Ever wondered who makes sure that storage facilities are obeying the rules?
While it varies a little bit from state-to-state, the rules for self-storage are ultimately decided by your state legislature.
Here in Pennsylvania, self storage facilities operate under the rules set forth in the Pennsylvania Self Storage Facility Act. The Pennsylvania law was originally adopted in 1982, but it was modified in 2014. The big modifications for 2014 included letting storage facilities contact customers by email when they were behind on their rent and in danger of losing their stuff. Pretty amazing, right? It only took the state 14 years to join the 21st century.
Like most laws, the wording can be sort of confusing, but you can read the 2014 amendments to the law here.
Not surprisingly, the additions to the law were mostly in favor of the storage facility owners. They allow the company to set a limit to the value of things that are stored, contact you through email and deny you the right to access your storage unit if you are behind on your payments. The law even lets us work with local police to have your vehicle towed off our property if you stop paying for storage.
So who helps the customer if a company isn’t obeying those rules?
Your first best bet would be to talk to the management or owners of the facility to see why they are doing things differently. Double check your lease to see if it explains why things are happening the way they are. For example, the law says that we can deny you access if your payment is late. Here at Spacemall, we give you a five day grace period and then lock you out at the gate until you pay your rent. The specifics are in the lease agreement.
If you can’t resolve your issue by talking to the management, you might want to call the Better Business Bureau. They may be able to offer better suggestions for resolving the issues. In addition, the Pennsylvania Self Storage Association may be able to answer non-specific questions about how the law works.
Finally, if you think a self-storage facility is not following the law, get your stuff out of there! Most storage owners bend over backwards to follow the law, so when you find one that doesn’t, run the other direction and find someone who does.