BBB Tips for Storing Belongings in a Storage Unit

September 17, 2013

Nearly 1 in 10 American households rented a storage unit in 2012, making the self-storage industry one of the fastest-growing segments of commercial real estate, according to the Self Storage Association.

With such growth comes consumer issues. Better Business Bureau® received more than 1,400 complaints nationwide about self-storage companies. Complaints ranged from alleged unexpected rent increases to being uncompensated for damaged goods.

Before signing on the dotted line, BBB recommends consumers consider these seven factors when selecting a storage unit:

Cost. Obtain a written estimate that includes deposit, monthly rental fee, storage preparation and fees for extra options such as electricity, pest control and insurance. Ask how fees are to be paid and by what date.

Size. Ask what storage units and sizes are available based on your needs. Ask if there is a maximum weight limit for unit contents and if you are able to pack your belongings in the entire unit from floor to ceiling.

Climate. Keep in mind the general climate and whether your belongings might be subject to mold and/or water damage. If so, you may want to consider an environmentally-controlled unit.

Insurance. Make sure your items are insured from theft, fire or other damage. The storage facility may provide basic insurance or you can choose to purchase insurance from an alternate source.

Safety. Ask if the facility has surveillance cameras on the property and if a system is in place to restrict access.

Access. Ask if there are restrictions that determine what time of day you can access your unit. Also, get contact information in case of an emergency, both during and after business hours.

Contract. Get everything in writing, including the size and location of the unit, whether the unit is climate controlled, term regulations, insurance coverage and payment schedule. Make sure the facility is able to contact you either via email, home phone or cellphone should there ever be a problem with your unit or your payment.

Start With Trust. To find a list of local BBB Accredited storage unit facilities, visit