What to Consider when Considering Renting a Storage Unit

Our apartments here at Poplar Ridge offer extra storage in our floored and lighted attics.   Still, it is common for people living in an apartment to need extra storage space, perhaps just to park furniture you’re not using right now, but would like to keep for the future.  A lot of people are becoming more aware of storage units since the TV show “Storage Wars” started last year.  The show shows us what happens when storage units are abandoned, but what should we know before going out and renting a storage unit?

Here are a few things to consider before jumping in.


Cost. Ask for written estimates from at least three facilities. Most will insist on inspecting your items before offering an estimate; if a facility gives a phone estimate, look elsewhere. Consider the monthly rental fee (usually there are a minimum monthly storage charges and a minimum number of month’s storage); and any other costs for storage preparation, padding, packing or transportation fees; and fees for extra options (electricity, pest control, insurance) you may choose. Ask how fees are to be paid and when.

Size. Most places offer a large variety of sizes but check to see if there Is there a maximum weight limit for unit contents? And if you can you jam pack the entire unit from floor to ceiling?

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.

Climate.  . Consider the general climate (we are in Fort Wayne, Indiana, after all) and whether your belongings might be subjected to mold or water damage. If so, you may want to consider an environmentally-controlled unit.  If you rent a climate controlled unit, check to make sure heating, cooling, and dehumidifier units are all working properly.

Access. What are the hours (some are 24 hours, others more restricted) 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?

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. Check with your agent.

Safety. You will need a heavy-duty, secure lock protecting your storage unit. . Find an all-weather pad lock that has a short arm to make it difficult for someone to use a bolt cutter on it. 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.

Keep your items off the floor. It might sound silly, but before renting your unit, there’s no way to promise that the melting snow won’t come under the door, or the adjacent unit won’t have a spill so keep all of your items up off the floor.  Find some old clean wooden pallets to put on the floor.

Wrap What You Can :  in industrial plastic wrap. That way, you’ll know things are sealed and won’t collect dust or insects.   Places like Uline sell just what you need.

Label Everything: Even though you know exactly what you’re putting in your storage unit at the time you open it, you probably won’t remember in 6 months when you return to find it. Label everything. The hidden, the obvious, and you can even go as far as to make a checklist that hangs inside the door telling you where things are within the unit.

Plan for temperature: This is Indiana, so it will be very hot and it will be very cold, and there are a few things that don’t like the cold or the heat and should either be double wrapped or well insulated or not stored at all, especially electronics, vinyl records, and old photos.

Take  Good  Care of The Space: While we’re concerned about protecting what you put in the unit, protecting the unit itself is also important — there can be heavy fines for damaging the unit during your tenancy. Take care of your unit and avoid fines when you move out.  Note and take photos of any damage to the unit when you move in.

Finally, don’t forget to pay your rent, or you might see all of your things auctioned off one night on TV.



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