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Units broken into, renter wants a refund

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  • Units broken into, renter wants a refund

    Piggybacking on my previous post about a recent break-in at one of our facilities, we now have an issue with a renter.

    The day we found out about the break-in, we notified all the affected renters. Everyone was pleasant to deal with except one renter. He was livid. He ended up losing $5000 worth of fishing equipment, according to him. We apologized profusely, got him in touch with the local sheriff, and we are working with a local security company to increase the volume and quality of our security.

    Today we received an email from him and his wife, complaining some more. Because of their deductible and depreciation, their insurance won't cover the cost of what they lost, so instead they want their rental money back. (They prepaid for 6 months and have used 3 or 4 of the months.)

    They created a Facebook post about the break-in. According to the email they sent us, they want to be able to tell people we "worked with them" instead of "do not rent from them - they did absolutely nothing." He stated that his post has been shared 325 times, but "we did not mention your storage unit by name, but we are seriously considering adding that information."

    We'd be happy to let him break his lease early and refund him for the months he hasn't used. However, our lease states that the lessees release us from any and all liability or loss or damage due to theft (among other things). It also states that their possessions within the rented units are placed at their risk and we shall have no liability for any loss or damage caused.

    If we cave to one person, we may have to cave to others should they crop up. But it's almost like a weird form of mini-extortion - give us all our money back, or we'll drag your name through the mud. He has a loud mouth and it could do damage.

    What would you do?

  • #2
    Sounds like a real gem. I would refund the unused rent only, along with a copy of that section of the lease highlighted for them, just in case they think they can extort you for more money to cover what the insurance doesn't. This type of people are never going to be happy, so you might as well draw a line in the sand with them now. Sort of reminds me of a news story I read earlier today:
    You Laugh, I laugh. You cry, I cry. You take my coffee...may God have mercy on your soul....


    • #3
      Keep copies of the correspondence.
      I would reply using there statements, using our company name saying there is no need for an attempt at extortion, we are sorry that there are humans that feel they have rights to other people's property and as soon as we have more information, we will notify the police immediately.


      • #4
        Their insurance issues are not your problem and you have no way of knowing if they are telling the truth about the worth of the items that were stolen. (Seriously, if I had anything worth $5000, it would NOT be in a storage unit, anywhere). I would refund them the unused months, provided they've vacated the unit, and include a copy of their SIGNED lease stating they were aware they were renting at their own risk, and the facility is not liable for the theft that happened. It's one thing to work with a tenant to resolve an issue, quite another to have a tenant try to extort money out of you in exchange for a nice Facebook post. Keep everything documented, including the Facebook posts. Screenshot and print them in case they get deleted later. If he decides he wants to pursue this further, you have his signed lease, and written documentation of him stating "pay up or else".
        Too many freaks, not enough circuses.


        • #5
          What everyone else has said. Not your fault. This is a "shake down". That lawyer Avennati just got arrested for the same thing. I would show this all to the sheriff.

          Don't entitled people make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside!
          "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"


          • #6
            Hmm, well if their Facebook post has been shared that many times then it's a public post which means your company's representative (higher up the food chain if you're a manager) can respond. If I were them I would post the pertinent parts of the lease the tenant signed. A sample only, nothing showing their name, address etc. And let them know as soon as the unit is vacated you'll be more than happy to refund them any UNUSED, PREPAID Rent and yes, I'd prorate it by day.

            Plus there could be a followup on their post where your company is stating the date their refund check was mailed to them or picked up in person. Because, like DairyGirl said, their insurance, deductible etc. is not your problem. They took the risk and stored it with you. So unless it's a super sketchy property and you're a major slacker, it's their bad, not yours. We all do our best, but even professional law enforcement can't stop break-ins from occurring. It happens.
            Gina 6k
            VM: Four-Oh-Eight- Seven-Eight-Oh-Eight-Oh-Seven-Nine

            You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough!
            I am not an attorney, just an experienced manager who is willing to share what I have learned. Your thoughts, practices or opinions may vary and neither of us may be right.


            • #7
              We have a clause in our lease that states they cannot store property that has an aggregate value of more than $5,000 or that may cause "emotional distress or consequential damages if it were missing, stolen, or damaged." And also that they must purchase fire, theft and casualty insurance on their property if its value exceeds $1,000.

              I'm sorry you're having to deal with such a jerk, but on the bright side at least he didn't tell you he was storing the real Mona Lisa and that's what was stolen.


              • #8
                Hey sorry about your situation!

                Remember, all you can do is your best. A self-storage facility is someone that leases out the space and not the security. While that may sound silly, really think about how you personally did the best you could for the circumstances. Take that pressure off yourself as I know it can be personally stressful.
                The lease wording is very common in self storage.
                My best advice would be to see what the tenant would want to do. Do they want to continue to store there or move out? If they plan on moving out, I would definitely refund the prepaid rent that they did not use. After that, I would explain to them that you guys are doing everything you can to ensure those responsible for the break-in are held responsible. While they are trying to shift blame to you, remind them that someone is responsible for the break-in. Even the biggest self-storage companies are broken into. I would also inform them that you unfortunately can't assist with the monetary issue since the company did not take part in the crime. Some people may assume that by working with them, you are accepting responsibility. The only time a tenant has the ability to sue is if it was reckless conduct or gross negligence. That would mean that you knew of the issue and did not do what a reasonable person would do under the circumstances.
                I would focus a lot with working with the police. I would also try to find the post and ensure that you have the ability to respond to all. You obviously do not want to get into an argument or battle with tenants but just show what steps you are taking to work the police, the investigation and things that tenants can do to ensure they are minimizing risks.
                If you need anything further, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.


                • #9
                  "Even the biggest self-storage companies are broken into."

                  Not here, in 23 years. Especially in the last 5.5 years the security is tighter and tighter. I don't just live here and work in an office. This whole facility is my home and so far, due diligence has remained at the fore front. Each facility can be different, starting with the manager and the steps for the facility security. Lack of proper insurance planning on the tenant's part does not constitute the facility/owner/manager taking fault in this instance, especially if there is already reasonable and efficient security set up there.
                  "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"


                  • #10
                    "Dear Sir/Ma'am, thank you for your note.
                    We are aware that the break in and theft happened and are working with police. In addition we're looking at ways to prevent this issue in the future for all tenants. WE can never promise that it won't happen, only that we do our best to provide secure storage.
                    As it's stated in paragraph 3 of the contract that you signed with us, Occupant (you) must provide your own insurance, Occupant (you) assumes all risks of loss to stored property in addition, owner is not obligated to provide insurance per state law. (insert whatever you think sounds good from your contract)
                    In the spirit of customer service, we agree to refund the prepaid rent once the item is cleaned out and lock has been removed. A check for the unused rent will be sent to the address that you provide to us.
                    Thank you-XXX storage."
                    90% of what you're stressing about now won't even be relevant in a year. Breathe easy. ~Wesley Snipes

                    WA State


                    • #11
                      Some great advice on this conversation! We haven't had to deal with this yet, but I will remember this conversation if we ever do!


                      • #12
                        Since your Rental Agreement clearly states the conditions regarding insurance and they signed it , thatís on them , not you . If they have sent an email and are threatening to add your business name to their 325 shared Facebook post I would be very tempted to respond to them and advise them that they signed a legal document and the fact that they are trying to ď hurt ď your business you may need to seek legal counsel . Iím sorry , I am tired of People thinking that we should give in to their every demand or they will trash us on social media is just wrong ! They have an obligation to be telling people what they signed or they are participating in defamation of your business . Someone left a bad review on google maps for me and I was livid but donít know who it is . Time for businesses to stand against this !


                        • #13
                          Again, have said before, I don't care what is posted at social media. It's like Fake News and one sided blustering by people and if someone believes them without seeing the facility and talking to me, no problem, stay away.

                          Social media is full of wanna be's and narcissists and really just plain idiots. Before someone jumps me, I know there are legitimate people there too but I gave up caring about the self promoting social media a long time ago.
                          Last edited by pacnwstorage; 3rd April 2019, 07:33 PM.
                          "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"


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