We Know: Tips on a Renting a Storage Unit

Why rent a storage unit?

People who move into smaller homes often rent a storage unit to keep things that they don't have room for, but still wish to keep. Others rent storage units when they're moving from one dwelling to another, and need intermediate storage. Some businesses rent storage units to keep materials and supplies when they can't afford a building expansion but have run out of space.

What does a storage unit cost?

Most storage unit companies charge a monthly fee. Fees are higher for larger units, and prices vary among companies for the same amount of space. Some storage unit companies charge a processing fee, so be sure to inquire whether there are additional fees. Late charges may also apply. Some companies offer a discount when you pay up front for several months' worth of rent. Plan ahead for how you'll stack items in the unit. By avoiding wasted space toward the top, you can make the most of a smaller space.

If you're need of packing materials, the storage unit company may sell them, but in most cases the prices are much higher than what you'd pay at an average store.

Are storage units safe and secure?

This varies widely by company and location. Many storage units have closed-circuit cameras on premise, and require keys to access the indoor facility. Outdoor storage units may be accessible to anyone who can pass through the main security gate, if there is one. Outdoor units are usually not temperature controlled, and may have limited protection from the elements. In other words, during a heavy rainfall or snowstorm, if the roof is leaking, your items inside will likely be damaged.

Read the fine print of a prospective storage unit company to determine if insurance of your property is included, and what the restrictions are. Know their policy on theft and damage. It's possible that if you have homeowner's insurance, that your property in storage is also covered, but verify that with your insurance carrier.

The other issue is your personal safety. Take precautions whenever possible, and don't assume that somebody on the premises has a right to be there. Try to avoid unlit areas and visit the storage facility in daylight hours as well as when there are more people around. Choose a storage unit facility that offers the most security measures, including working video cameras.

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