Many people have asked us about the pros and cons of sharing a self-storage unit. There are a lot of considerations and we want our customers to be aware of some of the risks they take on.
Overall, sharing a storage unit is less expensive, because you pay less per square foot for a larger unit. It also lets you expand and contract the space you use very easily. But sharing a unit does come with some risks and considerations that you don’t often think about until you’re already into the situation.
Why Do People Share Units?
In our decades of self-storage experience, we have seen many families with a “family unit”. Usually, it’s a mom who decided to take back the family home and store items that her early-20s kids left behind during university. From there, it seems to morph as the “kids” grow up with their own families and realize they want a spot to keep baby gear, sports stuff, seasonal items, and other bulky things, as they typically live in a smaller, starter home. Then the dad gets involved and realizes he wants to keep his tools and motorcycle somewhere quiet. Family units really are great because they keep everyone connected, and with close families, they make a lot of sense because families often share things well.
While sharing a self-storage unit can make a lot of sense for a family, we’ve also seen friends sharing a storage unit. This sharing arrangement usually starts when two people share a hobby, or as a favour or a temporary thing. A common situation is when a friend is moving or doing a kitchen remodel because they had a flood unexpectedly, and their best friend already rents a self storage unit and has some extra space to share with them. It’s nice to help friends, or to share common interests, and we often see these friends chatting away at their unit at the end of a weekend.
Before you decide to have a family unit or a unit with a friend, consider the below to make sure you are comfortable and aware of your rental arrangement:
Who is on the contract: The self-storage facility rents to the person who signs the contract. This means, that if you are not on the contract, you don’t get late notices, and you don’t know if the account is in arrears. Your family-member or friend might forget to pay the bill and the unit could go to auction. If you are not on the contract, the self-storage facility also will not give you access to the unit. So, for example, if the storage unit is in your mom’s name, and she’s in Florida for a few months, then you’ll have to make access arrangements with mom, not the self-storage facility directly.
You don’t have control over what’s in the unit: As soon as you let someone else have access to your unit, you have to assume you don’t know what’s in the unit, or what’s leaving the unit. This could mean that your family member forgot to defrost the fridge they put into the unit, leading to water damage, or your friend had a snack while moving and left food in the unit. Worse, your friend might be going through a divorce and storing things that actually belong to their spouse and you get dragged into the fight. There are also more serious security considerations, such as your friend providing access to an untrustworthy person who would be able to look through your belongings. Even if you’re not storing anything monetarily valuable, you might be storing something sentimental or personal, that you would rather keep private.
It’s never temporary: If you let someone share your unit, you have to assume it’s permanent, so that might mean you’re stuck with someone else’s stuff, paying the storage rental, or giving access to other people who need access, which then further puts your belongings at risk. You can’t transfer the unit rental to another person without that person agreeing to take over the rental. If you have a fall-out with a friend, or someone who does not want to take on paying for the rental of the unit, then they probably won’t agree to take over the rental contract, which means, you’re on the hook.
Married Couples: The worst cases of people sharing a unit are married couples. We’re kidding! But it is something to be aware of, because often one spouse signs up for the storage rental, and if there is a marriage break-down, there’s usually mistrust and the spouse who is not on the contract almost always has a difficult time getting access to belongings in the unit.
Businesses: A business unit is really a unit share. Make sure the rental agreement is in the name of the actual business and not your operations manager personally. This way, you as the business owner can always get access. As the business owner, you will also want to make sure you know what’s in that unit and not to allow employees to store personal belongings in the unit.
When Do Unit Shares Work?
We’ve seen a lot of people share units and it works best if the share is between two people who are both on the contract, who really trust each other, and who go into the arrangement knowing they will share the unit.
If you’re not comfortable sharing, then speak up and turn down the share request. Your friend or family member can always get their own unit and keep their belongings separate from yours. Self-storage can be very affordable when you rent from the right self-storage company, like Storage Solutions.
If you have questions about self-storage and sharing a unit, contact us
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