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Educational Consumer Tips

Renting a Self-Storage Unit - BBB Tips

Author: Better Business Bureau

Self-storage facilities dot the landscapes of new and older communities. Folks rent units to empty overflowing basements; to stash furnishings while moving or remodeling; or to store business supplies for future use. While most facilities are operated by reputable businesses, Better Business Bureaus field complaints from time to time regarding theft or property damage and rental disputes. Consumers are advised to shop carefully before signing on the dotted line.

The BBB recommends the following tips when selecting a temporary storage facility.

- Cost. Obtain written cost estimates from at least three facilities. When considering monthly rental fees, ask if there is a minimum monthly storage charge and/or a minimum number of month's storage. Also, consider the fees for any storage preparation, padding, packing or transportation services you may decide you'll need. Finally, factor in charges for extra options (electricity, pest control, insurance) that you plan to select.

- Payment. Ask how the fees are to be paid and by what date. Be clear on what happens to your possessions if you can't pay your bill on time.

- Size. What size storage units are available? Is there a maximum weight limit for unit contents? Can you jam-pack the entire unit from floor to ceiling?

- Climate. Consider the general climate and whether your belongings might be subject to mold 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 facility may provide basic insurance or you can choose to purchase insurance from an alternate source. Some homeowners' policies cover self-storage.

- Safety. You will need a heavy-duty, secure lock protecting your storage unit. Ask if the facility has surveillance cameras on the property and if a system is in place to restrict access by strangers. Ask for contact information to reach someone at the facility in case of an emergency.

- Contract. Get everything in writing - the size and location of the unit; options (such as climate-control) that you have selected; termination regulations; insurance coverage and payment terms.

- Access. What are the hours and related charges for accessing your unit? Is there adequate room for parking and is the distance from your car/truck to the rental unit acceptable? Remember to check with the BBB ( for a BBB profile on the facility before you make your final decision.