As a storage manager, one of the worst things I ever have to do is auction a storage unit. It always means the facility is losing money, because no one ever pays as much for your stuff as you would, and it means that someone is losing their stuff. And it’s heart-breaking

But it is even worse when the person whose stuff was sold comes back a few months later and asks about the things they lost and talks about what was in the storage unit. No matter how often we tell people not to id, people always seem to store the things that you should never put in a storage unit.

Personal Information

It can be tempting, when you are moving or when you need a storage unit in a hurry, to simply shove things in boxes and throw them in a storage unit. Unfortunately, that sometimes leads to tragedy.

At a storage facility we managed previously, a tenant had put all his identifying information into a storage unit and then let the country, relying on a family member to pay the bill. They didn’t.

While we were able to contact him eventually, before his items were sold, he was panicking, not just because of the things that were in the unit — most of them could be replaced– but because all his identification information was in the unit. He had stored everything from old tax returns to a duplicate copy of his birth certificate and his social security number. The potential for identity theft was huge!

Obviously, he never intended to get behind on his storage payments, but he trusted the wrong person to make the payments while he was away and could have lost everything in the unit AND then had his identity stolen.

Things Money Can’t Buy

At a different facility, we once rented a unit to a young couple in the process of divorcing. The wife put everything into storage until she could get back on her feet and then failed to be able to make the payments.

The loss of clothing and toys was difficult, but what was truly devastating for the woman was that her only pictures of her eldest child, who had died in an accident, were inside the storage unit. In this case, there was a semi-happy ending as the person who bought the storage unit brought the photo albums to me and asked me to return them to her. She got those memories back only because he was a kind soul. He could have, and many other auction buyers do, just throw those personal items in the dumpster.

No one ever rents a storage unit thinking they will get behind on the payments and lose everything to a storage auction, but it happens. The circumstances that lead to a lost storage unit are never happy, but you can make the process less painful is you remember the things you should never store.