at home, and those can find their way into self storage. These are harmless and should be allowed.

From time to time someone may ask if they can store something you hadn’t considered, but that you’ll find questionable. If something in the “never store” category list applies to it, then you should almost certainly disallow it. If not, even if it’s something that makes you feel uncomfortable, as urns of ashes or marijuana might, then you should consider allowing it.
Jon Fesmire

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