Self-storage facilities are looking for other sources of revenue and better ways to use space. There is also a trend toward ancillary services not traditionally a part of self-storage. It's important to be aware of the different exposures, risks, legal and insurance requirements for these ancillary services to best serve your customers.
Most homeowner associations have restrictions on storing recreational vehicles. So, boat/RV owners look to self-storage. Building a section for boat and RV storage on land reserved for future expansion might make sense. This area can be devoted to total open spaces, canopies or enclosed buildings. Whichever way you go, here are some other considerations:
• Your contract should be specifically written for the storage of moving vehicles and boats. It should contain wording limiting or restricting the storage of hazardous fluids, gases and tires.
• Drip-protection should be mandatory for all vehicles. This should be included in your lease agreement. Contact your legal advisor for advice about this document and send a copy to your insurance company.
• You should always obtain a copy of the owner’s vehicle registration and insurance policy. Make certain that both items carry the same name as your tenant. Do not accept either if written to another individual/business. Also, establish a system to obtain copies of renewals to keep your files current.
• Photograph the vehicle when it is brought in to be stored. This can provide assistance in the event of a claim regarding the condition of the vehicle. Keep the photograph in the tenant’s file.
• Install crash posts around building corners. Make sure aisles are wide enough for a truck/trailer combination to move in and out of the assigned space.
• Since the vehicles are larger than normal, you might want special gate sensors. A truck pulling a trailer needs a longer period of time to pass through a gate.
• For outdoor storage, paint lines to avoid tenants crowding other tenants. Spaces should be numbered in sequential order and included in facility-management software.
• If possible, separate the boat/RV storage area from the storage of household goods due to the increased fire-load.
• State lien laws should be followed in the event of delinquency. Although it is never easy to dispose of a vehicle, many states have a way to re-title a vehicle. Find out if there is a lien on the vehicle. Your best line of defense is to consult an attorney.