What A Tenant Should Understand About A Self Storage Contract

November 12, 2021 Self Storage / Self Storage 101

Contracts are not light reading. They are written in a complicated manner and full of jargon that is difficult for anyone but a legal expert to understand. Before you sign a contract, it’s a good idea to read it and try to make sense of the terms and conditions of the agreement. If you want to navigate your agreement like a pro, read below for some tips on how to understand the terms of your self storage contract.

After a hard day, you’re finally settled into a comfy chair by the fire with a glass of wine, looking forward to reading a contract – said no one ever!! Legal jargon, financial details, and confusing language can make a contract seem daunting and not the best option for fireside reading.

If you’re not a lawyer or in some way connected to the legal profession, you’d probably rather run the other way than spend your time trying to interpret the complex legalese that is part of most contracts. Even if it’s for your benefit, it’s just plain boring. 

However, if you’re getting ready to lease a self storage unit, it’s a good idea to understand what you’re signing. You don’t have to be concerned about this at My Storage Plus. A knowledgeable staff member will be happy to work with you to simplify what can be an intimidating process. We make sure that you understand the paperwork before you sign on the dotted line.

Every contract is different and terms may vary. Following are the key points and a few legal definitions that will help you navigate your contract like a pro.

Key Areas of Your Self Storage Contract

Financial Details

Financial details should be clearly outlined.

  • When the monthly rent is due and forms of payment accepted
  • Required deposit
  • When is the payment considered late
  • Fees for late payments, lock cuts, auctions to recover money owed, and any other potential fees
  • Actions taken if the tenant discontinues making payments

Use of the Unit

Rules and penalties regarding the use of the unit should be clearly explained.

  • A list of items that are prohibited in storage units
  • The maximum value of items stored in the unit
  • Most facilities will require you to keep your unit clean and in good condition
  • If you store a vehicle, you may have to use a drip pan to keep fluids from staining the floor


There will be certain situations noted where the tenant is required to provide notice to the landlord.

  • Change of address or phone number
  • The contract should specify how much notice should be given to the landlord prior to move-out
  • Self storage contracts are typically month-to-month, so your contract may automatically renew if you don’t give notice that you’re vacating the unit

Landlord Rights

There are certain circumstances under which the landlord has the right to enter the unit.

  • To make necessary repairs
  • Understand conditions under which the landlord can lock the tenant out of the unit and how the tenant can regain access

Legal Definitions

Below are some examples of legal jargon that you may see on the contract. These definitions will help you make sense of the legal terms.

Lien on Personal Property – A lien means that if you don’t pay your bill, the facility owners can sell your stored property at a storage auction. Most states have lien laws.

Release of Liability Waiver – Most contracts require you to agree to a waiver that says the landlord is not responsible if you are hurt at the facility or your belongings are damaged. Examples of this release are (1) a mouse getting into your unit and damaging your furniture or (2) getting your hand stuck and injured in the door. Your landlord is not liable for either of these occurrences. However, this waiver does not apply to intentional conduct. For example, (1) if the owner threw your belongings out in the rain or snow or (2) purposefully punched you and broke your nose, he or she would be liable.

Indemnification – This means that if a tenant does something that results in a claim against the storage facility, the tenant or their insurance company will defend and pay any judgments against the facility. For example, a plumber (tenant) while picking up supplies from his unit,  backs his van into another customer, injuring him or her. The injured party will probably sue the plumber and the self storage facility. However, under indemnification, the plumber’s insurance will settle both claims.

Breach – A breach is simple. It’s a violation of any terms in the contract. Examples of a breach are failure to pay your rent or living in your storage unit.

Exclusion of Warranties – This clause means that the landlord is not responsible if the tenant is unsatisfied with the unit after signing the contract. Check the unit thoroughly before signing the contract.


Most self storage contracts are not excessively confusing. Nevertheless, even if the agreement is complex, it’s your responsibility to understand what your signing. Before you decide whether to agree to the terms and conditions in your contract, be sure to review it with the store manager. If you’re not comfortable with certain sections of the document, seek legal advice prior to signing.

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