It’s another case of self-storage he said, she said. Distraught about water damage to their unit, a couple contacted a local news station to put the pressure on a self-storage facility in Oildale, Calif. Beverly Stewart and Todd Lee rented a unit at A-American Self Storage for more than a year, but had fallen far behind on payments. They had also lapsed on their renters insurance.
As the collection process progressed, the couple pulled together the self-storage past due amount and once again had access to the unit. But they found their stuff, including photo albums, heirlooms and a family bible, had been seriously damaged by water and mold.
While A-American claims the roof had been repaired, the couple insists the water had been seeping into the unit for a while. A-American reps said when they took a picture of the unit, they found no water damage.
While there’s no way to know what really happened, the damage has been done, and I’m not just talking about the couple’s stuff. There will definitely be damage to the self-storage facility’s reputation as well. Their name was negatively splashed across the evening news. Words like “family heirlooms and bible” tend to stick in peoples’ minds. So even if the facility was in the right—down to the letter—it doesn’t really matter. What’s an operator to do?
First, be sure roofs and doors are in mint condition. For more on maintenance and repairs, check out the extensive ISS article archives. Second, insist on renters insurance and make it easy for your tenants to obtain it. Many insurance companies writing self-storage insurance now have policies covering losses due to mold and dampness. Even though a priceless family heirloom, like Aunt Sarah’s homemade book of poetry, can never really be replaced, a few bucks from an insurance policy might ease the sting a bit.
Lastly, check your insurance coverage. Lawsuits happen. Make sure you’re covered before they do.
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