ISS Blog

It's Time to Know What You Don't Know ... Preventing Legal Ills in 2012

Getting answers to critical self-storage questions isn't always easy, but it's certainly simpler when you know the right things to ask. Do you? Take legal issues, for example ... Perhaps the next quandary you face in your self-storage operation will be one you don't have the knowledge to anticipate. It's a common business conundrum: You often don't know what you don't know.

Can you refuse to accept partial payments from your self-storage tenants? Is there such a thing as a one-page self-storage rental agreement? Should you have a separate contract for your vehicle-storage customers? What do you with auction-proceeds overage if  you can't locate the tenant to deliver it? Should you check the contents of a delinquent unit for personal or prohibited items before sending the unit to auction?

These were among the questions asked this morning by attendees to the Legal Learning webinar with Jeffrey Greenberger. Today's session started with an overview of the year's successfully passed industry legislation, then segued to an open Q&A period during which self-storage owners and managers could get expert advice on the issues that most plague their business. Lien sales and related policies, laws and practices top the list of items that keep them awake at night, followed by the particulars of rental agreements, and best practices surrounding customer privacy and payments. Other hot buttons include the right of the operator to refuse service, changes to auction procedures in the wake of reality TV, value limitations and others.

Getting answers to critical operational questions isn't always easy, but it's certainly simpler when you know the right things to ask. Do you? Perhaps the next legal quandary you face will be one you don't have the knowledge to anticipate. It's a common business conundrum: You often don't know what you don't know.

That's why industry education and communication is so important. By keeping in regular contact with industry experts and colleagues and learning all you can about self-storage, you can better understand the common challenges you're likely to encounter in the course of running your facility. In terms of legal information, you have several options for keeping well-versed:

1. You can read the articles regularly published in Inside Self-Storage magazine and on Pay particular attention to the Legal topics page.

2. You can participate in Jeff's Legal Learning webinar series, produced annually by ISS. This is a great way to access timely information from the comfort of your own computer.

3. You can purchase the legal courses designed by the Self-Storage Training Institute. Like live webinars, these on-demand, online classes allow you to access information where and when it's most convenient for you.

4. You can contact your local or national self-storage association. These organizations work hard to keep atop of governmental issues, spearheading appropriate legislation and informing members of important changes.

5. You can connect with peers in the legal forum of Self-Storage Talk, the largest online community of industry managers, owners and other professionals.

6. You can consult an attorney who specializes in the self-storage industry, such as Jeff, Scott Zucker or Carlos Kaslow.

7. Finally, you can attend live education events, such as the Inside Self-Storage World Expo, where experts like Jeff and Scott frequently speak and share their insight with attendees. In fact, ISS and Jeff have just launched a brand new seminar opportunity about which we are very excited. The new Legal Learning Roadshow will bring Jeff to select U.S. cities to present a full day of intensive legal information you can't afford to miss. The show's first stop is Jan. 13 in Scottsdale, Ariz. It's the perfect opportunity for you to figure out what you don't know about the legal side of self-storage. Even those of you who have attended past workshops with Jeff will learn new things in during this expanded, comprehensive event.

Looking ahead to 2012, prevention is the best medicine for the legal ills you suffer or might catch. It's time you know what you don't know. Get the knowledge you need to avoid risk, ask the right questions, and make the changes and decisions in your business that will help you sidestep painful litigation.

What are the top three self-storage legal questions swimming about in your head as you operate your business these days? Post them here to the blog. I'll pass the most common questions on to Jeff and post the answers in an upcoming blog installment. Ask away!

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