Would your facility be able to take a half-million-dollar lawsuit hit? Lawyers specializing in the self-storage industry agree that the legal framework for any operation begins with the rental agreement. Although thats not news to most owners, many fail to review their agreements and neglect making updates to reflect the evolution of self-storage law.
Are you familiar with the lien law in your state? Does your contract follow applicable laws to a T? Do you spell out your system for late payments, delinquencies and auctions? Does your agreement address mold, mildew and other liability concerns?
Do you review current self-storage lawsuits to make sure you understand court decisions and how they may reflect on your rental agreement? If you dont (and who really has the time?), its in your best interest to confer with an attorney who can.
For starters, check out Scott Zuckers article, Rental Agreement Reviews, page 40, required reading for any operator no matter how long in the business. As a self-storage lawyer, Mr. Zucker is all too familiar with tainted contracts and distraught self-storage owners being taken through the wringer. The good news is just a little tweaking here and there may be all you need. Just be sure the tweaking is by the hand of a well-informed counselor.
If not, you could find yourself in a legal whirlwind and then what? Beginning on page 46, Jeffery Greenberger maps out all the steps in his article, Taking the Sting Out of Lawsuits. The best way to fight a lawsuit, according to this seasoned legal expert, is to never have one happen in the first place. But if you do, make sure to work within the legal system, meeting all requirements and deadlines as dictated by the suit.
Of course, the pages within this issue have much sage advice for preventing lawsuits and protecting your business through specialty insurance coverage. Make sure you evaluate your business needs wisely so that, no matter what, you always come out smelling like a rose.
Drew G. Whitney