If you're a fan of the reality TV show "Storage Wars", you may be keenly aware of the legal issues that come with renting a self-storage unit.
Renting a storage unit is a lot like renting an apartment. In both cases, you typically sign a lease and enter into an agreement setting forth the rules for using the unit.
But unlike renting an apartment, there are a lot of unique issues with a storage unit. Here are just a few to keep in mind:
- Your property may be auctioned off. Forget to pay your rent, and you may find an empty locker awaiting you. In fact, the whole premise of the TV show "Storage Wars" is people bidding on abandoned lockers. However, storage companies typically have to follow several steps before they can begin selling off your stuff. Notably, they generally have to give you notice and an opportunity to come pick up your stuff.
- Your property may be stolen. Theft is a common problem with self-storage units. As a result, you may have signed a waiver agreeing that the storage company bears no liability for any theft or loss. Still, there may be situations in which the storage company is liable regardless of what you signed, including inside jobs and utterly careless security.
- There are limits to what you can store in a storage locker. Read carefully the fine print in your rental agreement. There may be a list of things you can't keep inside your storage locker. This can include highly flammable items and other potentially dangerous objects.
- You can't live in your storage locker. Looking for a cheap apartment? A storage unit is not the answer for you. Most storage companies will make you sign an agreement saying that you will not live in the locker. Violate the agreement, and you will find yourself without a home -- and without a locker.
Many types of storage-unit disputes are covered by your written rental agreement. But if you're facing serious legal issues that may trigger a real-life "Storage War," you may want to contact an attorney to learn how to best protect your rights.