Sometimes when you’ve never used a service, you might not know how it works. But if you’re like me, asking seems silly, so you just avoid using that service. Since we know that, we thought we’d give you a short tutorial on self-storage facilities and how they work.

How long do I have to stay?

Most storage facilities have a lease that tells you all the basic rules of storing things there. It will tell you when the rent is due, how much the rent is and even when you can get in to your storage unit (sometimes called gate hours). It will also define the term, or time, that the rental is for. Most storage facilities rent for a minimum of one month, though some will let you stay less time at the one month price. Most storage facilities do not require you stay longer than one month, though sometimes a special deal may be offered if you agree to stay longer.

How do I store my stuff?

Generally self storage facilities are divided into units or lockers. Each unit will have its own door and lock. At our facility, we require that you use a lock purchased from us because of the types of locks we use. We use cylinder locks which fit into the doors. Some facilities also use padlocks, like you had on your locker in high school.

At our facility, the lock is new when you buy it and you get all three keys to lock. We do not keep a key, so if you lose all three of them, you end up paying a fee to have us drill out the old lock and replace it with a new one. That also means we don’t have access to your unit.

When you rent a unit, you or people you hire put your stuff inside. We don’t take inventory or mostly care what you store inside as long as you follow some basic rules: no food (it draws bugs and mice), no explosives, no tires and nothing illegal. The tires surprises some people, but it is because less than honest people will rent a storage unit and use it dispose of tires instead of paying the disposal fee.

When is my rent due?

This will vary by storage facility, but generally speaking it will either be due on the same day of the month as the day you moved in or on the first of the month. In our case, rent is always due on the first. We accomplish this by pro-rating your second month here. That means we figure out how many days are left in the month and figure out what you owe for that many days.

What happens if I get behind on my payments?

We hate it that this happens, but sometimes it does.

The first thing you should do is contact us and let us know when you an get caught up. While Storage Wars may make it look like fun to have a storage auction, it really isn’t. We prefer it when you pay your bill and keep your stuff.

At our facility, you have to be at least 45 days behind before we consider having an auction. Then we have to send you a letter or email saying we’re going to do it, give you time (two weeks) to get caught up, and then advertise the sale. In all, you have about 75 days before we will have an auction. We will also work with you to make payments and get caught up.

Have other questions about how self storage works? Email me at and I’ll be happy to answer them.