Should You Screen Self-Storage Unit Renters With a Background Check?

Two thieves managed to clip the padlock off an outdoor storage unit at a Missouri facility, nabbing two generators and a leather couch, ABC News reported. Carol Lagoie also lost belongings worth $10,000 when thieves broke into her unit.

Self-storage facilities are the new hot spots for thieves. Security cameras and electronic gates no longer prevent this kind of theft, especially when the thieves are renters themselves with break-in expertise. Eleven million Americans store belongings in self-storage units for a monthly fee, and despite heavy-duty padlocks and security measures, their personal items are vulnerable to theft. Storage unit operators feel the pressure to improve security measures beyond high-tech cameras, strict gate access and qualified onsite personnel, and they’re doing this by running background checks on would-be renters.

Tenants & Renters

Similar to tenant background checks required by landlords and renting properties, screenings provide facilities with information they can use to improve onsite protection and avoid liability. The screening process for both rental properties and self-storage sites shares the same goals and concerns.

Storage unit renters, just like apartment tenants, can cost a rental property and storage company money and even their reputation. A credit check and criminal report can alert storage unit operators about potential renters who could be a threat to onsite security. Facility owners can visit the American Apartment Owners Association online for more information about how application policies without background reports can victimize property.

Pros Outweigh Cons

Wilsonville Self-Storage in Oregon checks their applicants for financial and criminal histories. Self-storage facilities that are certified crime-free may also conduct fingerprint verification before they rent out a unit.

Screenings raise the issues of cost and discrimination. Even facilities that provide leases with a “not responsible for lost or stolen items” agreement can risk their reputation by experiencing a break-in. Facilities are faced with further challenges such as turning away disqualified customers who could actually be of no threat. Is it fair to turn away customers with bad credit, even on a month-to-month basis? Should tenants with a criminal history that has nothing to do with property theft also be turned away? Leasing decisions are in the hands of the operator, and the Self-Storage Legal Network emphasizes how consistency is the solution. By requiring every customer undergo a background check, a facility follows nondiscrimination practices.

Keeping the best interests of your renters by conducting background checks is also a selling point. It’s reassuring for customers to know that a facility is taking preventative measures at all costs to avoid break-ins and provide dependable security.

We emphasize a criminal background check as a screening process priority. Obtain courthouse records, pull credit scores, search criminal databases, and check social security numbers for fraudulent activity. Facilities can visit our blog on “Best Practices in Tenant Screening” for more information about establishing a screening process and accessing information through the best provider. Storage Ahead recommends the database services Virtual Gumshoe, Search Systems and Criminal Searches for affordable criminal record searches.


Andy Wallace

Andy writes for various blogs on diverse topics.


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