How to Manage Pests in a Self-Storage Facility

Every self-storage facility owner understands the damage pests can do to personal belongings. On that same note, prospective clients tend to shop around when searching for the best self-storage facility. Not only do they compare prices, security, and location, but they also look for cleanliness — meaning pest-free. Here are a few tips to help keep pests at bay.

Understand the Risk

No one knows better the harm pests cause than the former tenants of an Armuchee, Georgia self-storage facility. Not only was its sudden closure partially due to damage caused by a barrage of rats, but tenants only had weeks to remove their belongings. 

Unfortunately, pests cause hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to homes and self-storage facilities alike. Battling these nuisances requires an understanding of why they want to invade buildings in the first place — and then spread the words to tenants.

Educate Tenants 

Pests tend to rely on the vulnerability of paper to fulfill their appetite for destruction. Rats, bugs, and a slew of other annoyances can chew straight through cardboard boxes or paper bags. Using plastic totes helps to ward off pests, especially when storage bins are stacked or up off the floor. 

Additionally, clean cooking items thoroughly and avoid storing any food altogether. Even candles and potpourri can attract pests. But it’s not enough knowing the ins and outs of successful pest-free storage. 

Educating tenants takes effort. Include these tips in the contract. Leave helpful pamphlets in your main office area. Make beneficial information available for your tenants to help their self-storage experience a positive one. 

Hire a Pest Control Professional

If rats, mice, or other varmints make it past your frontlines, it’s time to hire a pest control professional. Keep in mind that not all professionals are created equal, so do your due diligence in hiring one. 

Choose a licensed pest control professional, and be sure they’re bonded and insured. Ask for referrals and use word of mouth to find the best professional for your needs. Aside from confirming their certifications, make sure they know their stuff. Do they answer all your questions in detail? Are they willing to contract for ongoing service? What chemicals or traps do they use?

Remember, all of this information is useful and practical. But keep in mind, the cheapest isn’t always the best. Be willing to get a “guaranteed satisfaction” agreement and expect documentation for the services provided. 

Protecting your self-storage facility from pests is a hefty task. If you don’t call the shots, though, the pests will undoubtedly win this battle. 

5 Small Businesses You Want Operating at Your Facility

Although allowing a legit business to operate from a storage unit might seem like a bad idea, many self-storage facility owners are rethinking this option. It’s unconventional, sure, and there’s a slew of reasons why you’d question this approach. However, according to Frugal Entrepreneur, using a self-storage unit as an operational base is trending advice to new founders. That said, here are five businesses that you want to use your facility as a home base.  

1. Contractors or Landscapers

Slinging tools is an art in itself, and it can make for a profitable small business. That said, many professional contractors or landscapers depend on a slew of bulky equipment to get the job done. A self-storage unit can be an ideal home base for this type of business because it’s more of a grab-and-go scenario in terms of these professionals and their “office.”

2. Indie Artists

Independent artists have been entertaining society for decades on end. Only now is it easier for them to extend their artistic reach—and subsequently, they’re business. From painters to sculptures to sketchers, artists tend to have mounds of supplies and material to store. Using a self-storage unit for a base works well for indie artists because of space and temperature control, too.

3. Book Publishers

Much like indie artists and contractors, book publishers often have mass amounts of physical products on hand. The same goes for book dealers or distributors. Consider items such as books, brochures, and magazines. Before distribution, a self-storage unit serves as an excellent inventory hub, per se. 

4. Sales Professionals

Sales professionals function a lot like book dealers in that they’ll have vast amounts of hand-outs and distributional products. Finding a place to store all of the sales material can be tricky, which is why a self-storage unit can save the day. Not only are sales professionals easy keepers, but they tend to need units in multiple locations, as well.

5. Ecommerce Store

It’s safe to say that online retailers aren’t going anywhere soon, especially specialty shops like Etsy and eBay. What’s more, is that people who craft for a living need a place to stock up on supplies and a place to store items before shipping. A self-storage fulfills both of these needs flawlessly. 

With the rise of entrepreneurship, self-storage facility owners have more to consider when it comes to their tenants. And small businesses aren’t on the shortlist anymore, making the self-storage industry even more profitable.

How to Prevent Hazardous Material at a Self-Storage Facility

Hazardous material storage is a valid concern in many places, including a self-storage facility. Not only are stored items vulnerable, but the surrounding community could be at stake, too. According to Cape Cod Times, Monument Beach residents feared a particular grocery store turned self-storage facility would “get blown up” because tenants would freely store dangerous material. Although the owners came up with a few solutions, here are more ways to prevent hazardous material at your self-storage facility.

1. Tighten the Lease Agreement

If written well, a lease agreement can serve many purposes. One commonly overlooked intent is merely to manage risk by educating the leasees. For example, include in the lease a list of hazardous materials that are not allowed on the property. Plenty of tenants blame ignorance or “I didn’t know!” when an accident happens. 

Also, establish a reinforcement policy for tenants who break the lease agreement. Some self-storage operators charge a fine while others penalize in more strict ways, such as lease termination. Whatever you choose, remember to stick with it.

Lastly, require positive identification from the start by verifying phone numbers, addresses, names, etc. Having the correct information on hand is often enough to dissuade any potential rulebreakers. 

2. Improve Security

Although a self-storage facility doesn’t typically have crowds of people like an airport or a supermarket would, unique exposure still exists. People expect their thousands of dollars worth of personal items to be safe—even from the threat of a hazardous material incident, for example. 

That said, following are a few recommendations to enhance safety measures:

  • Install security cameras
  • Build fences surrounding the property
  • Protect the facility with locks, gates, keypads, etc. 

From a marketing viewpoint, promoting a robust security system drums up more business than most other strategies, after all. 

3. Enforce Search Policy

To preface this point, operators can’t typically search units unless a specific set of extreme circumstances exists. However, people tend to behave better when they know they’re being monitored. So, the “watchful operator strategy” goes a long way. 

Notice the types of vehicles arriving at your facility. Pay attention to how they park, and if they have an unloading pattern. The same large van backing up to a unit twice a week is an enormous red flag, for example. 

Talk with the tenants to learn more about what’s genuinely going on. And if all else fails, reference your lease agreement and enforce the search policy. 

Preventing hazardous material at your self-storage facility is more than a shot in the dark. By taking a strategic approach, you can keep your facility and the surrounding community safer. 

How to Prevent Tenant Injuries at Self-Storage Facilities

The adage that all accidents are preventable might be correct—but avoiding some injuries takes more deliberation than others. When tenant injuries do happen, the situation can be challenging for self-storage facility owners to navigate.

Just ask the attorneys handling the Hyrcak v. Public Storage, Inc case. To keep your tenants safe and your insurance loss history at a minimum, here are a few significant take-aways from Public Storage’s experience. 

Know Your Risks 

On May 31, 2016, Ruth Hyrcak slipped and fell while accessing the self-storage unit she rented from Public Storage, Inc. She sustained costly injuries and pointed a finger (and lawsuit) at Public Storage’s dimly lit and water covered area. 

Slip-and-fall claims are some of the most widespread, but others exist as well, such as:

  • Overextension; lift, push, pull, hold heavy items excessively
  • Blows from falling objects
  • Repetitive motion; straining back and joints
  • Body reaction; slow physical response

Maintain the Property 

Identifying your self-storage facility’s exposures is an excellent first step to safeguarding your tenants. Plus, when you know these risks, you can keep up to date on property maintenance, including:

  • Check lighting and emergency lighting
  • Repair old pipes or exposed electrical wires
  • Fix cracks in cement
  • Keep fire extinguishers throughout the building
  • Use signs to alert tenants of slippery areas
  • Ensure bay doors open and close properly
  • Clean up garbage and make trash cans readily available

Attending adequate maintenance will help to prevent tenant injuries and, subsequently, massive lawsuits.

Handle Injuries Effectively 

When an accident does occur, make the right actions—quickly! Assess medical needs and call local authorities for help, if needed. Also, be sure to document the incident shortly after it happens, so you have a more accurate recollection. 

One primary concern for self-storage facility owners is claiming financial responsibility for your tenant’s injury. It’s good to file an insurance claim but avoid issues of liability, such as blindly accepting the blame. 

Adjust Precautionary Efforts

Lastly, as mentioned, some accidents seem unavoidable. However, it’s never a bad idea to take a second look at what caused it. Try to pinpoint why the accident happened. Perhaps you can make changes to prevent a similar accident in the future. 

Prevent tenant injuries at self-storage facilities by taking a step back to survey the environment. Do what you can to avoid accidents, handle situations swiftly, and prevent them in the future. Not only will your tenants thank you, but so will your wallet.

Preventing Fires at Self-Storage Facilities

A fire broke out this week at an Aurora, MO self-storage facility resulting in losses for several tenants.

According to KYTV, one tenant reported that they had belongings in a unit for 16 years. Among their possessions was their marriage license, pictures of their daughter and supplies for a home remodel.

While a cause has not official been determined, it is suspected that someone may have been living inside of a unit illegally.

Meanwhile in West Virginia, a woman is suing a self-storage facility after her possessions were destroyed by water used to put out a fire that erupted on the roof.

As these cases demonstrate, fires are a risk that self-storage owners and managers must be vigilant against at all times.

Here are a few ways that you can help prevent fires at your self-storage facility:

1. Watch Out For Squatters

One of the biggest causes of fires at self-storage facilities is from people illegally living in units. Homeless individuals squatting in self-storage units may use candles, propane or kerosene to keep warm, and these of course can easily cause a fire.

Routinely inspect units and check security camera footage to identify any potential stowaways.

2. Prohibit Smoking

Cigarettes are another common cause of fires. Eliminate this risk, and encourage healthy habits, by banning smoking on your premises.

3. Check Smoke Detectors

Be sure to regularly check and test smoke detectors, and replace backup batteries as needed.

4. Install and Maintain Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers should be available throughout your facility in the event that a fire starts. Make sure that fire extinguishers are charged and not expired.

5. Perform a Routine Inspection Everyday

Your management staff should include checking for potential fire hazards among their end of day duties. For example, make sure the trash area is tidy and free of dangerous items like oily rags.

With proper prevention you can greatly reduce the risk of fires at your facility.