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Payments for Units Made by Non-tenants

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  • Payments for Units Made by Non-tenants

    I have a new tenant. She came in at the end of November. She says she told me that no one was supposed to know she had a unit here, but I didn't have a note on her account. This is not like me...if someone gives me information like that I make a note so everyone can see it when the account is opened. We also have a policy not to give out information. So if I get a call from the police I tell them to come see me and I'll share information with them, they just can't take it from the facility until I have a warrant. If someone calls and wants personal information or a gate code, then our policy is not to give it out until you see an ID and it matches the tenant information. However, it is pretty common for someone to call and make a payment that is not the holder of the account. Spouses will call, when someone is sick, or passed, or out of town, or many other reasons we get calls from people wanting to make payments for someone else. I'll let them make the payment, but I don't give them a receipt (I send it to the tenant's email or mail it). The only information they get is the amount due.

    So I'm sure you're sort of guessing my issue. Between Christmas and New Year's my boss has us only come in for appointments. We come in once a day, check emails, check voicemails, put in payments, return calls...that sort of thing. On December 27th I had a voicemail from a man that had the same last name as the tenant. He called and said she was sick and knew her rent was due soon and wanted to make the payment and asked me to call him back. I called the number he left and said I got his voicemail. He asked if I was in the office and if he could come by and make the payment. I said sure. He said something about how he'd just passed by there and he could come back and be there in 10 minutes. He comes in, he's friendly, he makes the payment, doesn't ask any questions or even ask for a receipt, and pays with a credit card. NONE of my bells went off. ZERO!!!

    A few days ago the tenant comes into the facility and SHE IS PISSED!!! She wants to know how her unit got paid. She's angry as hell. She's not mean to me or unreasonable, she's just pissed. I can tell she's just found out the unit got paid for and she's UPSET. At this point I'm trying to find out the circumstances because I'm not connecting her with the payment. But in the process of looking up her accounts and looking through my notes and talking to her I tell her that it's not uncommon for someone to call or come in and make a payment on a unit. She says that's all she needs to know and leaves. It wasn't until after she left I found my notes and looked through video and made all the connections. I can completely see why she would be upset if she was trying to leave her husband quietly and what I did confirmed she was here. But then I think about how he presented himself to me. He never asked any questions, he called me as if he knew it for a fact, he just asked what the total was, handed me his card, made the payment, thanked me for my time...nothing weird at all.

    Now I'm questioning our policy for taking payments from non-tenants and taking payments over the phone. What are your policies for non-tenant payments and payments over the phone? What are your thoughts on this situation?

    As always, thank you for letting me pick your brains.

    "Don't feed the locals."

  • #2
    If anyone calls me or comes in and states that they want to pay for XYZ unit or Any Name unit, I process for payment!

    Let's look at this scenario.
    IF lady tenant HAD asked/told you to not let anyone know she had a unit, you would have entered that in her notes.
    Then a month goes by and you get this call from a man, who states "I want to pay for XYZ unit.
    How do you think you would have handled this?
    By mentioning her name, that would have set off the alarm
    BUT my question is...what would you have said to the man?
    1. Sorry, Sir, I do not have any such named tenant.
    Please go back and double check your records?

    Recently, I had this same scenario.
    Woman rented and unit was put in her Mothers name.
    Woman's husband was abusive and she was squirreling things away to make her great escape.
    Her account was notated and I personally spoke to my part timer so that she would be aware that this was a a special matter nad to pay special attention so that husband would not find out she had a unit, at least from us anyway!

    You sound like you have a decent memory and you keep/kept copious amounts of notes.
    So it does seem to me that your lady tenant forgot to mention to you that she wanted to ensure her privacy

    At his point, all you can do is apologize and gently explain that you really were not aware of her situation and that you do not recall her telling you that!
    Don't put off until tomorrow, what you can do today.


    • #3
      First of all, you did not give out the fact she was renting there. He already knew. You didn't break any type of privacy laws. Second of all, you are a business. Your company takes money for rent that is due. While it appears complex, her life situation is not your business or your problem (not trying to be harsh here). Relax. Exhale. All is well.
      Chuck G.
      Content Developer & Social Media Manager
      Online Storage Auction Services


      • #4
        What if it's a scenario where he suspects she has a storage unit somewhere and is calling other facilities saying "I want to pay Jane Doe's rent" and they say "sorry, we don't have a tenant here by that name"?? Eventually he's going to get the right one. You didn't tell him anything he didn't already know, or figured out out on his own.
        Too many freaks, not enough circuses.


        • #5
          Agreed... Not your fault


          • #6
            I really didn't think there was much else I could have done. If he played me, he did a good job. She hasn't moved out or been back to the facility. And you're right Lady, if she told me, I'm just sure I would have put it in her file (it's definitely there now). I'm just going to wait her out and see what happens. I did the best I could apologizing to her on Friday for her being so upset. (You know...the I'm sorry without taking responsibility thing?) Let's just see what happens.

            I'm very curious now what everyone else's policy is on phone payments and taking payments for units.
            "Don't feed the locals."


            • #7
              We put into policy last January, no payments over the phone and we added it to our rental agreement. Our customers can set up auto-debit, auto ACH, pay online or come into store.

              We are totally willing to take a payment from a non-tenant though, as long as it is in person, with ID and they sign the receipt for our records.

              You did all you could do. I hate that it has you stressed out. But like everyone else has said, this is truly not your issue, it is theirs.
              Stephanie Tharpe
              Senior VP of Operations
              A+ Storage of Tennessee, LLC
              Nashville, TN

              TNSSA Board of Directors


              • #8
                Customers will try to involve us in their drama all the time. You and I are not the police. The best we can do is to not give out truly private information. You did the right thing. I have had to implement strong policies about this sort of thing. I won't pass messages between family members or friends, call when a customer is here to serve a restraining order, tell anyone to grow up for someone else, etc etc etc. I also won't guarantee no mail ever goes to the address on file. If you don't want it going there, don't put it down.

                You did well. Just breathe easy.


                • #9
                  Either the guy is a great detective or she left some clues laying around or talked about it to someone she should not have. If she is bugging out and trying to stash some things before the final push then he may be of a mind to stop her and he just verified where she is. At this point the attorney's should take over and I bet he never makes another payment for her. This story could get better and better but also may pull you in to their drama. Stay as clear of their troubles as you can. Good luck to you either way.
                  "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"


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