You don't have enough room to store all your belongings, or your great-grandmother's china, or your son/daughter's dorm room futon, or the extra furniture you're saving for when your kids finally move out and get places of their own. Whatever the reason, you need a little extra storage space so you start looking around for a self-storage provider near your home. WAIT! Before you sign, make sure you ask these four questions, and consider our full list of 20 questions to ask when considering a self-storage facility.
Will my belongings be safe?
As you consider the right self-storage facility, security should be top on the list of must-haves. Obviously, you won't be there to make sure your belongings are kept safe and secure, so you will want to make sure that the storage facility takes security as seriously as you do. Here's your security checklist:
Is there good security fencing around the entire facility? You want to know that the facility is off-limits to people wandering through who might vandalize storage units or dump their trash.
- Is there one main, gated entrance or can people come in and out through multiple entrances? Multiple entrances are harder and more costly to secure and monitor.
- Is the entrance secured, requiring a code, key, or card to get in and out? Secure entrances allow the facility to know who is entering and exiting the premises.
- Are there security cameras and lighting throughout the property? Security cameras allow the entire facility to be monitored at all times. Have the manager show you that the cameras are working and that they are actually being monitored.
- Does each unit have their own alarm? Surprisingly, the biggest security threat is other renters. Making sure that only renters can gain access to the property and that all the security cameras work is not enough to ensure that you are the only person opening your rental unit. When each unit is individually alarmed, you have the added peace of mind that your belongings will remain safe and secure.
- Are the managers truly paying attention? The very best security systems available aren’t enough if the managers aren’t monitoring who’s coming and going and where.
Is the pricing fair and transparent?
Now that you're comfortable with the security of the storage facility, let's turn to their pricing practices. What is fair and transparent pricing? Here are some things to think about:
- You are paying money in exchange for a secure, clean space. Fair pricing is competitive pricing, but not necessarily the cheapest pricing. Security costs money, as does maintenance, upkeep, and professional management. So beware of the so-called $1 Move-in Special!
- If the price seems too good to be true…it just might be too good to be true. Does that low introductory pricing get your attention? Be on the lookout for what your monthly rate will be after the introductory period. Find out what extra fees are charged. The last thing you want is to end up paying more than you expected.
- Some facilities will raise rental rates with very little warning and have even been known to raise rates multiple times in a year. Ask what the earliest is there may be a rate increase and how often.
Late fees and other charges can also increase repeatedly so keep a close eye on your billing statement. It's important to know what the pricing policies are before you sign up and understand their policies for late payments. You don't want to find yourself locked out of your unit unexpectedly.
Is the storage facility clean and convenient?
Make sure that you get a tour of the facility and look at the general condition of the property. Does it look clean, or is there debris, leaves, or garbage lying around? Look at the rooflines and downspouts. Are they in good condition or are they broken, missing, or in need of maintenance? Signs of poor maintenance and upkeep should raise concerns about water leakage and other issues that may damage your belongings.
How about the hours? Will you be able to get access to your unit at convenient times, such as before or after work or on the weekends? You shouldn't have to plan your schedule around when you can get into your storage unit.
Who is on site managing the facility?
Maybe the better question is whether there is anyone onsite at all. Many facilities do not have onsite management, so if you have a question, your call is answered by someone in another state entirely. Onsite management is important for several reasons.
- If no one is there to watch the gate, the cameras, or respond to an alarm, how important is overall security?
If you have a concern or question, would you rather speak to someone face-to-face or call an answering service or call center located who-knows-where?
- If you need storage supplies, you could make a separate trip to Lowe's or you could stop in the office to get what you need.
- Maybe you need to use the restroom…sure would be nice to have one onsite! This might fall into the "nice to have" category, until you find yourself with a 6-year-old that just can't hold it any longer and then it definitely falls into the "must have" category.
Looking for more input? Look no further than Google, Yelp, and other sites for reviews from our current and past customers. Before you decide on a self-storage facility, make sure you reference our list of 20 Questions to Ask Before Renting a Storage Facilityso you can store with confidence and peace of mind.