Recently, we were asked “what is secure self-storage?”
After 20 years being in the self-storage industry, we never tire of answering this question, and are actually pretty excited to talk about it. We are very aware of it, and perhaps a little obsessed with it ourselves because customers come to us (and other self-storage companies) to safety and securely store their personal belongings.
Secure self storage is much more than putting a lock on a storage unit. In fact, safety and security are both a large part of what you are paying for when you rent a unit at a self-storage facility. It would be horrible to have concerns or questions about self storage security after you’ve moved your classic car, entire house or your business inventory into a storage unit.
It’s important to ask questions about security when vetting potential self-storage companies. While you can vet them by phone, touring the self-storage facility is the best way to see if what they are saying about offering ‘secure storage units’ matches what you see and personally experience on site. If you’ve already rented a storage unit, it is never too late to ask about the security of the facility you are using.
Here are 6 crucial things to look for, or ask about, when vetting self-storage security:
1. Security Cameras
- Does the facility have cameras?
- Where are they located?
- Do they all work?
- Do they record to an off-site location?
- How often does a person monitor them?
- Having working cameras is important, especially for 24 hour access storage facilities.
- Surprisingly, a lot of self-storage facilities don’t have security cameras, or if they do, relatively few work, and they are often not monitored or checked unless there’s a problem.
- For customers that go to their storage units daily, they will know quickly if there is a problem. But most people don’t, and therefore if the self-storage facility is not doing some sort of monitoring, the cameras are not useful to you.
2. Gated Access
- Does your facility have gated access?
- How does the gated access work?
- Is it monitored or controlled?
- A storage unit that people can walk up to easily is not very secure.
- In addition to the door on your storage unit, it’s better if your unit is behind a secure gate that has controls on it (like access cards or codes). If the security gate records who comes in and out of the facility, then at the very least, if someone steals an access card or rents a unit just to steal from others, there is a place for the police to start.
3. On-Site Personnel
- Do you have staff on site?
- How do they monitor the facility and units?
- Many facilities have few personnel on site and may only have a single person sitting behind the front desk focused on sales.
- Facilities that have a person walking the site daily, at random times, checking locks and ensuring everything looks ‘right’ is a huge security benefit.
- Dark places are not safe places for your belongings or personal safety.
- Lighting is something that is best seen and assessed in person.
- When touring the site, check how close the lights are together and where they are located. If you think you’re going to be visiting the facility often at night, drive by at night to see what it looks like.
- If you do not feel safe when on site (day or night), trust your gut no matter how cheap the storage unit rental is. Cheap does not get you secure self-store (or peace of mind).
5. Access Cards vs. Access Codes
- Are customers given access card or access codes?
- Who has copies of these cards or codes?
- Access cards are cards that you hold up to the gate reader to gain access.
- Access codes are sequences of numbers you punch into a gate reader to gain access.
- Both are better than nothing, but an access card is specific to an individual, and if someone else has the card, they must have met with that individual to obtain it. Access codes need to be memorized and can be much easier to guess.
6. Family-Owned and Operated
- Is this a family owned and operated self storage facility?
- This is a frequently overlooked feature of security.
- If the owner is also the operator, they are likely to care more about the facility, customers and business since it is theirs. They are also more likely to walk around the facility more often and take action if something goes wrong.
Below are 4 important security red flags to watch for. While they make a self-storage facility cheaper or easier to run for the owner and staff, they are not good for you or the security of your belongings.
1. Open Access to Your Unit
- There is no good reason for a self-storage facility to have or want the key to your unit or request a copy of it.
- A secure storage facility will insist that customers buy their own lock.
- They should also not let anyone into your unit (or cut your locks) for someone who is not you or stipulated in your self-storage unit rental agreement.
- Your personal items in that unit, and therefore your unit is no one’s business but yours.
2. Burnt Out Lights or Lack of Lighting
- When it comes to security, the value of lighting is always under-estimated.
- In the winter, the sun can go down as early as 4:30pm. If the self-storage facility isn’t properly lit, then it’s easier for people to sneak in, to cut your lock, to tamper with your goods, or to be intimidating or frightening to you if you need to go to your storage unit in the evening.
- Tip - If you’re renting from a facility that is not well lit, leave your car lights on for safety and text or call someone so they know where you are.
3. Lack of Video Cameras or Cameras that Look Old
- This is terrible, but some places will put up non-functioning cameras to give the illusion of security.
- While this may act as a deterrent (and be better than nothing), it gives customer a false sense of security because they don’t help if something has gone wrong.
4. Bad Attitude
- If you sense that the self-storage facility staff have a bad attitude in general or don’t seem to care about you, then they probably don’t care about your belongings, or keeping them (or you) safe at their facility.
If you’re looking for secure self storage, you can count on family-owned and operated Storage Solutions. We are conveniently located in Milton and Woodstock. Contact us with your questions or to rent or reserve your unit.
Your friend in self-storage,