Form Letter – Overlock Notice for Delinquent Storage Tenant

If you need to send a notice to your delinquent storage tenant indicating that their rent is so far behind that they are being locked out, you can use this storage template letter and fill in the spaces with your own company’s information.

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Dear tenant,

This notice is to inform you that your rent payment has been past due for ___ days. Unfortunately, in accordance with your rental contract, our system has locked you out at the gate and an overlock will be placed on your units. Please get in contact with us at your earliest convenience by calling us at ___, e-mailing us at ____ or stopping by our office. We are here to help. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you,

We appreciate your business.

Sincerely,

_____Company Name & Contact Info___

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This lock-out form letter is ideal for situations in which your tenant has gone far past their rent payment due date and you need to step up the pressure in order to try to secure a payment. Keep in mind that you must check with your state’s lien laws to ensure you are not violating their legal rights by overlocking their units too early.

If you have tried contacting your storage customer repeatedly by phone, e-mail or SMS text, and you haven’t gotten any response yet, sometimes the mere mention of the overlock is enough to get your customer back into communications. Oftentimes, storage customers will try to avoid your collection calls and e-mails and hope to squeeze by until their next paycheck when money is tight. Nevertheless, many tenants still access their units quite a bit while doing this, making the threat of an overlock a pretty powerful deterrent.

The Best Collection Techniques for Self Storage Property Managers

In my experience working as a self-storage property manager, collection calls go much better when you put a positive attitude on, before you even call your tenant. Most people are already defensive when they answer a phone call from their storage company. They almost always know that they are behind on the rent and that you are calling them to try to get them to make a payment.

However, you can defuse a lot of this distrust by simply asking how they are doing as soon as you finish identifying yourself. Most tenants are so surprised by the question: “how are you doing?” that it will change the entire course of the conversation. By explaining that you are making your collection calls (plural!) you can depict yourself as their helpful guardian!

A lot of potentially unpleasant and negative situations can be proactively steered into a place of mutual understanding and respect. I thought I would share the tips and tricks I learned for collecting rent when a tenant is behind on their payments, and doing so in a manner that allows your tenant to maintain their dignity and you to make your quota.

Starting With the Right Attitude

Nobody likes getting collection calls. If you put yourself in this mind set before you start making your calls, it will help. Think about the last time you got a collection call when you were home from work. It’s not pleasant. It’s obnoxious, intrusive and can be embarrassing. You can expect that many of your delinquent tenants you hit with collection calls are already going to be upset over the disruption. Nevertheless, making collection calls is something you must do as a self storage property manager in order to keep your job, so you need to go about it in the most effective yet least intrusive way possible.

This is what always works for me: when you get them on the phone, say Hello, speak clearly and let them know who you are. I usually say something like, “Hi, Bob, this is Zack calling from ____company name___”. Bob will say Hi back, most of the time.

[box type=”info”] This is the point at which many managers make a crucial error. They will proceed directly into a discussion of the account and what is due. Here’s what I do instead: I ask them how they’re doing. Simple? Yes. Effective? You bet. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard outright surprise in a tenant’s voice after I ask them how they are doing. Usually, this is all you need to set up the rest of the conversation on the right foot. [/box]

When you ask your tenants how they are doing, a lot of them will tell you. Whether you bargained for these stories or not, you can get some insight into what is going on in their lives and how it’s impacting their ability to make their regular payments. This information is important.

You should note it down in your self storage property management software so that you and other managers can refer back to it in the future. Being able to discuss details of a tenant’s life with them down the road will increase your rapport. Building positive relationships with your tenants can help you to navigate problems in the future as well as to more easily discuss account issues.

Phrasing Your Collection Sentences Correctly

Once you’ve finished up the pleasantries, it’s time to discuss the reason you first made the call: their rent is overdue. There are a number of ways to go about this. Some managers take the bull-headed approach and demand payment immediately, which may or may not work. Some managers take the buddy-buddy approach and tell the tenant that they’re being forced to make collection calls in order to keep their job, so sorry for the disruption, and by the way your rent is overdue. This can work, too, since it keeps your tenant feeling comfortable and reminds them that you, too, are a working person trying to keep it all together, and not the evil landlord that wants to shake them down.

[box type=”info”] Here’s what I like to do. I let my late tenant know that “I’m checking in with them about the rent”. This is gentle enough not to be offensive, but it’s also to the point and allows you to get right into what’s going on. Alternatively, it also gives your tenant just enough wiggle room to start telling you their late-payment story, at which point you can either decide to give them a break and try to work something out, or let them know that no concessions can be made and it needs to be paid immediately, at your own discretion. [/box]

Regardless of which technique you choose to employ, always speak clearly and firmly. If you sound uncertain of yourself or like you’re wavering in your desire to collect rent, you will find that many tenants will try to exploit your uncertainty by insisting that they have already paid up their rent and that the mistake is on your part or the part of the company.

Sticking to the Record

Some late tenants like to the play the smoke blowing game. They will swear up and down that they never got a reminder, they never got an invoice, they never paid on the first of the month before and that their due date is in the middle of the month. If you’re new to the facility or if you don’t keep careful notes, there’s no way you’ll be able to keep track of all this information and you will find yourself in a pickle when you can’t confirm or deny all the junk that’s being hurled at you. A good note keeping system is built into almost every major self storage property management software, and you should always bring up the account of the tenant you’re about to call so that you can review the latest activity and be ready to flag down any bullshit they send your way.

Be polite but firm when correcting a tenant’s facts. If you are civil but you make it clear that you have all the facts in front of you, most tenants will stop arguing with you over dates and numbers and just accept the fact that they are late and need to make a payment.

Free Form Letter – Delinquent Storage Tenant Collection Letter

If you’re a property manager of a self-storage facility, one of your many functions is to play collection agent for all the accounts that are past due. For some people, this is not a problem, but others feel uncomfortable with this role, which is understandable. It can be difficult to call up total stranger, tell them their rent is overdue, and then inform them of the consequences of further delinquency.

Oftentimes, late tenants will become angry, even if you point out tthat you are simply making a courtesy call to remind them and help them to avoid late fees. Still others will give you a long drawn out personal sob story. It can be many managers’ least favorite part of the job. This free form letter for collecting delinquent storage rent should help:

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“Dear _tenant_”,

This is a friendly reminder from ___your_company_name__ that your monthly storage rent is now _number_ days past due. We hope to help you avoid late fees, and wanted to get in touch with you since the first late fee of ___$amount__ is set to post to your account in __number_ days. Please give us a call at __company_phone__number_, or e-mail us at __company_e-mail_ or stop by our office at your earliest convenience. If you have any questions or concerns about your account, we would be happy to help. Thank you for being our customer. We appreciate your business.

Sincerely,
_Manager_Name_

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Here is a basic form letter that you can use when you need to mail or e-mail a delinquent storage customer. You can copy this text and use it in your own forms or documents as needed. This is a courtesy letter reminding your tenant that the bill is due, but it is not a legal document. If you need a legal letter for any of the middle or late steps in the lien process, you should contact a good lawyer who is familiar with your state’s lien laws.

You can add or remove elements as it suits your business and situation. Feel free to use it as you see fit. I release this document for public use, but I make no claims as to its legality nor do I accept any liability for any damages or repercussions that may result from your use of this form letter. I hope this self storage form letter will be of help to self storage property managers that are looking for a quick and easy contact letter to get in touch with tenants who have fallen behind on their monthly rent. In my experience, this kind of letter works very well, because it is clearly designed with a friendly tone and a positive intention of helping out its recipient. I have found that delinquent tenants usually receive this letter very well because it is very clear that we are trying to help them out and give them a friendly reminder. I think this approach is much more effective than the hard-line approach of getting in someone’s face and telling them they owe you money!

Calling All Storage Companies

Do you own or manage a self storage company? Are you the web development specialist responsible for maintaining a self storage company’s online presence?

Storage Auctions Kings is proud to announce that we are now accepting guest posts from all interested companies and managers in the self storage and auction industries. If you have an interesting story to tell about renting storage, attending auctions, or succeeding in the storage business, and you’d like to obtain some valuable exposure to interested readers and potential customers, please contact us today with your article ideas. We’ll discuss particulars with you and ensure your post gets the maximum exposure possible.

All guest posts will remain on the front page in the featured section for an extended period of time, increasing their likelihood of being seen. If you are looking for an excellent opportunity to showcase your business and offerings, this is it! We will accept a wide variety of topics and styles, so long as they meet our quality criteria and remain on theme by discussing self storage, offering tips and tricks to managers or renters, or relating important information about the world of storage auctions.

Self storage company guest posting can bring about a dramatic boost to your overall traffic and can therefore boost your rental rates and revenue. I offer a generous policy of self-serving links to all guest posters, so you can be sure that your writing efforts will be rewarded by increased visibility and credibility within the eyes of your customer. All you have to do is come up with an original piece of writing, of at least 500 words, that informs or entertains. The topic itself is open to you. Discuss something you have experienced throughout the course of doing business as a self-storage company. Discuss lessons you’ve learned as a property manager; what works and what doesn’t. Discuss how storage auctions have impacted your business and how you think self storage companies should be positioning themselves so as to maximize their benefit from these special sales.

When you’re ready to get seen and start receiving more targeted traffic to your site and business, get in touch with us today to discuss your article submission.

Cutting a Disc Lock with an Angle Grinder

This is by far my least favorite task to do while working as a self-storage property manager. A customer comes into the office, frantic because they have totally all their keys to their unit’s lock, and further agitated by the fact that they have to get in right now. Not only does this job drag you away from the office but it can involve an obnoxious amount of preparation.

If your self storage property doesn’t have a ample power outlets throughout (and many of the older properties do not) then you’re looking at laying out however many extension cords it will take to reach from your main power outlet (usually in the office or just outside it) to the unit the tenant needs to get into (usually as far from the office and single power outlet as possible). Your tenant is frantic and upset. You may have been working on other things. If you decide to cut the disc lock for them right then, you need to lay the cords, find the facemask to guard against the shower of sparks that will fly up, and get your angle grinder prepared.

Tenants, if you buy a disc lock to secure your storage unit, do not, I repeat – do not, ever lose your keys to it. Just don’t lose your keys! If you do lose your keys to a disc lock, you can prepare to pay a hefty lock cutting fee. Some property managers will be cool about helping you out with a simple padlock, since these can be snapped off pretty quickly with a pair of decent bolt cutters. Don’t expect the same treatment if the lock you’re insisting they cut this very minute. Expect, instead, to pay the full lock cutting fee, which is usually $25-50. You can also expect to get hit up for a new lock before leaving the property, since most managers will insist that your unit is locked at all times.

How to Cut a Disc Lock with an Angle Grinder

If you’re the lucky property manager that gets to cut your frantic tenant’s disc lock, here are a couple of important tips you need to keep in mind to minimize your grinding time and any possibility of injury to yourself or others.

1. Always wear face protection. Of course you’re in a hurry to get your tenant into their locker so you can get them out of your hair. Wear a proper face mask anyway. If you don’t have one available, don’t cut the lock. If the tenant becomes problematic at this point, explain to them that although you are sorry for their error, by which they effectively locked themselves out of their own unit, you cannot perform the courtesy of cutting their lock for them without proper face and eye protection. The risk of getting a white-hot sliver of metal in your tender little eyeball simply isn’t worth the risk, especially to please a tenant that can’t even keep it together enough to hold onto their keys.

2. Be Conscious of Where You Lay Your Extension Cords

You can be pretty comfortable with your extension cords going over surfaces that you know people will need to drive over, especially if you’re using the heavy duty extension cords. What you need to be slightly more concerned about is who is around that could be tripping on them. If, for example, you have some current tenants using their drive-up unit and moving heavy boxes to and from their vehicle, they might not notice if you hastily lay some cable and then scamper off inside to grind down a disc lock. Imagine their surprise when they are struggling with a heavy box they can hardly see over just to be lassoed by a thoughtless loop of cord you left on the ground near their unit. This could very well be your fault and become a liability issue.

If you do have to put down extension cords when you have tenants on the property, make an effort to pop over and let everyone in the area know that you need to put down cords so they should watch their feet. Also explain that you will be grinding down a lock and you might not be able to hear them, and remind them to please keep their distance from where you’re working because there will be live sparks. Communication is key to keeping an area safe and making sure that your tenants, who could be tired or drunk or only focusing on finalizing their tedious move, know to steer clear of the cords and the sparks.

3. Grind the Disc Lock Down at its Weak Point

Once you get the hang of this, you can simply look at the lock and start grinding at the weakest point. Basically, there is one spot on the right side of the lock when you face it such that the keyhole is toward you.

As you can see, exploiting the weakest point of the disc lock requires an angled cut. This is the point at which the curved bolt actually touches nothing inside, a brief point of non-contact. If you can grind through this sweet spot, you essentially have only the thinner outer sheath of the lock to make it through before the lock will be completely compromised and will drop down to the floor.

Remember that the lock will be hot after several minutes of grinding, hot enough to burn you to the touch!

I usually let the lock sit on the ground if it has cleanly split and fallen to the floor after I make it through with the angle grinder. If you’ve pretty much beat the lock with the angle grinder but it’s still clinging on, you can usually seal the deal by giving it a strong straight kick with the sole of your shoe.