Unemployment, evictions, foreclosures: The economic uncertainties COVID-19 created for many families have countless consumers on the move. Many may be looking for storage units to facilitate these changes in living situation. It’s important to find a trustworthy storage facility, especially for prized possessions or antiques. Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises doing careful research before committing your items to a storage facility.
Check BBB.org for BBB Business Profiles on thousands of storage facilities, including BBB Customer Reviews, complaints and their resolution, and a rating from A+ to F. This information can give you important insight into what to consider when you visit a facility.
BBB received more than 1,900 complaints last year about storage units. In many cases, customers said they were unable to access their storage units after paying a deposit, their belongings were damaged while in the units or items were taken from the units without their knowledge. Other customers said the storage company continued to bill them even after they had canceled their unit and moved out their belongings. Some said companies held their goods hostage until a disputed bill was paid.
BBB offers the following factors to consider when shopping for a storage facility:
- Cost. To make sure you’re paying a reasonable amount, get written estimates from at least three facilities before renting. In addition to a monthly fee, costs can include storage preparation, padding, packing or transportation. There can be extra options, such as electricity, pest control or insurance. Make sure you understand due dates and any minimum time to rent or contract renewal dates.
- Size. What units are available? Is there a maximum weight limit for unit contents? Can you stack stored materials to the unit’s ceiling?
- Climate. Consider the general climate and whether your belongings could be damaged by water or mold. You may want to consider a climate-controlled unit.
- Insurance. Make sure your items are insured for theft, fire, water or other damage. You may be able to buy insurance from the storage facility or another source. Some homeowners’ policies may cover self-storage. Check with your agent.
- Safety. How is the unit secured? Does the door have a lock built in or do you need a heavy-duty padlock? Are there surveillance cameras on the property? Does the facility restrict access to renters or do strangers have access to the property? Is there an emergency phone number you can reach when the facility office is closed?
- Contract. Get everything in writing. Read and understand the contract and payment terms. Make sure the facility can get in touch with you in case there is a problem with your unit or payment.
- Access. What are the hours and any charges for accessing your unit? Is there adequate parking? How close can you park to the unit? Does the facility offer dollies or hand trucks to help you move your belongings in and out of the unit? Will your belongings fit through the doorway and inside the unit?