There are many ways your storage business can help people around you. Supporting non-profits and charities is not only an act of kindness but it’s also beneficial for your business. You are under no obligation to rent storage units to non-profits. But, if there is a cause that is close to your heart, consider helping an organization in need. Some storage owners offer discounts to non-profits, while others allow them to use their units rent-free. Some even donate their units. That is up to you. Nevertheless, if you start renting storage units to non-profits, remember that you are the owner and they are your tenants, hence they must follow the rules like any other tenant.
Why non-profits need storage units
Non-profit organizations are always looking for ways to minimize their expenses. Since rent costs can be a huge drain of money, non-profits can save a lot by finding an affordable solution to their spatial demands.
"Due to high land and office rental prices, non-profit organizations often rent storage space for storing a wide variety of items, such as paperwork, stock, equipment, and seasonal items, at a more affordable rate."
This way, they can de-clutter their active rental space and operate more easily. Plus, their goods are likely to be safer in a storage unit than in an office. Furthermore, they sometimes need a temporary storage solution when moving from one location to another. They need to find a trustworthy company before relocating and to store their items.
What rules to enforce when renting storage units to non-profits?
The rules you enforce as a storage facility owner are a combination or personal choice and legal requirements. Some rules must be listed on the lease your tenants sign, while others can be a verbal agreement. When it comes to rules, renting storage units to non-profits is no different from renting to any other organization or individual.
"The owner has the right to enforce rules that must be followed by all tenants without exception."
These are the most important ones:
- No living inside storage units
- No smoking inside storage units
- Rent must be paid on time
- Authorized access only
- The facility’s dumpster is off-limits
No one is allowed to live in storage units
If you are an experienced storage facility owner, you have probably dealt with tenants trying to live in your storage units. Everyone knows this rule; however, things are not always that simple. Sometimes, storage facility managers feel sympathy for tenants, even entire families, who need a place to spend the night. You too may be tempted to let someone stay overnight, especially if you rent to a non-profit that helps the poor and the homeless. As noble as it may seem, letting people live in your units can be dangerous not only for your business but also for them.letting people live in your units can be dangerous not only for your business but also for them.
Smoking inside storage units is strictly prohibited
Whether you want to prohibit smoking on the entire property is your choice, but smoking inside buildings and storage units is never allowed. Some owners ban smoking property-wide, even if all of the units are outdoors. Fire damage is one of the biggest concerns for storage businesses and a single cigarette can cause a tragedy. If you allow your staff to smoke, they should do it at a safe distance from the units in order to avoid accidents.
Tenants must pay rent on time
Late payments are another common problem storage owners have to deal with sooner or later. Non-profits often have trouble with funding; hence, being late with rent should not come as a surprise. Yes, they are doing the right thing by helping others, but that doesn’t mean you should make an exception. One exception leads to more exceptions that can put you in serious financial problems. What you can do is allow non-profits to make partial payments or offer storage discounts.
Unauthorized access is not allowed
While some storage companies limit the number of individuals with access to a storage unit, others allow having multiple names on the lease. You can also allow one person on the lease and they can fill out a form that allows access to other people. Generally, you should not allow multiple names unless it is absolutely necessary. The most important thing is to prevent unauthorized access. As mentioned earlier, non-profits sometimes store paperwork that can be highly confidential. You should carefully and politely verify their information before allowing people into someone else’s storage unit.
Tenants cannot use the storage facility’s dumpster
Allowing your tenants to use the storage facility’s dumpster would not only create an unpleasant sight but it would also help the spreading of pests, thus harming your business in many ways. Lock up your dumpster if you need to, but don’t let renters use it whenever they want. Instead of letting a non-profit use your dumpster, you can connect them with charities that will take their unwanted items or enable recycling (once a month, for example).
Donating self storage units to non-profits
If you decide to donate self storage units, you should take several steps to find out whether your donation is tax-deductible. Non-profits that have a charitable purpose have a 501(c)(3) status. Non-profits with this status can be exempt from income tax, which means donations are tax-deductible. By visiting the IRS Exempt Organization Select Check page, you can find out whether a non-profit organization is on the exempt organization list or not. Not all types of donations are deductible.
"Your donation will be deductible only if you give up your right to own and use the storage space. On the other hand, if you allow a non-profit to store goods in your units but you want to remain the owner, the donation isn’t deductible."
Finally, don’t forget to request a written acknowledgement of your donation from the non-profit organization. This document should include the date and description of the donation, the estimated fair market value, as well as whether the non-profit gave you anything in exchange for the donation. Have this document ready by the time your tax return is due.