Before you decide to store your stuff in a self-storage facility, check the local laws regarding management of those facilities. In Illinois, for example, a tenant must be more than 60 days behind on the rent before a self-storage facility can begin the proceedings to take your stuff. However, unlike an eviction, there is no court date set to argue against losing your things. A certified letter to your last known address and publication in a local newspaper is all the owner needs to do before auctioning or otherwise selling your stored goods. Know your rights before you store.
Insuring Your Stuff
In most states, self-storage facilities are not required to provide insurance for your goods stored there. Just like when you rent a house, if you want the stuff in your self-storage unit to be protect, you need your own insurance. Often, home owners insurance or renter’s insurance for your house will cover items stored off-site, but it’s a good idea to ask before it becomes a problem. Otherwise, a good option is to check for insurance through an insurance provider.
Read the Lease
As with any lease, the details of your self-storage lease are important. Read the lease to find out when your payment is due, what the late fees are and any other fees that you might be subject to. Some self-storage facilities charge a deposit when you first move in while others charge a nonrefundable administration fee. Most rent from the first of the month to the first of the month and prorate the portion of month when you first move in. The lease should spell out specifically when the rent is due and what happens if it is late. Pay Attention to the Late Fees Either posted in the rental office or in the lease, and usually both, you will find information regarding the late fees. Typically, self-storage fees charge rental fees that may even exceed the monthly rental cost. It is not usual to see late fees of $1 or more per day. Find out if there is a grace period. In addition, it’s important to know that like all creditors, self-storage facilities apply your payment to the oldest amount due, not the current month. So, if you owe $40 from last month and $40 from this month, paying only $40 will likely not keep you from accruing late fees.
Know the process
In Illinois, once a person is a minimum of 60 days late and has received two late notices, the owner of a self-storage facility can begin taking your stuff. The process starts with a certified letter to your last known address. The owner does not have to prove that you got the letter, only that it was sent to the address on file. Two weeks after the letter is sent, the owner must publish a legal notice in the local newspaper indicating that the unit is to be sold or disposed of and giving a final date for payment. The notice must run in two consecutive weeks in the paper and the sale date must be at least seven days after the second publication. Once the process is complete, the owner can dispose of your stuff at his discretion.
Pay The Bill
Most of the time, the goods in your self-storage unit are not going to bring as much at auction as you owe for the storage, so it is in the owner’s best interest to make payment arrangements with you. A self-storage facility owner is not going to want to take a continuous loss on your property, but making a good-faith effort to get caught up when you get behind will probably keep your stuff safe and everyone happy.