Last Thursday Maine Gov. Paul LePage signed Legislative Document 1428, "An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Self-Service Storage in the State," which includes improvements desired by the state's self-storage facility operators. The Maine Self Storage Association (MeSSA) and national Self Storage Association have led the effort to reform the statute. LD 1428:
- Repeals the newspaper-publishing requirement for a notice of sale.
- Defines "abandoned leased space," "electronic mail" and "verified mail."
- Adds all-terrain vehicles, off-road vehicles and recreational vehicles to the definition of "personal property."
- Determines that liens attach on the date the occupant leases the space.
- Allows the operator to access a delinquent storage unit after 45 days and make the determination of whether it has been abandoned and contains only trash or holds legitimate goods and should proceed to lien sale.
- Explains how to deal with motor vehicles; the self-storage operator may have the motor vehicle towed with no liability to any party.
- Revises the lien-notice requirements. Operators previously had to send two notices, one via Certified Mail and the other via First Class Mail. Operators must still send two notices, but the allowable methods have changed. One can be sent by any method that provides for verification of mailing, and the other can be sent by e-mail or First Class Mail.
- Reduces the amount of time that operators must hold a sale-proceeds balance from an indefinite period to only 90 days.
- Sets the maximum liability of the self-storage operator.
- Gives the operator the right to immediately take possession of the leased space and dispose of property if the occupant abandons the space.
“Right from the beginning, we were very confident,” said Rhonda Hallett Pope, MeSSA president. “We’re very excited about this. It makes things much more clear and easy to follow, and it will save [self-storage operators] a whole lot of money.”
Though a lot of people contributed to the successful journey of the new legislation, including Rep. Jon Courtney, the senate majority leader and lead sponsor of the bill, Pope especially credits MeSSA Vice President Mark Adler, who devoted a lot of time and energy to working with lobbyists on the effort.
Detailed information about the bill can be found at www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/display_ps.asp?snum=125&paper=SP0442&PID=1456.
This year new self-storage legislation has been passed in California, Illinois, Nevada and Tennessee. Other state self-storage associations are also pursuing modifications.