Auditing Your Self-Storage Facility: A Checklist for Owners and Operators

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During your facility audit, a complete, detailed lock check should be conducted, and owners or supervisors should ensure the manager is doing weekly and daily walk-throughs and addressing any maintenance issues. Also make sure managers are moving tenants out of the computer system when they actually leave the property and not inflating your occupancy or rental income, which you’ll just have to write off later (after dealing with an angry customer who’s still being billed months after he’s moved out). 

Tenant Files

Owners should review several new leases (those signed during the last two months) and older leases, too. Any critical information missing from tenants’ files could be a major liability for you in the future if anything goes wrong or you need to auction the unit. Things to look for include: 

  • Complete and accurate data on the lease, including unit number, price, name, address, military status, emergency contacts and signatures
  • A copy of the tenant’s identification card
  • Completed and signed insurance forms, if you offer tenant insurance
  • Signed autopay forms, if you offer automatic credit card charging
  • Signed hold-harmless agreements, if you have access to the tenant’s unit
  • Proof of any special discounts given (referrals, for example) 

Other Office Activity

This is a great opportunity to follow up on your manager’s activities regarding lead follow-up and marketing. Check to make sure a good system is in place to track and follow up with potential customers. Discuss the marketing plan and make sure the necessary marketing tools are available. Double check your website to ensure it’s up-to-date and accurate.

You probably already have written procedures in case the computer goes down, and you need to audit those as well. Any manual receipt books should be analyzed during a property audit. Make sure you compare every manual receipt created since your last audit to the records in the digital and paper tenant files. You may want to call a few of the tenants who received manual receipts to verify their transactions.

Some owners have found managers using manual receipts for customers paying with cash, but then applying promotions in the computer and pocketing some of the cash. A quick call to the customer will bring those situations to light. If your software allows managers to make negative billings or delete billings, you’ll want to review all those transactions as well to ensure they occurred for legitimate reasons.

A good facility audit should also address manager reporting, including timesheets. Do the hours on the timesheet reflect the actual hours worked by the manager? Comparing timesheets to security-system logs, transaction times in the computer, or video surveillance will alleviate any problems.

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