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  1. #1
    Amy_ISS is offline Community Manager
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    Default Family Living in Unit

    CPS has taken the children after discovering a family of eight living in a self-storage unit in Houston. The mom says the storage owner knew about the situation, and they'd been living there for five years.

    Most operators have leases that forbid this. Is there ever a time to make an exception? How would you handle this? Have you discovered someone living in a unit at your facility?
    Amy Campbell
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    Inside Self-Storage
    acampbell@vpico.com

    @AmyCampbell_ISS

  2. #2
    MamaDuke's Avatar
    MamaDuke is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Family Living in Unit

    When I first started, I noticed right away that there was a woman entering just before the gate locked for the night and exiting just after the gate re-opened in the morning. Also, her unit door was open all night.

    I brought it to the attention of the manager, who acted like it was news to him and gave her 48 hours to vacate. He also notified the corporate office that HE noticed this action...it had been going on under his nose for a year and he was looking the other way until I came along!

    On the day that she moved out, I asked her where she would sleep on the nights she wasn't in the storage unit, and she said a porta-potty near her job.

    I felt really bad making her leave, but for the safety of her and the other customers, as well as the security of the property, and of course the LAW, she had to go. I really feel for anyone who feels that there is no other option for them. However, in our city, there is a huge "Tent City" open to anyone who can show a true affiliation to the city. It is an entire community for the homeless overseen by the city, which keeps it clean and safe for the homeless.
    MamaDuke

    The art of life is to know how to enjoy a little and to endure very much.

  3. #3
    67thave is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Family Living in Unit

    At our last facility, before we started working there, a family had so much stuff in there unit the door would not close, so their teenage son slept on a couch in front of the unit. One night a fire started and gutted the whole building, so our company is very careful regarding this issue. In training we were advised to watch for signs of tenants living in their units and so far have not had a problem

    67thave

  4. #4
    finallyfoundit is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Family Living in Unit

    I have read quite a bit on this story: the Husband was (is) the maintenance man at the older facility which is 100% boat storage only. He had totally retro-fitted, electrified to include internet access, a bathtub, kitchen, etc. (he is a trained Welder as well, got injured then laid-off of his job then got the position as the Maint. Man there), it is a 10,000 sqft. massive storage 'unit' w/Air-Conditioning put in as well. They are a good Christian family, they homeschool their 6 children (who are currently w/the grand-parents) and they also grow their own organic veggies in a large garden on the property. The part that they were in was totally fenced in, very secure in the otherwise crime-ridden neighorhood, the property also has a RV park w/a lot of green areas for the kids. They were happy, very well-taken care of and have loving, involved parents doing their best in their circumstances and they were not asking for hand-out's from anyone, the Owner was fully aware of his employee living there and fully supported them. A busy-body called on them. The will be getting their children back very soon. CPS forced this poor mother to wean the youngest right there on the spot! They refused to provide her w/a pump to supply the baby at least...CPS is only supposed to take children away if they are being abused or neglected, which was far from the situation. They actually had moved-out from a gov't sub. apt. complex a few yrs. back due to the crime and violence, this was a much better sit. for them as the Father saved up money to build a home on the land they own outside of Houston. Thankfully a Lawyer and others that have pull in the comm. are fighting for them, as well as 99% of the comm. is up in arms about this.

  5. #5
    That Girl's Avatar
    That Girl is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Family Living in Unit

    I remember reading years ago how a manager at storage facility let someone sleep in there unit. The manager would lock them in the unit at night so no one would know they were there sleeping. I guess one night a fire broke out needless to say the person sleeping in the unit didn't make it out alive.
    Have A Wonderful Day

  6. #6
    LLLVIS's Avatar
    LLLVIS is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Family Living in Unit

    There's the moral desire to help someone out, but then there's doing more harm than good with those 'best intentions.'

    Hard to say how much harm was actually done to anybody, but the situation puts all involved at some kind of risk.

    But FIVE YEARS under this set of circumstances? C'mon.

    I do know I've had one or two tenants stay at their unit overnight (one got trapped inside after hours) but no, haven't encountered anyone I thought might be living there.
    "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    http://larrylaunders.voice123.com/

  7. #7
    SISprague is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Family Living in Unit

    Quote Originally Posted by acampbell View Post
    CPS has taken the children after discovering a family of eight living in a self-storage unit in Houston. The mom says the storage owner knew about the situation, and they'd been living there for five years.

    Most operators have leases that forbid this. Is there ever a time to make an exception? How would you handle this? Have you discovered someone living in a unit at your facility?
    Most states, including Washington, have laws prohibiting using a storage unit for a residence. It's covered in the very first paragraph:

    (1) "Self-service storage facility" means any real property designed and used for the purpose of renting or leasing individual storage space to occupants who are to have access to the space for the purpose of storing and removing personal property on a self-service basis, but does not include a garage or other storage area in a private residence. No occupant may use a self-service storage facility for residential purposes.

    Our Rental Agreement also covers this. I recently discovered a tenant using his to sleep in. He had rented a 5x10 and was in and out a lot plus was hanging out at the office for several hours a day. He wanted to use our refrigerator as well as brought in a coffee maker, which my assistant let him plug in. I gave him the nickname "Coffee Boy." He wore out his welcome very quickly in addition to drawing attention to himself by his unusual behavior. I was already suspecting him of sleeping in his unit then while my assistant was talking to a potential customer, she mentioned that we had 24 hour access available under certain circumstances, to which our suspect piped up, "I could have 24 hour access? I've been having to jump the fence!" What an idiot! Then later the same day, another tenant came in and told my assistant that Coffee Boy had been sleeping in his unit. I was at another location that day so when I got off, I came by the property and checked it out. Coffee Boy had gone in his unit after leaving the latch in the open position then put his lock on so that at first glance, it looked like the unit was locked. He then had somehow secured it from the inside. After banging on the door for several minutes and threatening to call the cops, he finally came out. He denied sleeping in the unit as I stood there looking at his bed and hanging clothes, not to mention ice chest. empty fast food bags, etc. I told him to get everything he needed for the night then overlocked the unit. I told him I'd be giving him a 10-day notice plus locking his unit at night, giving him access only during office hours.

    The following Saturday, a lady came in the office and said she owned the house adjoining the property near where Coffee Boy's unit was. She said he'd been throwing his "piss can" out the door. That explained the stains on the driveway. He moved out without further incident.

    Yeah, I feel bad for homeless people but there are shelters, etc. available for them here. There's a reason it's illegal for a storage unit to be used for living in and this was a prime example for it. Having the food in the unit attracted mice and not having a bathroom available caused him to use alternative, unsanitary methods.

  8. #8
    Satyra From PhoneSmart is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Family Living in Unit

    I have never personally encountered anyone living in a storage unit. However I have heard stories. To answer the original question, the main issue about making an exception is safety. Anything can happen fire, robbery ect. It's sad when circumstances get to that point but to avoid a even worse tragedy, I'd say no. It may help though if you kept a list of local shelters on hand to refer people.

    SAD, SAD, SAD... My heart goes out to those with no other choice.

 

 
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