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The ISS Blog provides a series of insightful, industry-relevant posts to help readers keep abreast of the latest trends in the marketplace as well as premium content and educational offerings. Read the thoughts of the ISS content team and other industry experts on issues related to self-storage challenges, news, operation, development, marketing and much more.

Teri L. Lanza,
Vice President

Tony Jones,
Contributing Editor/Store Manager

Amy Campbell,

Legal Mistakes Can Be Costly in Self-Storage … in More Ways Than one

By Teri Lanza Comments
Posted in Blogs

U.S. author Elbert Hubbard once said, “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” That’s all well and grand, but we’ve all made mistakes we wish we could erase, like the night of the four martinis at T.G.I. Friday’s. I’ll say no more about that.

In self-storage as in most businesses, mistakes can be chalked up to “experience” and viewed as a learning opportunity, but they can also have a long-reaching effect that damages public image and company profitability. I’m thinking specifically in terms of legal blunders that lead to expensive lawsuits and bad press. Consider the 2009 case of Vartik Dubey vs. Public Storage Inc. in which the Supreme Court awarded significant punitive and additional damages to a tenant whose goods had been wrongfully sold. The verdict total upheld by the Court of Appeals was more than $1.2 million.

Ouch! That’s an expensive learning experience, and it cost the company more than just money. It cost time, energy and public support, as the company was not particularly sympathetic to the customer’s plight.

But lien sales are not the only area in which self-storage operators face risk. Our business is fraught with opportunity for legal errors, many of which can be pricey. On Tuesday, Sept. 20, industry legal expert Jeffrey Greenberger will present the next installment in the 2011 Legal Learning webinar series: “The Most Expensive Legal Mistakes You Can Make as a Self-Storage Operator.”

Jeff is a moderator for Self-Storage Talk, on which he regularly members’ legal questions and concerns. Online discussions in this forum reveal that operators are regularly stumped by touchy issues pertaining to big changes in tenant’s lives, for example a divorce or bankruptcy. On Tuesday, Jeff is going to answer important questions that will help managers and owners avoid lawsuits relating to tenant death, divorce, disablement or bankruptcy. He’ll talk about power of attorney, estate management, probate orders, restraining orders, bankruptcy chapters and more.

If you haven’t yet registered for the Legal Learning webinar series, there’s still time. For only $15 each, you get access to three valuable events including the archived webinar, “What’s Wrong With Your Self-Storage Lien Sales Since the Advent of Reality TV?,” Tuesday’s installment, and the Nov. 15 legislative roundup and legal Q&A.

Have you ever made a legal or other operational mistake at your facility that you came to regret? Or managed (thankfully) to rectify? To you seasoned owners and managers out there, what advice would you give to your fellow operators to help them avoid expensive errors? Please share your experiences on the blog.


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