The Self Storage Association of the United Kingdom (SSA-UK) has issued a warning to facility operators about a video scam officials believe could encourage customers to rent units with the intent of living or sleeping in them. The e-mail message sent to members this month was prompted by a YouTube post that garnered media attention and, subsequently, hundreds of thousands of views.
Oliver Kuiz posted a 12-minute video on April 2 in which he claims to have lived in his storage unit for two months to stay out of the winter cold. Though it only received about 4,100 views on Kuiz’s YouTube channel, it was picked up by the “Daily Mail” Facebook page where it’s been viewed 1.8 million times and shared more than 1.4 million times, according the SSA-UK.
The self-storage facility where Kuiz rented conducted an internal investigation through its closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage and access logs, and determined the video is false. Though Kuiz visited his unit in the evenings, evidence suggests he was never there overnight, SSA-UK officials said.
“Our concern is that the publication of this video may encourage copycat YouTubers or other people to attempt to sleep in self-storage units,” SSA-UK officials said. “Please be vigilant in checking your security systems overnight to ensure you do not have customers sleeping in self-storage units. In particular, look for people that are logging in at night but not out until the next morning. If you have alarmed units, look for units that are disarmed for extended periods. Also, check any CCTV [footage] that has been activated overnight.”
Association officials also reminded members that sleeping in a unit is grounds for immediate lease termination and poses a safety risk. “It is very uncommon for people to sleep in storage units, but when it does occur, it poses a significant risk to both the store and the customer, particularly in regards to the threat of fire,” officials wrote.
Since producing the original video, Kuiz has posted 10 other self-storage-related videos to his channel. This is the second time he’s claimed to have lived in a storage unit. In 2018, he produced a similar series of 20 videos. The first in that series, also posted on April 2, has received nearly 1.2 million views. In all, he’s posted nearly 500 videos since June 2016.
Kuiz, 19, claims to have been periodically homeless since 17 and indicates on a GoFundMe page that he suffers from Asperger syndrome, anxiety and depression. He’s currently trying to raise £2,500 to buy a car and trailer in which to live. He claims to have lived in a self-storage unit in 2018 to save money to buy a van, which he says is now too small for his needs.
The SSA-UK is the trade association for the self-storage industry in the United Kingdom. Its mission is to support member operators and vendors, promote best business practices, and raise public awareness.