Are you tired of storing your seasonal wardrobe in unused suitcases and your holiday decorations in the trunk of your car? Does your house look like the next episode of “Hoarding: Buried Alive”? If so, you need to give some thought to renting self storage.
Self storage can be the solution to your lack of space. Most facilities are secure, well-maintained, and have sizes and prices to fit any budget. You’re probably thinking that choosing a self-storage facility is easy, and it is. Choosing the “right” self-storage facility, however, is a bit more complicated. Before you make any commitments, you need to ask some questions that will help you make an informed decision.
Questions to Ask Before You Rent Self Storage
Before you do anything, you should take a look at several storage facility websites. You can get helpful information from a well-designed website: locations, unit prices/sizes, amenities, and access hours, just to name a few. A high-quality, sophisticated website, packed full of valuable information, is the first indication that the property is a well-operated, professional facility. A comprehensive site should also have an FAQ page with answers to many of your questions.
After you look at the websites, visit some facilities and ask the following questions.
How Do You Keep Your Facility Secure?
Please keep in mind that even though most facilities have security features in place, no company should “guarantee” the safety of your belongings. Events randomly occur that are out of everyone’s control.
Storage facilities should be equipped with state-of-the-art features like 24-hour digital video monitoring, electronic gates with keypad access, on-site managers, and a maintenance staff to keep the facility clean and in good working order. The property should have perimeter fencing and bright lighting, and managers should be actively monitoring the system and doing regular walk throughs.
More advanced features may include individually alarmed “smart” units and wireless, cloud-based digital key management that allows tenant entry using only a smartphone. These are convenient high-tech additions to a property, but your items will remain secure without them.
What Are Access Hours?
Access hours vary by location but are typically from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. However, there are facilities that offer extended hours. During access hours you can use your gate code to access your storage unit. If you need access outside of standard hours, you can look for a facility that has 24-hour access or you can ask the management to make an accommodation.
How Do You Handle Pest Control?
Rodents and insects can cause permanent damage to your possessions. You should know how often the units are treated for pest control.
How Do I Contact Staff if I Need Assistance?
Staff is usually present during regular office hours, but there should be phone numbers and emails available for after-hours contact.
What Range of Unit Sizes Do You Have Available?
Think about what you need to store. Are you storing personal items, or do you need business storage? Do you need storage for a car, boat, or RV? Do you need extra high ceilings or extra wide doors? You can find most of this information on the facility’s website, but a team member should be happy to answer these questions.
Do You Offer Climate-Controlled Storage?
If you have belongings that are sensitive to temperature fluctuations or you live in an area that is subject to seasonal extremes in temperatures, you’ll want to protect these items in a climate-controlled unit.
Do You Have Restrictions on What I Can Store?
There should be a visible list at the facility and/or on the website.
Can I Tour the Property?
Make every effort to tour the facility before you make a decision. The tour should give you an idea of the level of customer service, an impression of the property, and a visual feel for the size of unit that you need.
Do I Need Insurance on My Belongings?
Typically, a reputable facility requires documented proof of insurance before a rental contract can be signed. Some storage facilities offer insurance through tenant insurance companies, but you should clarify your coverage with your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance agent. For more details read Self Storage Unit Insurance.
Do You Offer Online Account Management?
Online account management offering bill pay and autopay options is so much more convenient that having to write a check every month. Be sure to verify accepted credit and debit cards.
Trust Your Judgement
Most trustworthy properties will be happy to answer any questions that you may have prior to renting storage as well as giving you a tour of the property. They will also be happy to guide you through the website so that you can find answers to all of your questions at your convenience. If they aren’t accommodating or you feel uncomfortable, move on to another facility.
Take the extra time to find the right facility the first time. Once you’ve gone to the trouble of moving your items into storage, you’re not going to want to move them a second time.