Every storage owner's worst nightmare is finding out that his or her self storage has been abandoned. And, you do not know what is worst - having self storage that is unpaid for or having self storage that is still full of somebody's stuff. When this situation lasts for months, it can turn into a big problem. You have to be careful, as you are either dealing with a delinquent or somebody who had deliberately abandoned their storage unit.In both circumstances, your absolute goal is to free up that storage space. After all, that is your business and you have to make sure that the money keeps flowing. However, dealing with abandoned storage units is not as easy as it seems. But, there is a way. So, if you are a storage owner, and your storage gets abandoned, here is how to handle the situation.
Do Not Make Any Rash Decisions
As previously mentioned, you as a self storage owner must keep the money flowing. Of course, you cannot make any money if your tenants haven’t paid rent, but are still occupying a unit. However, if you make a rash decision and declare that a certain self storage unit has been abandoned, you might get into trouble. You have to be patient. If you see an open door, maybe the unit was not abandoned, but the renter simply forgot to lock the door by mistake. And if the rent has not been paid for a month, maybe the renters went on a trip. In all of these situations, the best thing would be to wait for a while until making any decisions. Do not assume anything. If you want to proclaim that self storage has been abandoned, make sure that you know all the facts. Otherwise, you might end up with a lawsuit.
Try Contacting the Tenant
If you are sure that your storage unit has been abandoned, do not take the items to auction or to a dumpster just yet. First, you must do everything in your power to contact the tenants. This will be a hard job as those tenants have probably changed phone numbers and emails. But, maybe you get lucky and actually manage to get in touch with the tenants. If you do, congratulations. Ask them what the problem is. If they are unwilling to pay the rent, suggest that they call Verrazano Moving and Storage Staten Island to help them relocate their stuff to their home or to some other storage unit. If, however, they acknowledge that they have abandoned the storage, give them an abandonment form.
Every storage owner must be familiar with the abandonment form. That is an official legal document that states that the renter has abandoned his or her storage unit. Also, this form states that the renter is giving up on their belongings inside the storage unit. This document must be signed before you decide to do anything with that particular storage unit, otherwise, you might end up in court. Moreover, having a copy of this signed form is your insurance for later on and it releases you from any lawsuits.
Know Your Rights
Owning a self storage facility comes with many obligations. One of them is being familiar with legal matters. That is, you must know your rights if you do not want your business to suffer. So, even before something like this happens, have a talk with a lawyer that specializes in this kind of legal matters. He or she will give you very useful advice and provide you with the most important documents. And, if your storage unit does get abandoned, you will know exactly what to do. Just make sure that you have a reliable lawyer and that you always have the following documents:
- A signed contract with your tenant
- Proof that you have been trying to contact the tenant;
- Abandonment form;
- Photographs of everything that was inside the abandoned storage units.
With these forms in your hand, you will have nothing to worry about. Just make sure that you know your rights especially if you are a rookie who is just getting started. This is important for running any kind of business.
Auction or Dumpster?
It is never a good idea to throw away all the things inside the abandoned storage units. Tempting as it sounds, it is not good for many reason. Firstly, that might damage your reputation and you might lose some customers. Secondly, it does not look good legally.
Always choose to have an auction. Yes, it is more work. But, it can help you compensate for your loss. By selling the items that were inside the storage unit, you can collect money that you lost from the unpaid rents. But, not only that. These kinds of auctions exist to help you legally. So, if eventually, a tenant shows up and tries taking you to court, you will be able to show that you did everything in your power and according to law, and all accusations of theft or improper handling will be lost. This is the best way of dealing with bad tenants.
As previously mentioned, just make sure that you have all the documents and pieces of evidence showing that you tried to contact the tenant who has not been paying rent for months.
"If having an auction seems like a waste of your time, just think about how much time and money you will waste by going to court and paying for a lawyer"
What to Do With Commercial Tenants?
Commercial tenants can be tricky as they often store third-party documents. Those can be medical records, legal documents, or some business-related documents. So, if they were forgotten in your self storage unit, you’d probably think that they should hit the dumpster as nobody needs them anymore. However, those may be some really important and unseen documents, and throwing them away can get you into trouble. So, if you were unable to reach the tenant, the best thing you can do is to get these documents shredded.
"Never auction storage or throw away documents that are inside your storage unit!"