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Florida Governor Signs Update to Self-Storage Lien Law

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed an update to the state’s self-storage lien law on June 9 that enables storage operators to issue late fees, conduct lien auctions online, place value limits on stored items and have motor vehicles towed. House Bill 357 (HB 357) passed through the house and senate unanimously. It goes into effect on July 1.

A lien sale may be held online as long as it’s done through a website that “customarily conducts personal-property auctions,” according to the new language. The new law also allows storage operators to place a maximum value of stored contents based on value limits expressed in rental agreements, as well as assess late fees equal to the greater of $20 or 20 percent of monthly rent. Late-fee policies must be stated in the rental agreement or issued through an addendum.

HB 357 also allows operators to sell or have stored vehicles towed after default reaches 60 days.

Unlike other recent lien-law updates, the Florida measure doesn’t include a provision that would allow public notice of self-storage lien sales in a “commercially reasonable manner” other than the local newspaper. Operators must still publish public notices of lien sales once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where the self-storage facility is located. If no local newspaper is available, operators must post advertisements in at least three conspicuous places in the neighborhood around the facility at least 10 days before the auction.

Though HB 357 was supported by the Florida Self Storage Association (FSSA) and the national Self Storage Association (SSA), officials were disappointed that the state still hasn’t revised its public-notice provision. “As of now, Florida operators are forced to use newspapers, which results in an expensive, outdated and ineffective practice for both the operators and the tenants,” SSA officials said in a June 19 e-mail newsletter to its members. A pair of public-notice bills stalled in the house and senate last year.

The FSSA works to ensure the stability and growth of the Florida self-storage industry. It provides a forum through which members can increase knowledge, exchange information, and promote an established, unified voice, according to officials.

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