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There is nothing worse than going back to your self storage unit after years of paying storage fees to find that your items have been damaged or even stolen. While this is very rare, and your chances of encountering such a loss are slim to none, the self storage industry does realize that there is a extraordinary possibility it could happen.
This rare possibility should not keep you up at night and you should not lose sleep over whether or not the items in your storage unit were damaged. To give you peace of mind, most reputable self storage properties offer additional insurance policies that renters can take out on their storage unit.
These policies protect the renter against loss due to negligence on the part of the storage manger or property. The cost is typically very low and there may be zero deductible, or a very small amount, making it more appealing than a homeowner’s claim may turn out to be. Sometimes, homeowner insurance will cover property stored offsite – other times it will not. If you aren’t sure what your homeowner policy will or will not cover, then the safest bet is to got with the storage insurance policy.
Unfortunately, crazy things can happen. One such fluke occurred recently in Hawaii. A tenant who held items in a storage unit over the course of several years seemed to have no interaction with their storage unit. After having maintained the rent of the space for several years, the tenants re-entered the space only to find that a leak had lead to water damage and worse, the growth of mold. This mold was determined to be toxic and as a result, many of the personal affects in the storage unit were unrecoverable.
It is the claim of the tenant that the leaky room was not disclosed or noted by the storage property. The tenant is suing the storage facility for negligence and fraudulent advertising.
This quote by the tenant’s attorney seems to be every self storage owner’s nightmare. “To advertise you take good care of people’s property establishes a warranty…certainly when they named themselves Aloha Storage”. It would appear as if the attorney is using a friendly business name as part of the grounds for the lawsuit by stating that a welcoming name advertises safety. Certainly, storage owners will not begin naming their properties ‘Store At Your Own Risk’ but it begs the question of what level of care is reasonable to expect from a storage provider.
Upon reading the initial report of this claim, one begs these questions. Did the storage property offer insurance to the tenants? Did they decline? Had they rented the unit and not returned until time of this claim? Could other tenants have been exposed to the toxic mold?
While this case is extreme, there may be some grounds if the self storage operator was negligent in repairing or maintaining the roof. However, cases like these are so rare because self storage owners understand their legal and moral responsibilities to provide a suitable environment for self storage. As a whole, this group of business men and women take the care of their facilities to be a top priority to protect their own investment and protect themselves against such claims.
What we can learn from this is that a tenant can protect themselves by choosing a high-end, well maintained storage property that appears to have no structures in a state of disrepair. Also, a tenant can take out additional insurance. And finally, even if a tenant does not need an item out of the space, it is a good idea to visit the unit a few times a year and inspect the unit. If any concern is seen, it should be reported to the manager immediately.
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