By the time you have finished cleaning out your basement or packing up those holiday decorations, you might be ready to head to the nearest storage facility, fill out a little paperwork, and unload your car. Unfortunately, renting a unit without taking the time to do you research can cause problems later. Here are two questions you should ask storage unit managers before renting a space:
1: "How many burglaries have you had this year?"
Storage security is important, but unfortunately, some facilities take it more seriously than others. As you shop around, your primary concern should be finding a facility that cares about protecting its customers and their possessions. Here are some key security measures you should look for, and how they can ward off theft:
- Daily Lock Checks: To keep the facility safe and sound, some storage businesses ask their managers to conduct daily lock checks. In addition to looking for irregularities, regular, random inspections can discourage criminal behavior.
- Monitored Front Gate: When strangers can walk right up to storage units day or night, it might be easier to snap locks or watch tenants unload valuable merchandise. Look for a storage facility with a monitored, computer-controlled front gate that requires an access code. Some systems even work in correspondence with electronic storage unit doors, to keep existing tenants from opening units that aren't theirs.
- Customer Screening: Unfortunately, wandering criminals aren't the only people you have to worry about gaining access to your things. Some storage thefts are actually committed by existing tenants, who have access to the front gate and permission to be on the property. Ask storage managers how they screen potential tenants. For example, does the facility conduct a quick background check before doing business with tenants? If they do, your things might be safer.
After you build a rapport with on-site storage managers, ask them how frequently they experience burglaries. Keep in mind that only about 8.9% of storage facilities reported any instance of theft in 2012. This means that 91.1% of facilities experienced no theft at all. If on-site managers indicate that they have experienced recent or repeated problems with theft, you might be better off continuing your search elsewhere.
2: "How often do you raise rent prices?"
After you find the facility of your dreams, it might be frustrating to get a letter in the mail indicating a rental price increase. However, since storage unit pricing is based off of current market trends, availability, and facility finances, you might see a rental increase or two during your tenure as a storage customer. Before you rent, ask storage managers how often they raise rent. Storage managers might be able to give you a good idea of what to expect. For example, their boss might evaluate and adjust rents once or twice a year depending on market conditions. If rental increases sound like a possibility, ask about these things too:
- Notice: How much notice will storage managers give you if rents increase? Will you be notified via letter, email, or phone? If the facility offers enough notice, you might be able to move out or adjust your budget before that rental increase causes problems.
- Average Percentage: Sometimes storage facilities raise rents a set percentage each year. For example, your facility might raise rents 7% every spring. If this is the case, ask storage managers if they can give you an idea of what to expect. Some places only raise rents on units that are a popular size—leaving smaller or irregularly shaped units alone.
As you visit different storage facilities to research the policies, don't indicate that you need a storage unit right away. Instead, focus more on what the facility has to offer. If you aren't happy with a manager's answers, take note of their information and keep looking until you find a facility you are comfortable with.
For more information, contact local storage companies like Epic Group Inc.