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The Risks of Sale and Disposal: Words of Caution and Guidance for Self-Storage Operators

Michael Rice Comments
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Special Considerations for Vehicles

When your lien sale includes vehicles, beware. When faced with auctioning a boat, car, truck, motorcycle, RV, trailer, etc.—essentially any property for which ownership is demonstrated by a title filed with the authorities in your state—it’s important you know and understand your legal obligations regarding the sale of such items.

Some insurance companies have defended cases in which the insureds have been sued by people who purchased vehicles at lien sales. In these cases, the purchasers discovered the vehicles they bought could not be titled to them because they were under lease and, therefore, not owned by the tenant who was in arrears.

In the event that you intend to conduct a lien sale involving a motor vehicle or any other form of titled property, contact the proper authority―whether it’s your state’s motor-vehicle department or other agency―to obtain and understand the local rules regarding such a transaction. Most states have notice requirements that may be far different from those contained in the state’s self-storage lien laws. In addition to the lien laws and consumer-protection statutes, the motor-vehicle regulations may impose completely separate but required rules regarding these transactions. 

Dealing With Abandoned Records

If you find a unit that appears to contain records, immediately consult with a knowledgeable attorney or the appropriate state agency prior to selling or disposing of any boxes or documents. As a self-storage owner, you don’t want legal liability imposed on you for personal or sensitive information that falls into the wrong hands.

In today’s economic uncertainty, it’s always wise to consult an attorney and your insurance agent to ensure your sale and disposal practices comply with applicable laws and limit your exposure to potential claims and lawsuits. Good risk-management practices contribute greatly to protecting your business and your bottom line. 

This article is not intended as specific legal advice and should not be substituted for the advice of an attorney who specializes in the self-storage industry. 

Michael Rice is the manager of claims for Phoenix-based MiniCo Inc., which provides specialty programs for self-storage businesses including property and casualty insurance and tenant insurance. For more information, call 800.528.1056 visit

Related Articles:

Managing Self-Storage Delinquencies, Bankruptcies and Abandonment

A Lesson in Self-Storage Value Limits and Wrongful Sale: Dubey vs. Public Storage

Determining How Long to Keep Tenant Files and Abandoned Records in Self-Storage

Abandoned Records in Self-Storage: Whose Responsibility Are They?

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