Are you considering renting a storage unit? If so, you can tell your friends that you are “getting into America’s fastest-growing sector of real estate.” Well, actually your stuff will be in it, and most likely for a while. As you think about storage unit options, you’ll probably want to consider location, cost, and security.
Whether you are a first-timer or an old-timer, asking a few questions when you meet or call the self storage manager is always a good idea. Here are the top ten questions to ask the guy (or gal) in the storage facility office.
1. Is a lease required, or can I rent storage month-to-month?
A trend in storage unit rentals is a six- or 12-month lease. If this suits you, fine. If not, you may opt to rent on a month-to-month basis (which, in some cases, will be at a higher rate than if you committed to a long-term lease).
2. Does the facility require a code for entry?
I like the idea of the facility keeping track of who’s gone in and out, and when. Plus, it helps keep out people who should not be in. An entry code is an important first line of defense.
3. What are the hours of access?
You may pay a bit more for 24-hour access to your storage unit. If you can get by with more limited hours, you’ll probably save money on the rental cost.
4. Can I access my unit on a holiday?
Some storage facilities—especially those run by a manager who lives on site—are closed are major holidays. These might also be the same days you need to get that one thing out of your unit.
5. What’s the lighting like in the unit?
Some facilities are well-lit and even have electric outlets in the units or in the hallways that lead to the unit. In other cases, you’ll need a flashlight or camping lantern.
6. What types of payment do you accept?
I imagine that, over the next few years, an increasing number of storage facilities will take payments via Apple Pay and Google Wallet. Until then, you may be writing checks and mailing them in. So retro.
7. Can I pay my storage bill online?
This is, in my opinion, a huge plus. Ask ahead if you will be able to log in and see your payment history and schedule, as well as what types of payments you can use—debit, credit, e-check, PayPal, etc.
8. What are the late fees?
You don’t plan to be late with your payment but things happen. Find out what the grace period is (that is, the time from the due date until the day a late fee is charged) and what the fee will be.
9. Are pets allowed on-site?
Of course you aren’t going to store your pet! But if Fido comes with you everywhere you go, it’s good to know ahead of time if you’ll need to take him to doggie daycare when you pack and unpack your unit.
10. How’s your day going?
Your self storage manager deals with a lot of people who are in stressful situations: selling a home, moving, divorce, downsizing. Take a minute to say hello and ask how the manager’s day is going. It may seem awkward, but human kindness tends to go a long way—even in the fastest growing real estate sector in America.
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