I Don’t Want to be in Storage Wars!

Posted by on Feb 11, 2015 in Storing Belongings | 0 comments

If you have ever caught an episode of the television show Storage Wars, then you have probably been fascinated by what people put in store. You may even have cheered for the buyers who happened on a rare or expensive find. However, have you ever stopped to think about the original owners of those items, and what they must be feeling about other people pawing over their personal possessions?

We already know that self-storage companies can auction off units that have been abandoned by their owners, otherwise there wouldn’t be a Storage Wars show. Legally, you grant the storage company a lien on the items that you place in self-storage the minute you sign the lease. This gives the storage company the right to sell the unit’s contents in case you don’t pay them the monthly rent. However, it doesn’t mean that if you are a day late in paying that they can just go in there and get your stuff. They have to follow a certain procedure that gives you the opportunity and time to address the issue so you can keep your things. There are state differences, but this is the typical timeline leading up to the actual auction.

  • Definition of default – you are in default when your contract lease says you are, so you need to know what is in there. The typical grace period is 5 days, but some allow up to 30 days before you are considered in default. At that point, the company can deny you access to your unit (presumably to prevent you from taking out your stuff) until you pay for what is past due.
  • Notifying the owner – the storage company has to send at least one letter of notice to you, the unit owner detailing the past due amount, late and other fees, and a scheduled auction date. The notice does not have to be via postal mail; many states allow email notices.
  • Informing the public – the next step is to post a public announcement about the scheduled auction in a conspicuous manner. This may include a poster near the storage company premises, twice in the local rag, or on a specific website. This will depend on what the state requires. Typically, the date of the auction is from 30 to 90 days after default.
  • Storage wars – You have until the day of the auction to pay up and stop them from selling your items. After your unit has been auctioned off, however, it’s game over. Your stuff is getting fifteen minutes of fame.

Storage companies are not in the business of selling other people’s property. They would much rather you pay off what you owe. They use the money they get from auctioning off the unit contents to cover what you owe them, but they don’t actually profit from it. If the unit goes for more than that, the company will usually notify you and you can claim it within a specific period.

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