Self-Storage Units: How to Store Your Belongings Wisely

BBB Consumer Alerts
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Let’s face it. We accumulate a lot of “stuff” over the years and often run out of room in our apartments or homes. To decompress our living spaces we turn to self-storage units – readily available in most communities.

Annually, the self-storage industry rakes in over $22 billion in revenue, with an 87.4% occupancy rate across the 58,000 units available in the U.S. alone. Each year the BBB receives complaints about storage fees and contracts, so before renting storage space, it’s important to know what you getting into with a self-storage facility. Consider the following.

  1. Obtain a written estimate. Costs to consider may include a deposit, monthly rental fee, storage preparation and fees for extra options such as electricity, pest control and insurance. Ask about the fees, how they are to be paid and by what date.
  2. Ask what storage units and sizes are available based on your needs. Ask if there is a maximum weight limit for unit contents and if you are able to pack your belongings in the entire unit from floor to ceiling.
  3. Keep in mind the general climate and whether your belongings might be subject to mold and/or water damage. If so, you may want to consider an environmentally-controlled unit.
  4. Contact your insurance company and discuss your specific needs with them. Make sure your items are insured from theft, fire or other damage. Determine if your homeowner’s insurance will cover the household items you have stored in the unit (it may or may not). The storage facility may provide basic insurance or you can choose to purchase insurance from an alternate source.
  5. Ask if the facility has surveillance cameras on the property and if a system is in place to restrict access.
  6. Ask if there arehour restrictions that determine when you can access your unit. If so, make sure it works with your move schedule. Also, get as much contact information as you can to reach someone at the facility in case of an emergency, both during and after business hours.
  7. Get everything in writing, including; the size and location of the unit, whether the unit is climate controlled, term regulations, insurance coverage and the payment schedule. Make sure the facility has provided you with several different ways to get in touch with you, either by home phone or cell phone in case there is ever a problem with your unit or your payment.

Source: BBB North Alabama,, and

For more statistics, go to Self Storage Industry Statistics., by

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to

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