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Self-Storage Technology and Regulatory Compliance: Laws for a Digital Age

By Scott Zucker Comments
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For seasoned self-storage veterans, walking around an industry tradeshow can be pretty eye-opening. Over the last few years, operators who were used to the brick-and-mortar simplicities of the business have witnessed a technological revolution. The list of advancements has lengthened as established vendors have created new tools and new entrepreneurs have entered the market with creative products, changing the way we do business.

As technology becomes a larger part of the self-storage world, not only must owners and managers adjust their operation to accommodate these changes, they must address related issues of legal compliance. Here’s how to stay within the confines of the law when using popular new tools.

E-Mail and Texting

E-mail and texting have facilitated the way we communicate with customers. Most significantly, they have reduced the delay inherent with snail-mail notification. Industry studies have confirmed these communication methods are considerably more efficient. Thus, delinquencies are down, and operators have a more effective way to contact tenants if there’s an emergency or other occurrence that may affect their goods in storage.

E-mail has become such a great way to contact tenants that many state laws have been amended to include it as an approved method of communication. More than 20 states now allow the use of e-mail as a notification method in the lien-sale process.

That said, because the use of e-mail as a “legal notice” was previously untested, many states also included a requirement that the facility operator receive verification of e-mail delivery to the tenant’s designated address. In turn, registered delivery services like those offered by RPost have become more commonplace. If an e-mail is proven to be undelivered to the tenant, the law requires a secondary notice be sent by mail to his physical address.

When it comes to texting, federal law requires the tenant give consent to receive texts, especially those that are automated. The easiest solution is to simply add a provision to the rental agreement permitting communication via text.

Electronic Contracts

Though remote and after-hours facility operation has been possible in the self-storage industry for a while thanks to various automation tools, we’re starting to see the integrated use of electronic contracts and signatures. Operators are increasingly adopting these technologies, allowing tenants to sign a lease and move into a facility via a kiosk or mobile device.

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