The high cost of rent, especially in high population areas like the Philadelphia region, has encouraged a lot of people to get creative with small houses and living in small spaces. We even get a few who say something like, “This is really nice. I could just live here” when they look at climate-controlled storage units.
While it has never happened at a facility we manage, this video is from a man who claims he lived for two months in a U-haul self-storage facility. U-haul claims he was there for a week before he got caught and I can almost guarantee that the manager who let him get away with it, for a week or two months, was in some pretty hot water.
But other than being illegal in most states as it is not zoned as a living space, why shouldn’t a tenant be able to live in their storage unit?
Well, there are a lot of problems with it.
First, this person was diverting electricity to his unit and cooking in it as well as using other varied electronics. The fire hazard created by cooking in that space is a threat not only to him and his stuff, but also to everyone’s things that are stored in the build. In addition, with the way he locked the door while inside and his lack of smoke detectors, the chances are if he started a fire while asleep, he would die in it. It would cause enormous property damage and potentially injure others as well.
Second, as we just talked about, he’s got food in the unit and food draws insects and rodents. Both are dangerous to his stuff and all the units around him.
Third, he’s driving up the prices for everyone else. Wait, you didn’t think of that? A lot of the comments on his YouTube video congratulation him for sticking it to a big company. But that big company passes on those expenses to the consumer. That’s you.
How does what he’s doing cost you money? Well, it’s simple really.
Generally prices are set by a combination of expenses and profit. The higher a company’s expenses are, the more they charge their customers. His electric usage ups the facility’s electric bill. His water use, ups their water bill. And, if they get caught with a tenant living in a storage facility, the fines they will have to pay are also likely to get passed on to the consumer.
So what do we do at Spacemall to keep this from happening?
Well, if I told you all our preventative measures, that would be silly, right? Then you’d know how to get around them!
But I can tell you some. We keep a record of who goes in to the building and when. We watch our security cameras, both live sometimes — we can remote access them from our phones– and sometimes when we want to see when someone entered or left the building. We physically walk the building almost every day to catch things that seem out of place (like the antennae sticking out of his door) and to physically look at locks. Perhaps most importantly, we aren’t just at the building during normal business hours. We’ve run into customers there on Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning or even after the gym on Tuesday nights. By monitoring for this sort of problem, we keep your costs down and your belongings safe.