Self storage is used by nearly 1 out of 10 American households to store their excess goods. In the recent past, self storage simply consisted renting a 'storage unit' from your neighborhood storage facility, however recently other options have become available, such as portable and ship-to-store options. In addition, not every self storage facility is the same anymore. In the past, almost every self storage facility consisted of the same metal buildings with roll-up garage doors, situated neatly between residential and commercial areas in every city. Today self storage facilities offer numerous different amenities and options including climate controlled units, units with interior access only, self storage facilities with multiple stories and different security and access options just to name a few.
Self Storage still most often pertains to renting a traditional self storage unit at your local self storage facility. Self Storage is often used during times of transition such as:
- Military deployment
- College/semester breaks
- Business excess (inventory, equipment, supplies, etc.)
The self storage rental process is fairly easy. Storage unit rental agreements are typically month-to-month and the entire process from the time you choose a facility until the time you can begin moving your belongings into your new storage unit typically takes less than half an hour. When renting self storage you must take your goods down to the facility and unload them into your unit. Many facilities offer the use of a rental truck to load your belongings. Sometimes as a promotion the rental truck is discounted or free to use for moving in.
Most storage facilities also charge a onetime administration or move-in fee. Once you have signed your lease then you alone have access to your storage unit. Most storage facilities will require some type of insurance on your goods. Sometimes your homeowner's policy will cover the contents of your storage unit; if not, almost all facilities will have insurance that you can purchase.
Most of the time you must provide your own lock, however many facilities will provide you with a lock either as a standard practice or as part of a move-in special. The disk lock is recommended as the most secure type of lock. Self storage facilities often have other security measures such as:
- Fenced in properties
- Electronic Gate Access
- Security Surveillance Cameras
- Bright Lighting
- On-site managers
Typically storage facilities will have office hours and gate hours. They usually follow normal business hours during the week and have limited hours on the weekends. Gate hours are the hours that you can get onto the property to access your unit. These are usually extended beyond the normal office hours and are typically somewhere around 6am - 10pm seven days a week.
Storage units range in size, with the smallest unit typically being 5'×5' and the largest being somewhere around a 10×30. Depending on the market you are living in you can find larger and smaller units. Large, heavily populated areas can offer self storage in a storage locker that is even smaller than 5'x5' and some storage facilities offer large garage type storage units that will hold a recreational vehicle. Ceiling heights are usually somewhere between 8 and 10 feet tall. Many facilities have model units to help you determine what size of unit you need. Most storage facilities sell everything you will need for packing and storing including boxes, bubble wrap, tape, mattress covers, and more.
You can typically count on holding on to your self storage unit in perpetuity as long as you continue to pay your rent. Most self storage facilities now offer automatic payment options using a credit card or automatic checking account debit. These options not only save you time and from having to remember to make the payment each month but can also save you from possibly losing your possessions if you forget to pay the rent for an extended period of time.
It is important to always notify your self storage manager of any changes in address, phone number, e-mail or other contact information so if they can reach you if they need to - whether they need to discuss rent payments that are due or need to notify you of scheduled maintenance at the facility that could affect you. When you no longer need your self storage unit it is important to make sure you notify your manager with the proper notice stipulated in your rental agreement. After moving out your possessions it is always important to clean your unit - cleaning to a "broom-sweep" level is normally acceptable. It is also a good idea to make the time to do a final inspection of the storage unit with the manager after the unit is emptied and clean. This is important so you are sure there is no damage done to the unit between the time you move-out and the next time the manager inspects it.
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