What Would You Do? Tips for Managing Your Self-Storage Mulah

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Bledsoe: We would review the tenant’s account to see if there’s a history of being late or if he’s offered this same type of reason for not paying rent in the past. If it’s the first time this issue has come up, or if he’s had issues in the past and brought his account current, we would offer several resolutions. First, we may ask the tenant to pay a portion of the past-due rent and vacate to avoid this type of issue in the future. Second, we may identify a payment plan to bring the account current within 60 days, and the plan would be identified in writing. If the first two attempts fail to resolve the problem, we would move forward with the auction process per the state's required guidelines.

What would you do if you found money in a storage unit?

While your first response may be, “Jackpot!,” finding money in a unit is usually not something operators hope for. Much like finding a wallet on the floor at a grocery store, moral people will find they have an obligation to do right by the poor guy or gal who lost the greenbacks. “Try to contact the last tenant for that space. If unsuccessful in this attempt, declare a special bonus for the employees of the facility. Personally, trying to split $.58 among employees is tricky,” Taylor jokes.

All kidding aside, SST member Satyra From PhoneSmart says it really depends on the amount. “Petty cash could be taken care of with a follow-up call to the owner of the unit. A large sum of money definitely needs to be forwarded to the authorities, and if it does rightfully belong to the owner of the unit, then they'll have proof of where they got it from.”

When it’s a unit scheduled to go to auction, storage experts agree, the money stays in the unit and the auction buyer is the lucky one. List T., an SST senior member, said she found a 5-gallon water jug brimming with change in a unit scheduled for auction. The amount was even enough to pay the storage debt. “Unfortunately, we couldn't get the tenant to answer his phone, return a phone call, respond to an e-mail, etc., to get permission to pay his past due rent with the change, which I was willing to roll up and take to the bank to help him out. So the jug got auctioned off with the rest of the unit when the time came.”

What SHOULD you do?

Appleby: The only way an operator would find money is if it was lying around in the unit when the lock was cut for auction, which only happens on TV. Money in the unit will belong to the owner of the unit or the bidder who purchases the unit. Occasionally, it is the police that arrives with a search warrant when large sums of money are suspected to be in a unit. This is drug or counterfeit money. The authorities will determine what happens to that money.

Ballard: This would depend on when and how the discovery was made as to which actions are necessary. If after the customer moved out and left money, I would be shocked and have never heard of this happening. However, if discovered while auctioning a unit, I personally sell the entire contents as one. This is great for the new owner, but I have not had this happen either, with the exception of a coin collection and the bidder was very happy.

If we feel the money is counterfeit or possibly involved in some sort of illegal activity, we first call our attorney for explicit instructions. If the manager finds change on the floor at move-out, he’s certainly welcome to it as the customer was responsible for taking everything out and left it there.

Bledsoe: If the unit was recently vacated, the tenant would be contacted to see if the money belongs to him. The manager would contact the district manager to notify him of the money that was found. The property manager would be required to make a “special deposit” in the property bank account with only these funds on the deposit slip. The additional funds would be identified by our accounting department in the event that someone may attempt to claim them in the future.

To read more great content in the ISS "What Would You Do?" business-challenges series, type code WWYD13 in the search box at insideselfstorage.com.

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