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Living in a Box

Amy Campbell

August 22, 2007

3 Min Read
Living in a Box

It's not unheard of for a person to be living in a storage unit, and it's not always a homeless person or a prostitute or some criminal on the lam. I well remember, back in college, dating a guy who bunked out in his band's rented practice space after he and his roomates were ousted from their apartment. (In fact, on any given night, there was many a colorful character who could be found drooling a fresh puddle into the stained carpet remnant the band used to "absorb sound.") But never before have I heard of someone who merely claimed to live at a storage facility for crooked political purposes.

A recent articlein The Jersey Journal exposed a Jersey City, N.J., "community relations specialist" who allegedly proferred the address of a storage facility as her residential address for voter registration. When questioned, the facility manager said he did not know her and the site was not zoned for apartments. The story is riddled with complexity and drama, including the possibility of illegal apartment rentaland more than one individual in residence. But with so many "anonymous" sources in the story, who knows if any of it holds water.

But it got me to thinking about the evolution of storage facilities and how blossoming amenities and improved aesthetics might make them more enticing than ever to anyone looking for an alternative abode. Think about it ... we encourage operators to market to commercial and business customers because they rent larger units and tend to pay on time. But they also spend a great deal more time on site, sometimes making several daily visits to drop off or pick up inventory. Seeing a familiar face on the property every daymaybe even drinking coffee at his refreshment center every morninghow would a facility manager know if he was dealing with a hard-working business owner or a live-in tenant?

I know it sounds far-fetched. But I don't doubt several of you have estranged spouses, broke college students or members of the general League of the Lost taking nightly refuge in one of your units. You may even be providing them with electricity, restroom access, bottled water, Internet service and more, depending on your particular amenities.

Yeah ... some of you are shaking your heads. Others of you have a very specific customer in mind right now. You're thinking about that very friendly "landscaper" who stores his "lawn equipment" and is always on site at the crack of dawn, with his 5 o'clock shadow and wrinkled t-shirt. You know the one I'm talking about.

I'd love to hear stories from managers who have had to politely school a tenant about the appropriate use of a storage unit, i.e., who have evicted a "resident." You don't have to share your name or your facility name, just the tale itself. Post it to the blog or e-mail it to me at [email protected]. And remember as your offering upscale features such as carpeting, shelving and lighting, you may be doing a lot more than delighting your legitimate customers. The onus is on you to ensure the facility is not being misused or abused.

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Editor, Inside Self Storage

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