As we approach the end of the 2009 first quarter, we're seeing several legislative issues come to the surface for self-storage operators in particular states. While ours is not an industry that is government regulated per se, we are still affected by statutory laws that drive the operation of our businesses. And this year, some managers and owners are going to find it more challenging than ever to function within the stipulation of the law.
In Maine, the issue of abandoned records is becoming fraught with peril as mortgage companies and others go under, leaving sensitive records left unclaimed in storage. Earlier this month, a public hearing took place that could have serious impact on self-storage businesses in the state. The session addressed SP 130, LD 366, “An Act to Protect Confidential Consumer Records in Self-Service Storage Facilities,” which would require extensive administrative procedures on the part of self-storage operators. [More info: Maine Self Storage Operators Battle Issues of Abandoned Records, Confidentiality]
In Virgina, self-storage operators may be asked to assist the tax man in collecting dinero. Del. Ben Cline has proposed House Bill 2289 that could remove a tax shelter enjoyed by some boat and RV owners, the result of which is storage operators may have to provide their local commissioner of revenue with the names of out-of-state residents who park vehicles in their outdoor storage areas. [More info: Virginia Self-Storage Operators May Help to Out Tax Evaders]
Yesterday, we posted a press release relating to potentially changing lien laws in the state of Oregon. Proposed House Bill 2911 would require self-storage operators to dispose of tenant goods that go to lien sale but receive no bids “in a manner reasonably intended to realize proceeds close to market value of property.” In addition, if the goods are eventually sold for more than the amount of the lien, the operator must hold the balance for the tenant for two years and, if still unclaimed, fork it over to the Department of State Lands. [More info: Proposed Oregon Bill Complicates Lien Sales for Self-Storage Operators]
These are but a few examples of the potential legislative heartache on the horizon for managers and owners in this business. Now more than ever, it is critical that you partner with and support your state self-storage association. If the association is doing its job, it will lobby for your interests, working with bill sponsors and legislators to create laws that help rather than harm the industry. If there is no association in your state (and few states do not have one), reach out to the national Self Storage Association. To view a complete list and get contact information for state associations, visit the association page of the ISS Buyer's Guide.
A note on South Dakota: Good news for storage operators in South Dakota this month, as legislation enforcing a sales tax on self-storage no longer applies. Facility owners even have until Oct. 1, 2009, to apply directly to the Department of Revenue and Regulation for a refund on sales tax charged. For details, read "Refunds on Self-Storage Sales Tax Available in South Dakota."
So, what's happening with legislation in your area? Please share with our blog readers. The more informed we all are, the easier it will be to battle governmental threats.