10 Things You Should Know Before You Rent a Self Storage Unit

Published on 4/1/2024

Clutter stressing you out?

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Self storage units are a great way to store your belongings. It is important to know what you are getting into before you sign the dotted line.  Here we will discuss 10 things to know before you rent your storage unit. So, whether you're a first-time storage renter or just looking for some storage tips, read on for more information.

1. Read The Contract

It is important to understand what is in the contract for your self storage unit. The most important item to understand in your rental agreement is the rental price and due date. If you cannot afford to pay your rent on time, DO NOT rent a storage unit. Facility owners can and will auction your belongings for non-payment and late payment. Do not ignore any notices for payment. Most storage facility owners will work with late tenants that show in good faith they intend to pay their rent. Be aware of any fees in your contract, such as a late fee, overlock fee and legal notice fee. However, these fees can be avoided by paying your rent on time. If you pay a deposit at the time of rental, be sure to remove everything from the storage unit, including trash, to avoid losing your deposit refund.

Some things to consider when looking over your rental agreement:

  • How long is the term of the contract? Most facilities use a month-to-month term.
  • Are there any penalties for moving out early?
  • Does the contract automatically renew?
  • How does the move out process work?
  • How are rental rate increases handled during the course of the rental?

2. Climate Controlled vs. Temperature Controlled vs. Non-climate Controlled Storage Units

Non-Climate Controlled Storage Units

The type unit with the least protection for your belongings is a Non-climate Controlled Unit. No temperature or humidity control. A more economical option for your less delicate belongings.


Temperature Controlled Storage Units

The next level of protection is a Temperature Controlled Unit. Temperature is controlled year-round; humidity is controlled only when the AC is running.


Climate Controlled Storage Units

The highest level of protection is a Climate Controlled Unit. Temperature and humidity are controlled all year round through the use of air conditioning during warm months and dehumidification units during cooler weather. Many facilities use the terms temperature controlled and climate controlled interchangeably as if they are equal. They are not. Tenants may unknowingly rent a temperature-controlled unit thinking they have a climate-controlled unit.

3. How Storage Units Are Priced

Most units for storage are priced per square foot. While larger units will cost more, smaller units are usually slightly more per square foot. For example, a 10x20 storage unit may cost $118 per month or $.59 per square foot, whereas, a 10x10 storage may cost $75 per month or $.75 per square foot. If you are uncertain how much space you need, storage facility operators can assist you and help take out the guess work.

4. Insurance

One important thing to consider when you rent a storage unit is insurance. Most homeowner's insurance policies do not cover your belongings in storage. Be sure to check with your insurance agent to be sure before purchasing separate insurance. If your belongings are not covered, many storage facilities offer coverage for an additional cost. If the facility does not offer coverage, renters insurance coverage can usually be found online.

Insurance is essential because your rental agreement probably contains language that protects the storage facility from liability for theft, water damage, fire, rodent damage among other things.

5. Security

Security levels at self storage facilities can vary significantly from facility to facility. Be sure to inquire about the facility's security features before you rent a storage unit to be sure your belongings are safe.

Some security features to look for are:

  • Gated access: Only people with a code can enter the facility. Some facilities have gate systems where code entry can be monitored. An activity log is maintained showing the date and time of code entry.
  • Security cameras:  These can help deter crime and help identify criminals if a crime does occur. Some facilities have security cameras that can be accessed remotely from a cell phone or computer. This helps facility operators monitor activity outside of regular business hours.
  • On-site security: Some self storage facilities may offer on-site security via security guards, but this feature will come with added expense for your storage unit.


6. Access Hours

Access hours can vary from facility to facility. Some have limited access hours while others may offer 24-hour access. If you are going to need to access your storage unit outside of regular business hours, be sure to inquire about access hours before completing your storage rental.

7. Climate Control

If you're storing items sensitive to temperature or humidity, choose a unit with climate control. Everyday items that need climate-controlled storage include:

  • Electronics: Computers, TVs, game consoles and other electronics can be damaged by extreme heat, cold or humidity.
  • Furniture: Wood furniture can warp or crack in extreme temperatures and mildew in high humidity. Microfiber furniture is extremely susceptible to mildew in high humidity.
  • Musical instruments:  Humidity extremes as well as large temperature swings can damage musical instruments.
  • Business documents: Paper being an absorbent material can be damaged by humidity.
  • Art: Art is sensitive to humidity extremes.
  • Rugs: Rugs can absorb moisture causing them to mildew.

8. Items Not Allowed In Storage Units

Be sure to check your rental agreement for storage restrictions. This is important because some items cannot be stored in self storage units.

Due to the risk of any potential damage or liability, the following items are typically not allowed to be stored in self storage units:

  • Hazardous materials: This includes gasoline, oil, paint, and chemicals.
  • Perishable food: This consists of any food that will spoil if not refrigerated or bagged items, such as pet food that will attract rodents.
  • Flammable liquids: This includes items such as propane, kerosene, and paint thinners.
  • Wet Items: This will lead to mold and mildew. Be sure to dry your belongings before storing them. Be sure refrigerators and freezers are defrosted and dried before storage.


9. Packing

Packing in an organized manner can save space and allow you to rent the smallest storage unit possible saving you money. Use storage containers and boxes that are the right size for your items. This will ensure you will not have wasted space inside your containers. Use stackable boxes and containers. This will allow you to make maximum use of the space in your storage unit.

Some additional packing tips include:

  • Disassemble furniture: This will help you save space and prevent damage.
  • Pack heavy items in small boxes: This will make them easier to carry and avoid damage to your belongings.
  • Use storage bags: Storage bags can help you save space and keep your belongings organized.
  • Label everything: This will help you find items when you need them.

10. Reviews

Read online reviews. This will give you a wealth of information about the storage facility and staff.

Look for reviews that mention the following:

  • Customer service: This is important since there may be times when you need to contact the facility.
  • Security: This will give you an idea of how safe the facility is.
  • Cleanliness: In general, a clean facility is more likely to be well-maintained.

By reading reviews, you can better understand what to expect from a particular storage facility. Now that you know the ropes, don’t wait, Rent Online Today!

Mike Richardson 

President and half owner of Home Town Mini Storage

14 years’ experience in the self-storage industry

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