Making Small Changes to the Self-Storage Rental Agreement: Legal Tips for Facility Operators

Jeffrey Greenberger Comments
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Even if you have a solid rental agreement for your self-storage operation, the verbiage can become outdated and require minor adjustments. Fortunately, you can make small changes to your agreement without making substantial modification to the landlord/tenant relationship. 

This article doesn’t focus on large rental-agreement changes; nor does it explore small changes to the rules and regulations section of your agreement, because you likely already have a clause that addresses your ability to make those. Instead, I’ll discuss how operators can make minor lease changes that do not significantly alter their relationship with tenants.

For example, let’s say you’d like to clearly define what a “written notice” of change of address is. While you’d like all new customers to be bound by this change, you also want to address the issue with current tenants. This isn’t an item that would change the landlord/tenant relationship; it’s merely a clarification.

On the other hand, here’s an example of a change that would alter the owner/tenant relationship: In light of the recent verdict in the Dubey vs. Public Storage case, a wrongful-sale lawsuit in which the plaintiff was awarded a large settlement, some facility operators might consider adding tiered value limits to their rental agreement based on unit size. This is a larger change that would require a tenant’s written consent through an addendum or even a new agreement.
 
Notifying Tenants

Any self-storage operator who’s executed a rent increase already knows how to make a small change to a rental agreement. You can use the same format to notify tenants of other small amendments: Send tenants a letter that proposes the change and sets forth the language that will appear in the agreement.

You need to give the tenant at least one periodic rental term to accept or decline the new stipulation. If rent is due on the first of the month, send your notice before the first, reminding tenants of when their lease renews and explaining that the proposed change will go into effect. They have 30 days from the first of the month to accept or decline.

For tenants whose contract renews on the date they signed the lease, allow 60 days notice from the anniversary date. This ensures they have at least one periodic rental term to accept or reject the change. Note: Check your rental agreement for any language that may lengthen the amount of time you’re required to give tenants when you make a change.

In your written notice, state the change as if you were doing an addendum. For example:
 
Effective X date, Provision Y of the rental agreement will be modified to provide that “In order for Occupant to give Owner written notice of an address change or intent to terminate, said notice must be given in hand to the Owner at the office or via Certified Mail and may not be sent by fax or e-mail to be accepted.

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