Self-Storage Businesses May Benefit From Hurricane Sandy, Some Facilities Offer Temporary Relief

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As emergency damage assessments begin to tally in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, self-storage operators near homes and businesses affected by the storm are readying for an increase in unit rentals. The need to safely store valuables and possessions often rises with catastrophic events because of damage to building structures. In some instances, self-storage operators are offering storm victims free use of units and other assistance.

“Demand for self-storage rises considerably as homeowners, contractors and local suppliers set about preparing for reconstruction,” said analysts David Toti and Gaurav Mehta of Cantor Fitzgerald, a capital markets investment bank.

Among the operations likely to benefit are the self-storage real estate investment trusts (REITs), which have a large presence along the eastern seaboard. These include CubeSmart, Extra Space Storage Inc. and Sovran Self Storage Inc., which does business as Uncle Bob’s Self Storage. Extra Space in particular has a large presence in affected areas, as much as one-third of its portfolio, according to Toti and Mehta.

“The storage needs generated by hurricane cleanup can last from six to 18 months then recede, which can set the stage for declining occupancies and more competitive pricing,” Toti and Mehta said.

Among the self-storage operators offering temporary relief is U-Haul International Inc. The company announced yesterday its centers across the Northeast are offering 30 days of free self-storage and use of moving pods to hurricane victims.

“U-Haul understands that high winds, rain and coastal flooding have significantly impacted many of our neighbors and their families across the Northeast," said Dennis O'Connor, vice president of self-storage operations and marketing. "As communities continue to pull together and execute emergency plans, U-Haul also will continue providing assistance to people during these times of uncertainty and need."

U-Haul officials said many of its centers in affected areas remain open for business and are equipped with supplies, including boxes, tarps, propane and propane tanks, that may be helpful during the recovery. In addition, the company’s Take a Box, Leave a Box program encourages anyone with any type of spare, reusable box to drop it off at the nearest U-Haul location to enable another family to reuse the box for free.

Also offering assistance is SpareFoot, an Austin, Texas-based self-storage aggregator. The company is offering a free month of storage to storm victims in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia. Those in need of a storage unit in the affected states can find one at SpareFoot.com. The company will reimburse customers’ first month of storage rent up to $100 while supplies last. Customers must move in their belongings by Nov. 5 and e-mail SpareFoot a copy of their storage lease or receipt to be eligible.

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