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Expensive disposal of items - how to prevent and handle?

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  • Expensive disposal of items - how to prevent and handle?

    I'm getting start in self storage next month with the purchase of my first facility. One question that has been on my mind: how often have you found someone storing a lot of items that are expensive to dispose of and what do you do about it? Let's take an example: a person storing barrels of volatile chemicals or 500 old, bald tires. How do you "find" these things and how do you manage to get rid of them if someone just decides to rent your unit for a month to use it for a cheap "dump"? My lease will prohibit storage of those items of course, but I have been a residential land lord for 15 years and know that some tenants don't care about leases. They will do what they want regardless of any lease.
    With residential rentals, I retain the right to inspect properties, and I do so on a regular schedule (2 weeks after move in, then 1 month later, then if all is well once every 4 months). Do you do any inspections of units? Also, I have a much larger deposit on residential units ($600-$1000) vs. storage ($25 maybe), so that combined with my regular visits minimizes the risk of getting a hoarder or dumper and helps pay for disposal of their junk. Looking for ideas to do the same in the storage business. Thanks in advance for your wisdom!

  • #2
    Welcome... and welcome to the industry. Great questions. Been doing this for 7 years and only had one unidentifiable substance in a unit. My wife called Homeland Security and they came out to see what was in the barrel. They also interviewed the tenant. It wound up being a barrel of used fryer oil from his restaurant. He came in and started yelling about us almost getting him in trouble yadda yadda.

    He made a big mistake telling me it was from his restaurant. I explained that he had to catch up his rent and remove the barrel. He asked what I was going to do if he did not. I said two things: First, I would send his file to a collection agency and that would effect his business and personal credit. Secondly I would have to pay a specialist in hazardous material removal to take it away and he would be billed for that. He actually paid and cleaned out the unit. I also learned new curse words in Persian.

    Most of the units with stuff left in you will simply dispose of based on local regulations. You can bill them the clean up fee and send to collections. You will probably never get any satisfaction. As far as inspecting units you cannot go into their unit other what your state regulations allow.

    As a new person to the industry let me share my philosophy. Know the lease, be the lease, live the lease.

    Hope that helps.


    • #3
      I have had some of those things happen to me before. Specifically the tire one. I had a tenant rent a unit put 200 tires in it, then he never even locked the unit either. You guessed it he never paid again. I got lucky though I had 2 different people bidding on the unit at auction it sold for less than $20, but at least I didn't have to deal with them. Here it would cost me $3 for a car tire and $4 for SUV or Truck tires to dispose of them.

      In the end it is not possible to be watching everyone at every time. Things will happen. You are spot on in barring these items in your rental agreement. I make my tenants initial next to the section with banned items. Storing of banned items is grounds for immediate termination of the rental agreement. Which that part is important it allows you to deal with the problem promptly vs giving him a 30 day notice.


      • #4
        Along with having the words in your lease about what they cannot store, there should also be something about what MAY happen if they do. I am a stickler about asking what is going to be stored. Most facilities do not get into great detail about that but I do. If they plan on storing something they know they shouldn't, they will likely dodge my questions and that is a RED FLAG for me. I also pay them a visit, or 2 or 3 or 4, during the move in process. I warn them at move in that I am nosey and if that is problem then my facility is likely not the right place for them. I pay attention to what type of vehicle is moving items in. Lift gates on the back can be a big clue. How many people help with the move in can be a clue as well. Lots of helpers mean they want to either be just super helpful or they want to unload in to the unit in a VERY QUICK manner. I also tour the facility all the time and look in the open units as I pass.

        Being new, you will need to fast track your "spidey senses" feelings real quick. Security cameras help as well.
        "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"


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