DEAR WALDMANS: Why do people actually pay for a storage unit and never prepare
their goods for storage? Over and over again, tenants rent a unit in such a hurry you
would think the IRS is after them. They stuff the goods any which way into the unit, not
caring if things are covered or if some heavy piece of furniture is cramped on top of
another smaller item. I often wonder why they search for a unit when they really couldn't
care less about how they store their goods. Refrigerators seem to be the worst items. I
cannot tell you how often we have a very strange odor coming from a unit, only to find the
tenant has left food inside. What can we do about this situation? Do you have any good
solutions to this offensive problem?
--HOLDING OUR NOSE
DEAR HOLDING YOUR NOSE: You do speak the truth when you say it is hard to imagine why people pay for a unit and not take care of their goods. It's just like throwing money in the garbage. We have had units in which the stink from food was so bad it caused our other tenants to complain. When it gets to that point, we contact the tenants and explain the situation. You would think they would be so humiliated that they would hate to face us. Much to the contrary, they don't seem to think there is any real problem. So, we started explaining to our tenants in the beginning that they need to make sure all food and perishables are removed from their refrigerators and boxes before they occupy the unit.
This is a good way to face the problem up front so, hopefully, it does not even occur. Have a statement along with your contract that they have read and understand your policy. Make them sign it along with the signing of the lease. We have found that our refrigerator blues have decreased quite a bit since we advise tenants of this potential problem. It saves headaches in the long run for you and the tenant. To be honest, I think they really appreciate the help in the right and wrong way of storing. You have to remember a lot of people have never stored before and really don't know the first thing about it. I make sure my employees always offer tips when they feel the tips are needed. It's surprising how much your new tenants will love you for it.
A father-daughter team, the Waldmans are self-storage owners/operators and attorneys.
In addition, Ms. Waldman holds a master's degree in labor and employment law from
Georgetown University. The Waldmans are co-authors of the industry's leading series of
books on self-storage operations: Getting Started, Forms, Policies & Procedures and
South Carolina Tools. Another creation of Ask The Waldmans are their colorful posters
designed exclusively for the self-storage industry. Comments and questions for ASK THE
WALDMANS may be sent to: The Waldmans, P.O. Box 21416, Charleston, SC 29413.
Views and opinions on legal matters are those of the authors. Professional counsel should be obtained before any determination or positive action is taken.