June 1, 1998

7 Min Read
Drafting a Lease Addendum for Auto and Boat Storage

Drafting a Lease Addendum for Auto and Boat Storage

By Scott Zucker

Most self-storage rental agreements are written with the expectation of tenants storingpersonal property, such as household furnishings in enclosed storage units. Yet, more andmore facilities are offering their customers the opportunity of enclosed storage,roof-covered storage or parking-lot storage for cars, motorcycles, recreational vehicles,campers and boats. Unfortunately, where the rental agreements do not consider this type ofstorage, many of the potential liabilities of car and boat storage are left unrecognized.For those owners that have opened up their premises to vehicles and boats, especiallythose that allow this type of storage in enclosed spaces, they need to consider eitheramending their leases or creating addenda to their current leases to address theseliabilities and hopefully reduce their occurrence.

Incorporation of Addendum

First, in creating any addendum to a self-storage lease or rental agreement, it isimperative that language be included that incorporates the addendum into the rentalagreement that already exists. Such language would be placed on top of the addendum or insome other prominent location and would read: "Tenant agrees to be bound to the termsand conditions of this addendum as well as all terms and conditions of the rentalagreement. Tenant understands and agrees that this addendum is incorporated by referenceinto the tenant's rental agreement."

New Information

As compared to the general information needed from a customer who is storing propertywithout title, those tenants who are storing motor vehicles or boats must provide specificinformation to the facility such as a description of the vehicle/boat to be stored; itsyear, make, model and color; its license number and any type of vehicle identificationnumber (VIN) or serial number. This information is extremely helpful if, at a later time,the tenant fails to pay rent and a foreclosure and sale is required. The facility mustalso obtain information concerning any prior security interest or lien claims that applyto that property. The language in the addendum concerning that information would read:Tenant agrees to provide to owner all information of any and all parties holding anysecurity interests or liens on the property stored." The addendum should providespace for the tenant to name those parties and provide their addresses and phone numbers.


Certainly, there is a greater need for insurance on an item such as a car or a boatthan what might normally be required for household furnishings. Facility owners shouldpresume that the car or boat to be stored has considerable value and that claims arisingfrom the loss or damage to the tenant's property would be high. Therefore, there needs tobe a provision in the addendum specifically discussing the tenant's need for insurance.Additionally, the addendum should provide that the tenant will present to the owner copiesof all insurance documents for the motor vehicle or boat. It is strongly recommended thatthe storage facility not allow a tenant to store a motor vehicle or boat on its premisesunless the tenant can provide proof of suitable insurance for the replacement value of theproperty.

Risk of Loss

Although it is likely to already be contained in the tenant's rental agreement, it doesnot hurt to add an additional provision to the addendum reminding the tenant that thestorage of property is at the tenant's sole risk, and that the owner is not liable for anyloss or damage to the property while it is on the premises. As with any personal propertystored at self-storage facilities, the storage of motor vehicles and boats does notinclude any bailment over that property. Therefore, the facility does not assume anyresponsibility for the care, custody and control of the stored property. The addendumshould specifically state: "Tenant understands that owner is not a warehouseman or agarageman, and that nothing in this rental agreement or in the tenant's use of thepremises will be construed as constituting a bailment agreement between the owner andtenant."


When dealing with the storage of motor vehicles and boats, it is important to includein an addendum a provision restricting specific actions by the tenant on the premises withregard to the storage of that property. The tenant should agree not to conduct any repairsor renovations on the vehicles or boats. The tenant should agree to keep the vehicles indrivable condition and to keep trailers and other such vehicles road-worthy at all times.The addendum should also include certain rules for tenants to follow when dealing withmotor vehicles and boats, especially because of the potential dangers associated with thestorage of fuel or oil. The addendum should include the following rules:

  • Tenants are not permitted to run motor vehicles or boat engines inside the storage space except when entering or departing the space.

  • No portable fuel containers are allowed in the space.

  • All fuel tanks must be kept full at all times and must not have any leaks.

  • No smoking is allowed in any enclosed storage spaces.

  • Interior walls and floors must be protected from oil or spills.

Another provision that should be included in the rental addendum includes theunauthorized storage of vehicles and boats. The agreement should specifically provide thatthe only vehicle permitted to be parked in the assigned space or enclosed storage unit isthe one described in the rental agreement. The tenant should agree that any unauthorizedvehicles can be removed by the owner at the tenant's expense and that the owner will notbe liable to the tenant for the removal of such unauthorized vehicles.


Although referenced in the rental agreement, a reminder of the owner's terminationrights should also be included in the addendum. The owner should have the right toterminate the tenant's use of the space and require the tenant to remove its propertywithin five working days after written notice. If the tenant fails to remove its propertyas required, the owner should have the right to enter the tenant's space and remove theproperty without "being deemed guilty in any manner of trespassing orconversion."

Unfortunately, if a tenant does not respond to a termination notice, a facility ownershould not simply tow the property from the site. It may ultimately be necessary for anowner to obtain a court order to remove the tenant's property from the premises.Certainly, this termination provision should allow the owner to move the property toanother location on the premises in order to rent the space.

Foreclosure and Sale

Finally, the addendum should reiterate the owner's lien rights on the stored propertyin case of the tenant's default. The addendum should state in bold language that thetenant's property may be sold through public sale following the tenant's failure to payrent. Unfortunately, just as each state's self-storage laws are unique with respect to theforeclosure and sale of tenant's goods, state laws that apply to the foreclosure and saleof motor vehicles and boats are even more varied. Each state has its own law regarding howproperty that has title can be sold.

Many states allow titled property to be sold at public auction along with the tenant'sother stored personal property. The purchaser of the vehicle can then apply for a transferof title through the state's department of motor vehicles (or department of naturalresources). Other states require that certain information be provided to the court in thecounty in which the sale is held in order for the court to transfer title to thepurchaser. Other states do not allow such sales to occur unless title is first obtained bythe storage facility prior to the sale. In such cases where the facilities must firstobtain title before the property is sold, the facility commonly obtains it throughprocedures created for abandoned vehicles. Under this process, the facility makes anapplication to the department of motor vehicles or department of natural resources thatthe property has been abandoned and notice is given to the prior owner of the vehicle andall secured parties. Ultimately, if no response is given, the paperwork from the DMV isprovided to the court to allow the transfer of title to the storage facility.

It goes without saying that when dealing with the unique issues of storing motorvehicles and boats, additional documentation is necessary. A facility that stores motorvehicles, boats, RVs and motorcycles without a prior agreement as to certain terms andconditions of that storage- type, invites the inevitable question of "What did weagree to?" when property is stolen or damaged, or the tenant becomes delinquent. Withan addendum in place that specifically addresses the storage of motor vehicles and boats,facility owners and operators can feel more comfortable that when certain disputes arise,the questions can be answered.

An attorney who specializes in self-storage law, Scott Zucker is with theAtlanta-based law firm of Shapiro Fussell Wedge Smotherman & Martin. He is a regularcontributor to Inside Self-Storage magazine and a frequent speaker at the InsideSelf-Storage Expos and Trade Fairs. Mr. Zucker may be reached at (404) 870-2200.

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