Summer is the season for yard sales, but some have limited space for valuables they want to keep. The solution for many is to rent a self-storage unit.
Just like in any business, not all self-storage facilities are equal. The BBB has received complaints regarding rental dispute, theft and property damage. So before you sign a contract for a self-storage unit, consider the following:
• Research the facility online and at the BBB website, www.bbb.org, to see if complaints have been filed or thefts reported.
• Tour the facility in person. Check out security systems. Look for signs of disrepair or lack of cleanliness, which can indicate a bigger problem like infestation or weather.
• Obtain a cost estimate for deposit, monthly rental, storage preparation, electricity, pest control and any other fees. Ask about additional fees not listed in the estimate.
• Consider the general climate and whether mold or water damage could occur.
• Most storage facilities offer basic insurance. You can research insurance from a different provider for theft, fire or other damage.
• Check that security cameras are operational and ask how they are monitored. Ask if access is restricted by a security system.
• Before you sign a contract, read the terms. Make sure everything is in writing, including size and location of the unit, any insurance coverage, the payment schedule and any cancellation policies.
• In case a problem with the unit or payment ever occurs, make sure the facility has several ways to contact you. Also, make sure you have all contact information for the storage facility.
• After choosing your storage unit, organize your goods to make storage as painless as possible. Consider making a photo record of all contents and keeping a written record. Both of these activities will be important if theft or damage does occur to the unit and you need to file an insurance claim.
• After you’ve stored your goods, regularly inspect the unit, and be sure to report any concerns to the facility’s management in writing.
For more tips, contact the BBB at www.bbb.org or by calling (509) 455-4200.
By Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor