Every year, there are thousands of storage units around the country that end up abandoned. The payments on them aren't made, the account goes into default, and the unit is eventually auctioned off to the highest bidder. Some of these units sell for a lot of money, and some of them only bring in a few dollars. Either way, you're out the things you stored in that unit and you may still owe the storage facility money for the unpaid rent, too. You might not think it could happen to you, but even a simple mistake like incorrect payment information or a credit card that doesn't get updated could mean that your payments aren't getting made.
If you change your address or phone number, get a new credit card for auto-pay, or anything along those lines, you'll want to make sure your storage unit facility has the right information to contact you. When you have a storage unit you probably don't think much about foreclosure. After all, it's not a house. But if you fail to make payments on your unit, it can be foreclosed on and the items in it auctioned off. There are some ways you can protect yourself and reduce the chances of that happening, though. Especially if you've stored a lot of things there, or if the items are expensive, it's very important to keep your information current.
In addition to making sure your storage facility has your contact information and your auto-pay is set up correctly, you should take a look and make sure your payments are actually being made. Your credit card statement or bank statement should show that information, as you can see when the payments came out and what company the payments went to. If you don't see the payments, or if they were canceled or credited back to your account for some reason, call the company and ask if you're up to date. Here are some things you should know, to help reduce the chances that you'll lose your storage unit to foreclosure:
The lease terms you have to abide by will be in your contract. Make sure you read those terms and understand them, instead of just signing something when you don't know what's in it. Part of the terms of your contract will have to do with default. This will spell out when payments are due, when you're considered in default, and what happens at that time. If you end up in default you won't be able to access the facility or your unit until you bring your account up to date. If you wait too long, though, you can end up without any recourse when your unit is foreclosed on and your items are auctioned off to someone else.
If you aren't paying your bill, your storage facility isn't just going to ignore that. Instead, it's going to try to contact you. That includes through email, postal mail, and phone calls. If you've moved, changed your phone number, or changed your email address recently, your storage facility might not be able to reach out. That doesn't mean they won't try, but it's your responsibility to let them know that your contact information has changed. Once you've notified them of the changes in your information, you can be confident that they will be able to reach out to you if, for some reason, there's a glitch and your payments aren't made.
Keep your eye on the local paper. If you have a storage unit and the facility can't contact you for non-payment, they'll have to let the public know that your unit's going to be auctioned off. The local laws -- and state laws -- where your unit is located will matter, because they affect how a facility has to advertise this information. In many cases, there will be an ad in the local paper that will address the auctioning of the storage unit. Your name will be included, as will the date and time of the auction. If you see this notice in the paper, contact your storage unit facility right away and make arrangements to pay the outstanding balance.
If you don't respond to your storage facility's efforts to contact you and your bill remains unpaid, your storage unit will be auctioned. But that might not be the end of the story. In many cases, the unit isn't auctioned for as much money as you owe. That's especially true if the bill went unpaid for some time, and you don't have a lot of things in the unit. How much someone pays for your storage unit can also depend on who shows up at the auction. If your unit doesn't sell for enough to cover the balance you owe, you'll still owe the rest to the facility. That could mean the bill will be sent to collections, which will affect your credit.
By making sure your payments are being made on time and for the right amount, you can avoid a foreclosure on your storage unit. Being an informed consumer matters, and that means you'll need to take responsibility for the payments on your unit. Those payments should be made on time, and you'll want to check with the facility periodically to make sure you're up to date. Even an incorrect payment amount that's a few dollars short every month could eventually send you into default, since the total amount you have unpaid will continue to increase. The right amount at the right time, every time, is important.
If you're not sure about the current status of your storage unit, asking is the first step. That way you can correct any problems that are occurring, make adjustments to your personal information, and be sure payments are set up the right way. You'll be glad you did, when you have peace of mind and don't have to worry about foreclosure of your self storage unit.
By: Lee Preston
Lee is the Director of Marketing and Promotion for EZstorit.com. When she is not working with our storage facilities partners, she is writing about topics that affect our daily lives.