Posted on: 9 April 2015
Maybe you're thinking about renting a storage unit for extra furnishings, business records or household goods, and you want to know how secure they are. Maybe your strange cousin mentioned that it would be cool to live in a storage unit at the last family reunion. Regardless, you're curious -- how secure are storage facilities? Can someone actually stay in a unit overnight?
Legality of Living in a Storage Unit
Storage facility managers cannot legally rent a storage unit as a living space. They don't have bathrooms; most don't have electricity or heat. So if a facility suspects someone wants a unit to stay in, they have every right to refuse the rental.
Most states have acts that govern what is allowed and not allowed in self-service storage facilities. California, for example, says that "No occupant may use a self-service storage facility for residential purposes."
Even if there were not state or local laws specifically preventing people from living in storage units, the manager and employees at the facility could be liable if they were to turn a blind eye to someone living in one. Living in a storage unit might not be safe; the units are designed to protect belongings and not people. Here's what could go wrong:
- Act of God. An earthquake, tornado or flood could do tremendous damage to a storage facility. The buildings are not generally required to be built in the same way as a facility that houses people, so they could fall and injure or kill anyone living inside.
- Fire. A person living in a storage unit may be more likely to start a fire. He or she may also be unable to exit should a fire start in another part of the facility. Fire alarms are typically not required in storage units.
- Mental health. If someone living in a storage unit is struggling with funds, he or she may not be able to afford medications necessary for physical or mental health. If that person attacked another customer at the storage facility, the staff could be held responsible.
Staff of storage facilities don't want the added security hassles of having people live in the units. People on site after business hours increase the odds of theft. Even if the person living in the unit isn't committing any crimes, they may leave a door or gate open or otherwise unknowingly permit unauthorized access.
Even facilities that offer 24-hour access will have security that enables them to see patterns that indicate a person is living in a unit, such as entering every night and leaving every morning at regular times. As well, they are likely to have security cameras and other measures that will make it easy to spot a live-in renter.
What Happens if You Get Discovered?
In most cases, the security facility will have the right to lock your unit until you return to remove your belongings. They don't have to rent to you if they discover signs that you're living in the unit, as you probably signed a contract promising not to do so. You may also have a formal eviction process started against you, depending on the state laws. In other cases, the police may be called, and you can be cited for trespassing.
Living in a storage unit may be cheap, but it isn't safe or secure. If you suspect that someone is living in a unit where you rent, inform the management right away. There are safer alternatives for people who need a place to live. Speak with professionals like Epic Group Inc for more information.Share