There are not too many businesses that can say that they have experienced growth during the current economic climate, but the self storage industry is one of them. For a variety of different reasons, more and more people have found that they needed someplace relatively safe to keep their belongings. As that number of people grew, so did the self storage industry.
One issue that self storage owners and operators have had to deal with as a result of the economy is bill collecting. A lot of people put their belongings into storage because they are downsizing their living arrangements, and regretfully continue to suffer economic hardship.
The process that is in place to give self storage owners and operators reparations has been popularized the last couple years in television shows like “Storage Wars” and “Auction Hunters.” However, just like much of what is portrayed on ‘reality television,’ the entire picture is not told.
Having to go through the process of putting a lien on someone’s property is not something that self storage operators look forward to. In some states, the process is still a tedious one with a number of hoops for the operator to jump through (i.e. notification, advertising, etc.). A lot of states have enacted reforms over the last year to simplify the process, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a desired outcome.
“My policy is we don’t cut locks until 50 days because I want to give people the time, at least a chance to pay up, because I really don’t want to sell them if I don’t have to,” said Joseph Niemczyk, a 30-year veteran of the self storage industry with around 35 facilities across the country.
“I think we give people as much chance as we can. You know we’re running a business, and I have to — I have to turn these units over so I can make a profit,” said Niemczyk.
Owners are not even guaranteed to make back what is owed them when a unit goes to auction, and they don’t make a penny off the sales other than what is owed them for past rent.
Auctions are not something anyone wants to do at a self storage unit, but they are a necessary part of the business. People that are thinking about renting a unit should make a point to ask what the facility does when you don’t or can’t pay your rent. Some owners are willing to come to arrangements if you communicate with them in an open and honest manner.
When it comes down to it, self storage owners don’t want your stuff featured on an episode of “Storage Wars” any more than you do.
“Storage Unit Auctions Usually a Last Option for Owners.” CBS Denver; 19 July 2011.
“Self Storage Reality TV is Anything But, SO Managers Beware.” Self Storage Investing; 13 July 2011.