Storage Guide: Contracts and Costs old

It is important to remember that choosing the cheapest storage facility may not be the best decision for your property. Generally, but not always the more money you pay for a service the better the service you receive and this holds true for storage facilities. Ask yourself whether the items you are planning to place in storage are of monetary value or sentimental value. Do the items need special storage conditions in order to remain in good condition.

The Contract or Agreement:

Once you have chosen a storage facility the operator must provide you with a contract or agreement. It is often a good idea to bring the agreement home to read over it carefully and thoroughly in the comfort of your home before signing anything. This will give you time to read all the fine print and to understand for what you are actually being charged in the storage estimate. If you have any questions contact the storage facility and get clarification before signing the contract.

This contract like any other contract is designed and expected to protect you the customer and of course the storage facility. Keep your copy of the contract safe in a secure place so you can reference it when you need to. The contract can generally be terminated with ease by giving timely notice as laid out in the contract. More often than not you will not have to pay for the remainder of the month if you terminate the contract mid month as this will be prorated. You will need to check if this stipulation is included in the contract and if not the storage facility can charge you for the entire month.

Inventory - Why the need?

Always do a complete inventory of the items you are putting in to storage. Most warehouse operators will carry out this exercise with you and record the condition of each piece before it goes in to storage. This protects both the storage facility and the customer in the event there is a dispute over damages as the condition going in to storage is recorded upfront and thus be referred to in the event a dispute arises. Both the customer and the storage operator sign the inventory in agreement on the condition of the goods going in to storage.

What is included in the monthly cost?

The costs included in the contract will include such basics as the cost of the actual space, utilities such as electricity and light plus insurance and will also include costs for climate controlled storage you have accepted. Examine these carefully to be certain this is what you agreed to. Look for hidden costs such as labor or charges that may be applicable if you use the storage facility's "free" truck to get your goods to the storage facility.

Charges for Access:

Although uncommon, some storage companies may charge you for accessing your unit during non office hours and the rate fees to be included on the contract. But the contract does not need to include any charges that may apply for parking on the facilities property as you drop off and collect items from the unit. Neither does the contract need to include charges such as any labor. Labor may be needed to move your goods in to your storage unit and most companies will do this for free however some do charge so always ask.


When you use a storage facility you will be required to put down a deposit which is generally fully refundable. The conditions will be laid out in the contract however it is very important to read the fine print on this subject in the contract. In order for you to get your deposit back when you no longer need the storage space the storage operator may lay down conditions that are basically impossible to meet. If you see this, walk away from this storage company and do not use them if possible. Remember if they are not upfront about the refundable deposit what else can they be hiding.


The contract must include such information as the monthly charges and how regularly you will be billed. The monthly charge includes the actual charge for the storage space itself, lighting, basic insurance and any security offered at the storage facility. The contract can have either an actual cost or an estimated cost.

The storage operator cannot charge more than 10% above the estimated cost. If you have chosen a climate controlled storage option this must be included in the contract and of course this will add a premium to the final cost. Think carefully before you select climate controlled storage. Is it really worth it and do the items you need stored really need to be in climate controlled storage. Remember the cost does not generally include the cost of packing up your goods and getting your goods to the storage space.

If the storage company is providing the truck at no charge it will be listed in the contract as will the rates applicable for not bringing the truck back within a specified time. These charges can add up so be careful in accepting any "free" incentives such as a free truck for a period of time and check out what charges apply after the stated "free" time has elapsed. It is not uncommon for the truck to be free for such a short period of time that in most cases extra charges will apply so read the contract carefully and be cautious in accepting any "free" gimmicks.

How much insurance will I need?

Basic insurance charges will be included in the contract unless you have chosen to take out more insurance to protect your goods while in storage. Basic insurance is generally $0.30 per pound. This offers very little protection. For example, the replacement value on a 20 pound television set will be more than the $6.00 covered by the insurance policy i.e. 20 X $0.30 = $6.00.

For comprehensive insurance you will need to look at alternative options. Your homeowner's insurance policy may cover your household goods while they are in storage so check with your insurance company before accepting any additional insurance offered by the warehouse operator.

If your homeowner's insurance policy will cover your goods while they are in storage it is also very important to also check what you will need to do when you add or remove items from the storage space. No matter what insurance policy your goods are covered under it is very important to check upfront if it is okay with the insurance company to add or remove items from the space and how this is handled from an insurance perspective. Your insurance needs will change as you add or remove items from the space.

You do not want to find out that the antique sideboard that you added to the storage unit recently and was damaged while in storage was not covered by insurance. Warehouse operators who offer extra insurance may require that you accept their preferred insurance coverage if you want to store your goods with them. Others offer you several options with outside insurance companies with competitive rates due to the bulk discount they receive The bottom line is that you absolutely need to have your goods insured.

What happens if I miss some payments?

The contract must include what actions will be taken in the event you do not pay for the service. If you forget a payment or cannot pay the storage company they will take most likely take action. What the action is and after how many missed payment the action will be taken needs to be laid out clearly in the contract. The storage company will most likely not give you access to your property unless you pay the amount owed.

However, if you need to get welfare documents or medical information out of the storage unit the storage operator must by law give you access to obtain these documents only. In the unfortunate event this happens to you, it is not uncommon for the storage company to move your goods out of the storage space so they can rent it to a paying customer.

Your belongings may be sold at auction by the storage company and you will be given notice as to the date, time and location of the auction. In some states you have the legal right to try to try and stop the auction from taking place however this action must be taken well in advance of the auction date and this differs by stage. For example, in New York state you will need to file for a court proceeding at least 10 days prior to the date the auction is planned to happen.