Using a Storage Facility: What Questions Should You Ask?

By Stephen Davis
Special to

When you stay in one place for a few years, you are bound to collect a lot of belongings. And then when it is time to move, you may realize your new residence may not be able to accommodate all of it. Or maybe you want time before you decide where each item goes. In these cases one of the options is to rent a self-storage facility to store your items.

Since the storage facility will be holding your belongings, it is important that you ask a number of questions before you place your items in storage.

What are your security features? Ask the company what sort of security system they have. Storage facilities with poor security have the risk of theft and robbery. In addition to electrical security alarms and mechanical enhancements, how many guards are there and are the grounds patrolled regularly? You should also ask the robbery and theft history. Take details of all the break-ins that have happened and verify that the company took necessary steps to prevent such incidents in the future.

What are your prevention methods for hazards like fires? Ask about the fire fighting system at the facility. Are there fire alarms in each building? Is there a sprinkler system? Is it efficient enough? As most of the items in storage facility are household or office furniture, there is a great risk of fire. Prevention against fire is hence very important. You should also ask about the smoking policy. The facility should not allow smoking inside the storage buildings.

What are the hours? Many self-storage facilities have specific hours when owners can access their belongings. Make sure that the access hours are suitable to you. In case they are not, ask the company if special arrangements can be made. If you have odd hours, search for a facility that offers 24-hour access. You want to know if there are any limits to your access.

What are the climate-controlled settings? Good storage facilities should also have climate control features with both warm and cold temperatures. Many types of furniture can be damaged if exposed to temperature extremes for too long. You should be certain that your items will be in the same condition you left them.

What is your storage system? Also make sure that the storage facility has an efficient system to manage, label and store your belongings. Sometimes smaller facilities often mix up tag numbers during storage and this causes significant delay and hassle.

It is always best that you visit the facility and meet with the staff before you decide to store. This will give you the best picture of the reality on site and you will be satisfied when you leave your belongings there.