Standard Mini Storage Security Features

When it comes to maintaining a safe and secure mini storage site, where customers can feel confident that nothing will befall their valuables, there are several security measures which are now considered to be industry standards. For example, a mini storage facility that has no surveillance cameras whatsoever will probably get more than a few sideways glances from prospective tenants who are told there is no eye-in-the-sky watching over everything. Of course, a lack of surveillance cameras could be made up for with a resident manager. A resident manager is a feature of many self storage facilities across the country; it means that the property manager actually lives on-site in a specially designed apartment that is oftentimes attached to the office.

Self Storage Security Systems Help to Keep Watch

Security cameras and a property manager that lives on-site both speak to the importance of keeping an eye on things that happen on the property – generally speaking either cameras or a resident manager can do the job, but it’s far more effective to have both in place at the same time. In fact, when a property manager is explaining the basics to new tenants, they will usually respond to questions regarding rental rates and why they are so high by pointing out that these special features, such as security systems and the on-site manager are factored into the cost.

The Mute Doormen of the Mini Storage Security World

The next major self storage security system that comes into play on most every facility is the front gate. Some facilities are so large that they have multiple entry gates. Some only have one. In general, this is the first and most effective line of defense against would be intruders and individuals of malicious intent. Today, many self storage facilities employ highly advanced gate systems that are linked up with tenant access management systems. For example, you may see a keypad next to an entry gate that each tenant must code into when approaching the property. These electronically managed coded access systems accomplish several different security goals at once. For one thing, they will only admit current tenants who have real business on the property. Someone just walking in off the street would not be able to bypass the gate.

Who Goes There?

Secondly, these advanced gate systems capture tenant movement information and automatically build a detailed access log for the entire property and can store the information daily. This means that if a property manager ever needed to know who was in a certain area at a given time on a given day, in order to solve some mystery regarding a damaged aspect of the property or an altercation between two tenants, they can simply look up the gate access log electronically and be given a detailed read-out of everyone coming on and off the property, what section they were admitted to and how long they spent there. These tenant access logs, used in association with the security camera systems, are highly effective ways of monitoring activity on a mini storage property and together they form the basic make-up of a solid self storage security system.

Advanced Self Storage Security Systems

There are yet additionally advanced security features now emerging in the exciting world of self storage security. While not yet implemented in the majority of mini storage facilities, these specialized security measures represent the cutting edge of an industry that must forever stay one step ahead of the folks that would rip people off if they could.

One of the most effective advanced security measures is an individual unit alarm system that is integrated with the electronic coded access gate system. For example, when a current tenant codes into the entry gate, the system will recognize them and commence the gate opening sequence. Meanwhile, the adjunct unit alarm system will send a signal to that tenants unit (or all of their units if they rent more than one) which disarms their alarm. However, the alarms on everyone else’s units on the property will stay active! This ensures that a tenant can only access their own units without tripping an alarm. This advanced security system accomplishes a goal that was once elusive to frustrated property managers: sometimes a seemingly well mannered tenant would rent a small and inexpensive unit on the property just to gain access to the property, so that they could break into unattended units and steal everything inside! Individual unit alarm systems, used in conjunction with the gate access management systems, will effectively red flag a tenant who goes on property and tampers with anyone else’s unit.

Another fun advanced security feature now in use at some mini storage facilities actually works in conjunction with these individual unit alarms. When a person’s unit alarm is triggered by an unauthorized tenant, the system will automatically send an SMS text message to the rightful owner’s cell phone, allowing them to respond either by calling the property to ask the manager what’s going on, or by coming down to their unit to check the situation out for themselves.

Making Local Storage Auctions into a Home Business

With the public’s awareness of local storage auctions becoming more and more pronounced in recent months, some folks are turning their storage rummaging hobby and pastime into something far more lucrative and sustainable. A locally-supplied home-run business. The basics of setting up your own home business using local storage auctions as your supplier are simple: you need to bring in enough discounted goods via smart storage auction purchases, then appraise and refurbish the worthwhile stuff, and then resell it either via online auction sites like eBay or local listing directories like craigslist. If you are careful to price your items to move, but still high enough to turn you a profit based on what you paid for the storage unit, you can even use your front lawn as your selling floor and a couple well-placed signs on major roads for advertising.

Becoming Your Own Business Through Storage Locker Sales

Essentially what you are doing is making yourself into a retail store, while avoiding the high overhead costs and initial investment capital usually necessary to get a new retail store off the ground. The best way to figure out if using local storage auctions to provide you with inventory will work for you is to try it out first, on a small scale. Just attend one of the mini storage sales in your area. You can check the newspaper for postings about when the next public mini storage auction is coming up. Bring $100-200 for your first time, and keep an eye out for a small unit, probably around 5×5, that looks pretty densely packed. Avoid units that are primarily made up of clothes and other personal junk like blankets and trash bags.

What to Look For in a Mini Storage Unit

You want to focus your efforts on neatly boxed up units and units with several identifiable items of value. For example, if you can say, Oh, there’s a TV, there’s an upscale coffee maker, and there are a couple of board games that I could probably resell at a yard sale for $2-5 each, then you’ve got yourself something of interest. When the bidding starts, your aim is to get the entirety of the unit for about half of what you think you could make by reselling everything inside it at discounted prices. The biggest mistake new auction hunters make is to over-inflate the value of the things they see inside a unit they want simply because they are excited. Keep your emotions reined in and undervalue the items inside while making a quick tally of their worth. Now half this number and don’t bid a dollar above it.

Winning a Local Mini Storage Unit

If you win the unit, you get to pay the auctioneer or the storage company the full amount following the conclusion of the auction. Most auctioneers and storage companies prefer cash. Credit card sometimes works. Personal checks are almost never accepted, under the assumption you’d just pack up your things, bounce a check, and never be heard from again. Once you have paid up, the property manager will help you to get access to your unit and you can begin stuffing all your new winnings into your car.

Sift and Sort

Now you can head home and start sorting through the goods. Separate the objects of obvious value and do your best to clean them up. If they are electronics or appliances, test them to see if they work. Plug them in and make them do what they are supposed to do. If they don’t do what they are supposed to do, take note of this and knock even more off their resale price. Once you have everything more or less sorted out, you can start listing your items on eBay and craigslist. eBay is a great catch-all solution for selling just about anything, big or small, sentimental or highly technical. eBay is also ideal for extremely obscure offerings. If you can find the right name for it and make a listing for it, chances are someone will buy it from you.

What Should Go on Craigslist.com

Craigslist is better for larger items of general interest. For example, standard and decent looking pieces of furniture, coffee tables, lamps, small couches, paintings, wall hangings and the like. If it is too large to comfortably ship to an eBay buyer, just post it on craigslist for a reasonable price. If you are not sure if your asking price is reasonable, just put OBO in the post to signify ” or best offer”.

All the rest of it you can put out for a yard sale, should you have enough of it. If you have other things in your home you’ve been meaning to get rid of, now is a great time to lump everything together and try to make some cash extra cash!

Step Back and Reevaluate

If you finish this whole process with more money than you initially put into it, and you found that you didn’t hate the entire undertaking, and, better yet, even enjoyed it a little, then try buying up two storages next time you hit a local auction.

The “Inside” Scoop on Climate Controlled Storage

When most people hear the phrase “climate controlled” they think, cold, right? Climate controlled might as well be an alternative name for air conditioned or chilly. Many mini storage companies attract a lot of clients by advertising their climate controlled secure storage. This sounds ideal for people with delicate and temperature sensitive materials they need to ensure the safety of. But prospective storage customers should be aware that not all quote “CC” storage units are made equally.

Common Climate Controlled Half-Truths

Oftentimes climate controlled can mean nothing more than indoors! Depending on the layout and design of a given mini storage facility, you might be talking about nothing more than a small closet-sized unit that doesn’t have a drive-up door, meaning you have to go inside a hallway in order to access it. How is this climate controlled, you might understandably ask? Why, because it’s not outside in the sun, of course! Common half-truths like this one can be particularly thorny when you are trying to reserve or rent your locker remotely, perhaps in a new town before you actually arrive. You might be asked to put down a non-refundable deposit on a space you can’t even really use and that isn’t really air-conditioned. This, of course, can get frustrating when you show up and realize your precious wine collection is in no way going to be safe in this little hot box for several months on end.

There are a couple of ways you can get to the bottom of things before getting the wool pulled over your eyes. If you call up a facility and it claims to have these special CC units available, ask them what the average temperature is. If they don’t know, that’s your first sign that something’s fishy. A true climate controlled storage system will have a way for the manager to specify or at least read the current temperature of a given storage block, so this is a number they should be able to produce readily.

The other way to find out what’s really going on when they are talking about their special climate controlled units is to say that you understand they are climate controlled, but you want to know if they are air conditioned. If they are not air-conditioned, you can assume that what they really mean by climate controlled is closer to “air-circulated”, meaning that large industrial fans inside the buildings keep the air moving so that mold and other nastiness cannot build up in the stale environment.

Of course, nothing will beat an actual visit in person to the facility in question. If you want to feel for yourself whether they are stretching the term or if the indoor units really can keep their chill, ask to see them yourself.

Renting Storage From a Kiosk?

What Are Storage Kiosks Anyway?

With crafty storage owners forever trying to reduce costs and increase profits, certain mini storage facilities throughout the country have begun to be outfitted with automatic storage rental kiosks, special automated booths that allow a tenant to rent storage any time of night or day. These kiosks can allow you to select a unit size, print your rental contract for you, and accept your first rent payment. Unfortunately, there are a couple of things these storage rental kiosks can’t do, which can potentially lead to some frustrating late night encounters.

Downsides to Rental Kiosks

Rental kiosks, being designed to essentially provide round the clock service, even when an employee can’t be on property, are supposed to automate the entire realm of storage functions, right? They should take payments, rent units, process move-outs and the like. Unfortunately for some tenants who come by late at night hoping to perform a complex operation via the kiosk, such as pay off their delinquency and have the company overlock removed, many kiosks are not sophisticated enough to perform many of the functions that still require the direct attention of a human employee.

Know Before You Go – The Limitations of Storage Kiosks

Keep this in mind if you’re ever trying to get something done at your storage facility after hours. For example, you might be able to show up and pay off your late storage bill, thereby bringing yourself current within the system. However, the kiosk has no way of tromping over to your unit and removing the overlock. You will have to wait until the next business day to have an employee help you get into your unit. Bummer! This can be extremely frustrating, especially if you’ve just dropped a few hundred bucks to regain access to your belongings.

Why Keep Kiosks on Limited Duty?

Additionally, most kiosk-equipped mini storage facilities are not designed to grant a tenant immediate access to the property even after they have completed the rental process. Unfortunately, this is another complex action that requires a tenant to come during business hours, when a real live employee can check over the rental agreement and verify that the tenant has completed it correctly. Some folks are upset to find this out after using a kiosk in hopes of getting onto the property immediately after. Some advanced kiosks are in the works that will be capable of opening and closing units electronically, but, again many owners and management companies want a real live manager in place to handle the move in process, for a number of good reasons.

For one thing, kiosks cannot observe or discipline new tenants that are using their brand new unit as a storehouse for tons of fresh dynamite, for example. If a kiosk sees you storing truckloads of poorly sealed damp dogfood in your dark unit, it has little recourse beyond beeping. A real manager would put the hurt on you pretty quick, in order to protect the overall value of the property and the storage experience of all the other tenants.

For the most part, these automated storage kiosks excel at taking payments. They can do this when a manager is busy at the bank, or on property, or handling phone calls or out to lunch.

Getting the Best Storage Rental Quote

If you’re shopping around for a new storage locker to rent, you naturally want to find the best value for your money. Price points in the self storage industry fluctuate a great deal, quite similarly to the monthly rates in the auto insurance industry. Sometimes, you can visit one storage property and get quoted one price for a 10×7 unit that is much different from what you’ll be told when you come back three months later and ask about the same exact unit. This price variation is due to the way that mini storage companies are set up to make money – they change their prices very frequently for several different reasons: staying competitive with other nearby companies, reflecting a massive increase or decrease in vacancy, and to switch things up and try to attract a large influx of new companies.

Storage Price Flux: Good or Bad?

What does this mean for you as a shopping mini storage customer? It can seem unfair at times, and that no matter what you’re going to get saddled with a bunk storage quote. Quite to the contrary, if you are savvy you can easily work the system to your advantage and ensure that you are always getting the rock bottom storage quote out of the manager you’re speaking with. Here are essential tips for getting the absolute best storage rental quote when you’re shopping around.

Getting Great Storage Rates: #1 – Be Nice!

Remember that the perspectives of the storage manager and the customers differ a good deal. The manager, unless they are totally desperate for any move-ins that come their way, are always thinking about prospective customers that approach them. Does this customer seem nice and easy to deal with? Will I want to be calling them or speaking to them in person regularly if they spend a lot of time on-property? Do they seem clean cut and likely to be able to make their monthly rent obligations without a problem?

If you are polite and friendly when you approach the manager, they will be much more willing to give you a great deal or the inside scoop on specials and tips you can use to lower your monthly rent. It is well known amongst storage managers that rude, pushy and obnoxious customers pay a “difficult tenant premium”, a sort of inside joke referring to the fact that managers will charge an unpleasant tenant the full possible amount and give them no leeway whatsoever when it comes to specials and discounts.

So, in this case, as in many others in life, it pays to be personable.

Getting Great Storage Rates: #2 Prepay

Even if the mini storage company you’re storing with doesn’t offer much in the way of move-in specials, you can almost always secure yourself a nice discount by opting to prepay a few months or a year in advance. If you know with certainty that you’re going to need the space for a long time to come, this is a great way to keep some cash in your pocket. Some companies work on a percentage model: pay 6 months ahead, for example, to get 10% off, or a full year to get 20% off. Some facilities will allow you to combine these discounts with other move-in specials like an introductory one-month price or a second month free. Others only allow you to choose one special or discount.

Getting Great Storage Rates: #3 Appear Flighty

Mini storage managers are prepared for customers to come in and say that they are shopping around, so use this to your advantage. Most managers will give you extra concessions on rent and rates when you appear non-committal and mention that you have already toured several other facilities nearby. This signals that you are serious enough about renting storage that you’re willing to examine your options, and this tells the property manager that it’s probably a good idea to try and secure your business.

When you use this technique, remember to be polite and pleasant but explain that you haven’t made up your mind yet and that you have to settle soon because your need for storage is pressing. Maybe you’re moving out of an apartment or your things are coming in a container from another state. Whatever the case may be, tell the manager you appreciate their time and that you’ll have to think it over / discuss it with your partner. Make sure you get their contact information, either by taking a business card or asking for their name and phone number.

They will likely use this opportunity to ask for your contact info, too. If they ask permission to call you back later if they’re able to work a better deal for you, tell them you’d like that. This is your sign that they are going to go even lower on their monthly rent offering. At this point you should leave and tell them you are going to visit a few more facilities that day.  If they call you back later that day, it’s a good sign they are very eager for your business and willing to give you a much better rate than their price sheet designates as standard.

Getting Great Storage Rates: #4 Got Skills?

Although this storage rate tip may or may not help you during your initial negotiations, you should keep in mind that property managers like taking on tenants with special skills, especially those with professional backgrounds in maintenance, electrical, security and fire safety. If you are a carpenter, electrician or handyman, mention this during your first few chats with the manager.

Sometimes something on the mini storage property will require special attention from a skilled professional. Being too busy or unable to handle it themselves, storage managers have been known to enlist the help of one or more of their tenants in exchange for credits on their rent. This is a great way to lower your monthly storage bill, although it can’t always be depended upon as regular and it’s ultimately up to the manager’s discretion. However, many managers have been known to give their tenant a free month, even on a large unit, for repairing part of the gate system after someone smacks it down with their car!

Reader Question: Can a Manager Buy A Storage Unit Up for Auction?

Today’s reader question comes from Hank and regards the conflict of interest that can occur when a property manager working at the facility holding an auction wants to buy a unit. Not long ago we featured another reader question that dealt with some shady managers who were actually plucking the best goods from repossessed sheds before they were sold to the public on the big day. All in all, sounds like there are some pretty unsavory goings on at some of these storage facilities! Hank asks:

[quote] Hello, I wanted to know: is it ever OK for a manager to buy up the storage unit that is currently on auction? Some of my buddies say they have seen managers and other employees bidding on units around our area but I didn’t think this kind of thing was allowed? [/quote]

Wow, you guys are dealing with some morally corrupt storage companies! Either there’s not enough oversight going on, or folks just do things drastically different where you live. To answer your question, a manager buying up an auction unit where he or she works is a big NO NO. Now, it might not necessarily be illegal, but it opens the company they work for up to massive vulnerabilities. How screwy does it sound for a manager to press the auction process hard and unrelentingly on a delinquent tenant, just to turn around and win their belongings on auction day?

Why Managers Should Never Buy Auction Units

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that would call foul to this kind of behavior. The company would have to worry about a wrongful sale lawsuit, which can be painfully costly when lost. Many times a wronged tenant has sued for many times more than the total value of their storage unit and they’ve won. That’s money that has to come out of the company’s pocket and profits!

If a manager in your area is stupid enough to be buying auction units at their own facility, and doing so blatantly enough that tenants like yourself are noticing it, they are in for a world of hurt if their bosses ever figure it out or if their company gets smacked with a wrongful sale lawsuit.

Are You a Manager Tempted to Attend Your Own Auctions?

If you happen to be a self storage property manager and you really just can’t wait to get your own dose of delinquent storage buying, just put on a baseball cap and go down the street to another company’s auction on your day off. Don’t risk your job and your company’s reputation by doing something as dumb as trying to buy a unit whose auction paperwork you processed!

Self Storage Late Fees and Auction Timeline

Keeping current with your monthly storage bill is always the best policy. Not only will you save money in the long run (by not paying steep and steadily mounting late fees) but you’ll also save yourself the stress of having to worry about the lien process, which begins with a few additional lien fees and ends with several hefty fees as well as your unit going to auction! Every storage company is different and the ultimate timetable for your particular unit(s) is up to your facility and your property manager, the following is a basic timeline that is used widely across the self storage industry.

Understanding Storage Grace Periods

If your rent is due on the first, your company may or may not extend a short grace period to its tenants. A grace period is a time during which you can still make your monthly rent payment without incurring any penalty. Some companies extend this across the board to every customer and don’t mind if a tenant takes advantage of it every month so long as they get their payment in before the end of the period. Some companies will allow customers to skate once or twice up to the end of the grace period but won’t allow the late payments to go on forever.

The First Late Fee

Either way, once you pass the grace period, the first late fee is applied. Again, this will be determined by your particular company and it could be $10 or $15 or more. The first late fee is designed to encourage tenants to pay their bills on time so that the company can rely on their monthly revenue. Meanwhile, they do also add to revenue as customers who are late end up paying extra per month for the same unit.

You will probably see the second late fee posting to your account anywhere from the 7th to 10th day of the month.

The Pre-Lien Fee

The next major action applied to delinquent storage accounts is what’s called a Pre-Lien fee. Expect this to be as much or more than a regular late fee. This fee is applied once the initial rent payment becomes 15 days late. In the eyes of your storage company, this fee is applied because of the extra work your non-payment causes the property manager. Every unit that is 15 days late must receive a postmarked official letter in the mail explaining the delinquency situation to the tenant and breaking down all the fees that add up to the total amount. This pre-lien letter also acts as one of the early warnings in the lien, and ultimately auction, process. In addition, a self storage company will print off copies of each letter and postmark them as well, placing them in the hard copy files of each tenant. This is done to prevent a situation in which a tenant would claim they never received their 15 day pre-lien warning and that it was lost in the mail.

The Official Lien Begins

The next step in the delinquency process is a Lien fee. This occurs once the rent payment is 30 days late. It also officially marks the start of the company’s repossession of the given unit and its contents. At the company’s and the manager’s discretion, your unit may be overlocked at this point, which means the manager will put a company lock on your unit so that you cannot get into your unit even if you do come down to the property. This 30 day lien fee may be higher than the usual late fees.

Don’t Expect Favors at this Point

Any good manager will refuse to let you into your unit at this point until you make your payment in full. Some unscrupulous customers will ask for a special favor to be granted temporary access into their unit so they can get a few things they care about and then skip out on the rest of their bill forever. It’s really not fair to ask the manager to let you into your unit. Remember that only your non-payment put the overlock on your unit and that you are putting the manager in an uncomfortable and risky situation by asking them to give you access. Usually, they should just say no.

The 48 Day Notice of Sale

If you don’t settle your account by this point, you are begining to cut it quite close. The next official action is a 48 day notice of sale. 18 more days following the 30 day lien notice you will received a 48 day notice of sale usually by certified mail. This is basically your last chance to set things straight.

The End of the Line

Shortly after failing to deliver your full payment (now massively increased by late fees and lien fees) you might see an auction notice in your local paper for 2 days before your belongings are actually sold off to the highest bidder!

Modern Day Treasure Hunts at Storage Auctions

What is fueling this new phenomena? How come people all over the country, including those who have never even set foot on a self storage facility before, are all streaming into their local storage auctions as quickly as they can, hoping to get a piece of the action? Many property managers and facility owners are credited the new smash hit reality shows Storage Wars and Auction Kings with this newfound surge of public interest. Meanwhile, storage auctions themselves combine the possibility and exhilaration of a treasure hunt with the surprise profits of a traveling antique roadshow. The combination has been extremely compelling for all the families and lone auction hunters that have turned out to storage auctions across the country in the last few months, hoping to capitalize on what has for years been a relatively quiet and understated affair.

Why Storage Auctions Happen

Selling off storage units via public auction is actually the last resort of a self storage company that has been trying, unsuccessfully, for months to get their delinquent tenant to pay up on their monthly rental bill. After incurring 3 months worth of financial damages through non-payment, a storage company may choose to exercise their legal right to enforce their lien on the goods of the late tenant and ultimately sell them at auction in hopes of raising some of the money they are owed.

Storage Auction Rags and Riches

So just how lucky can a buyer get at a local storage auction? It’s entirely up to the fates and the type of person that was storing their things in the repossessed storage shed before they fell behind on their rent. Some lucky auction buyers have won mega-valuable collections of vintage baseball cards. Some auction hunters have walked away with truckloads of high quality professional grade tools, to either keep for themselves or resell for profit. Some auction buyers have found less than spectacular spoils in the units they’ve won, but nevertheless manage to turn their winnings into profit by determinedly reselling them either online or via consecutive yard sales.

Why People Attend Storage Auctions

What this tells us is that these modern day treasure hunts can be whatever you want them to be. If you’re just looking for a new and different way to start off your upcoming weekend, you can visit a local storage auction and try your hand at some competitive bidding. If you are looking for a great way to find some deeply discounted tools you need for business, think about checking out the storage auctions held by facilities that are frequented by a lot of handymen. If you want to start your own eBay business but you’re not sure where to find your inventory, look no further than a quick treasure hunt at your neighborhood’s storage facility.

The Safest Lock You Can Put on Your Storage

Speaking of security and storage, many new renters ask me which lock type is most secure when they’re first moving into their sheds. Part of me doesn’t want to tell them the truth – when they buy the most secure locks there’s always a chance they will forget their key and I will have to break into their unit for them. If the tenant has a normal padlock, getting into their unit is pretty simple. If they have one of these super secure circular disc locks, it’s an absolute pain!

How Secure are Specialty Disc Locks?

These specialty disc locks cannot be cut with normal bolt cutters the way smaller, simpler padlocks can. Not only are their bolts specially hardened to defeat standard and oversized bolt-cutters, but they’re also encased in special metal sleeves that extend all the way up on both sides to expose only the middle of the bolt itself. This makes it pretty difficult to even get a purchase on the bolt when the disc lock is installed on a storage shed door.

How I Break Disc Locks

What these disc locks usually require is that I break out the 7200 rpm grinder, load a new specialty grinder blade designed to handle metal, put on a face mask similar to those worn by welders, and then string 4 extension cords from the nearest power outlet all the way out to the tenant’s unit. You still need to know the exact spot to begin grinding down, where the internal components of the lock are the least dense. This process is further complicated if the lock was last secured onto the door with the weak side facing down, away from you and toward the door itself.

While grinding down disc locks the metal gets so hot that you will see it turn molten as it is sliced through. This results in a copious shower of sparks (hence the facemask) which can be hot.

Upping Your Storage Security

The point is that as a storage customer, it’s in your interest to buy and install these specialty disc locks on your storage unit because they will add another layer of security to your unit. Even if someone who knew what they were doing wanted to get into your unit, with malicious intent, they wouldn’t be able to do so without making a hell of a racket, so long as they are using the grinder method.

Other Self Storage Shed Security Tricks

Some folks are fond of a particularly irritating (if you are a property manager) trick which involves placing two locks on your storage unit. Many modern storage shed doors feature a sliding handle that actually has two separate slots where you can fit the bar of your padlock through. Because self storage managers use overlocks as one means of deterring late payments and forcing delinquent tenants to pay their monthly rental bill, some tenants think the clever way around this is to double up with their own locks!

If you happen to be behind on your payments, don’t try this, because all you will ultimately succeed in doing is severely irritating your property manager, who is the ultimate authority in determining just how rough the delinquency process is going to be on you! We storage managers have ways of defeating such dirty tricks. There is a special clamp that can be situated right between your two locks and then, you guessed it, overlocked itself. You still won’t be getting into your unit at this point!

Don’t forget that if you’re using a regular padlock, your belongings are only as secure as the property is closely watched by managers and correctly guarded by gates and cameras. A regular padlock takes about 5-10 seconds for someone handy with a pair of industrial bolt cutters to remove, and they can do this very quietly.

Some mini storage customers figure that they are entirely safe because only other storage customers can get onto the property, through the gates and past the manager. You may be right about this, but you’d be surprised at how many times the storage shed thief turns out to be another regularly paying customer!

Don’t get taken for a fool – there is a way around this little trick as well. When you are selecting a self storage shed on the basis of security, ask the property manager specifically what types of gate security they have in place at their facilities. The best electronic entry gates actually log all tenant activity by tracking who comes in through the front gate and at what time. It also tracks which units the incoming tenants open, setting of an alarm if the tamper with a unit that’s not theirs! It also shows their total amount of time on property and what time they left, through which exit gate! It’s not unheard of to have this complex a gate system in place at your local self storage facility, so if security is really the make or break factor for you, make sure you settle on a company that has invested in their entry gate system.

When all tenants understand that their usage of the site and their movements are being recorded, you can imagine how many fewer break-ins you will have in general.

What Effect is Storage Wars Having on Local Auctions?

It’s no secret that the wildly popular show “Storage Wars” has been drumming up storage auction frenzy all over the country. What started off as an implausible effort to get a new series up and running has, even to the surprise of people close to the project, exploded into a semi-phenomenon, increasing public awareness of self storage facilities and their services and swelling the ranks of auction attendees so much so that property managers everywhere are buzzing about the shows, even if they’ve never watched an episode.

Increased Phone Calls to Properties

Indeed, the sheer volume of phone calls coming in just to ask about storage auctions and the next time we’re holding one is staggering. It seems as though half the town watched Storage Wars one night and decided they were going to start buying up delinquent storage sheds the next day.

The Beginning of Storage Wars

Lance Watkins, who owns Storage Outlet in California was one of the first test cases for the Storage Wars dynamic. He agreed to allow his property and his delinquent unit auctions be filmed and turned into episodes for the fledgling show. At the outset, he didn’t think the show had a prayer of succeeding and expected it to flop hard. Nowadays, however, he’s reporting that auction units which once upon a time went for only $75 to $125 are being aggressively fought over by highly motivated bidders, and sometimes earning up to $500! This is obviously great news for the company, which relies on the public auctioning of these troubled storage sheds for a chance to recoup their financial losses after a tedious three months of not receiving payments from their tenant.

Increased Auction Attendance

Indeed, self storage facility managers from Maryland to California to Hawaii have been reporting quadruple the attendance at their local public auctions. Sales that might have only drawn in a handful of interested bidders before the advent of Storage Wars now draw the eager attention of 20 to 40 bidders, numbers that can sometimes overwhelm small operations!

Where is all this new bidding firepower coming from? Network metrics put the viewership for Storage Wars, hosted on A&E, to be at around 2.5 million.

The Inside Scoop on Storage Wars

This surge of success is even a surprise to the two men behind Storage Wars, Dolph Scott and Dan Dotson. Dan has been involved in auctions for 35 years and is stunned to see the kind of attention that a popular network television show can bring in. He has been asked to sign autographs for people he’s never met before, which is unbelievable at times.

Storage Wars has shown no signs of slowing down, either. As of the beginning of this year, the show could claim an additional .2 million viewers, bringing its total audience to 2.7 million. In light of these impressive statistics, the network has agreed to host a second season, ordering an additional 20 episodes.

Criticism for Storage Wars

There are two main fronts of criticism brought against this unique show. The first comes from people working within the industry, whether they are storage facility owners, management companies, property managers or self storage legal specialists. The main beef from their vantage is that the show inaccurately represents the actual day-to-day of a storage facility.

While it’s true that only a very small fraction of all storage tenants ever fall far enough behind on rent payments to be sent to auction, the entire purpose of Storage Wars is to showcase what does happen once a delinquent shed makes it to the public sale stage. After all, the overall purpose of the show is to entertain with a mind toward making money, so filming the actual day to day occurrences, like sweeping out dirty units, performing minor maintenance, haggling with prospective customers over monthly rates, making collection calls on your entire rent roll, would probably not be half as watchable. The exciting part is the treasure hunt, the “what’s behind that” moments and the ultimate cash-in. It’s not a documentary on life at a storage facility!

Many storage owners and managers that ultimately agreed to have their facilities filmed were squeamish at first about putting a spotlight on what can be the least pleasant aspect of the job. Often times people that end up going to auction have desperately tried to keep up on their monthly rent payments, but have failed because of unbearable financial hardships, layoffs, recession woes and more pressing monetary obligations (like buying food). Facility managers don’t always relish selling off people’s units. Many times they will have spent so much time talking and working with the people that end up on the chopping block that they will have a personal relationship with them by the time auction day rolls around. Insiders were understandably suspicious about the show’s core concept, fearing it would paint the entire self storage industry in an unfavorable light.

On the contrary, many managers and owners that were featured on the show now say that deciding to go along with the filming was the best decision they ever made, business-wise. It has increased their visibility and exposed an entirely fresh demographic to their facilities and services. Meanwhile, it has shown people the serious consequences of falling far behind on monthly rent payments and encouraged current tenants to keep up with their financial obligations so that their storage sheds never get to be at risk of sale in the first place.

The second major criticism levied against the show comes from viewers that have a sneaking suspicion that the entire spectacle is staged. Not necessarily being familiar with the entire realm of storage and its general rules and procedures, some Storage Wars viewers believe the entire auction process is a fake! While it’s understandable that folks who’ve never even set foot on a self storage property might wonder as to the plausibility of the entire situation, it is a raw cold fact that delinquent storage units are sold off in an attempt to recoup financial losses the company incurs by hosting non-paying tenants for an extended period of time. These auctions are done in accordance with applicable state lien laws, which allow a company to take possession of a non-paying tenants belongings, usually after 30 days.

This is done so that the company has a chance to stop losing money on a rented space that the tenant is not paying for, since the tenant has their own lock on the unit and their stuff crammed into it, meaning that the company cannot re-rent the space to a new paying customer. Keep in mind that companies don’t particularly like the auction process, even from a purely financial perspective focused on the bottom line. It’s far better to have someone who pays less, but pays each month on time (generating revenue the company can rely on for expansion, maintenance, salaries, etc) than to get nothing for months on end and then maybe get $100 to $300 during an auction, which might be a fraction of the total bill by that point. Most of the time, the company is simply happy to have the space open and rent-able again.