My last blog entry was about facility rules and regulations and what you, as an operator, need to do to prevent tenants from storing all the things they shouldn't, like chemicals, drugs and corpses. But as we all know, there really is no limit to what people will stockpile in their units, particularly as they assume you'll never know the difference.
If you attended Tuesday's Legal Learning webinar, presenter Jeff Greenberger discussed the things that belong in your lease vs. your facility rules and regulations sheet. In general, the larger, more significant items go into the rental agreement; and the more incidental stuff, like gate hours and the dumpster policy, are covered in the rules/regs. The goal in either case is to make your store policies ENFORCEABLE should a situation involving the law arise.
I'm sure I don't have to tell you why this is important. But just for fun, by way of example, let's take a look at an extremely sensationalist article that was recently published in the Ohio News-Herald. Reporter David Jones basically unveiled a laundry list of no-no items that have been discovered in storage units throughout Northeast Ohio:
- Meth labs
- Chop shops
He also mentioned some famous finds from across the nation:
- Approximately 200 pounds of explosives and firearms, which consequently led to the arrest of Mourad "Moose" Topalia, accused of terrorist activity and convicted of trafficking in his stored goods (1996).
- A dead husband in a freezer in Somerville, Mass., found after 13 years of storage.
- The bodies of three murdered women in barrels in Missouri, which have been tied to the Kansas "Slavemaster" rape cases.
- Neary $10 million worth of Ecstacy that had been smuggled into Brooklyn by a Chinese mob boss.
Neither your lease nor your facility rules and regulations are magic. They will not stop criminals in their tracks and, in most cases, they won't even stop ignorant or careless tenants from stupidly storing inappropriate stuff, like their grandmother's ashes and other highly sentimental/irreplaceable items. But get your prohibitions in writing nonetheless. At least then, when the fit hits the shan, you'll have gone on record as stating the types of goods your business does not welome on site.
I would LOVE to hear from operators out there about the most unusual items they've found stored in their units. Let's hear it!