Perhaps you have decided to redecorate and clear your home of everything you do not use, or you have inherited some great antiques but do not currently have space for them in your crowded cottage. Maybe you have a collection of rare books that you don't want your young children to discover and potentially destroy, or you plan to renovate that cherry red 1965 Mustang that you found rusting on an old farm and bought on a whim, but you don't have the garage space to store it at home. For whatever reason, you have decided to lease a self storage unit for your valuables, but you want to ensure that you choose a place where your treasures will be well protected.
Self storage companies provide security, but some offer more than others. Talk with management, and make a site visit before renting to familiarize yourself with the safety of the neighborhood. Check to see for yourself if the facility is in good repair and the grounds well tended. This will give you a chance to see if the security guard is asleep on the job or if the keypad entry is on the fritz. See if you can tour the grounds alone so that you can talk freely with current patrons and discuss problems they may have had with management or hear the praise they have to offer.
Find out what security features the facility offers.
Self storage facilities often are surrounded by some sort of fence, perhaps a concrete barrier or iron bars. Check it for soundness and gaps. Could unwanted visitors climb it or break it down?
Find out how access to the facility is granted. Many provide a gate that can be opened by the swipe of a card or by entering a code in a keypad. Could these be cloned easily? Watch to see how long the gate remains open once a visitor passes through. If it is too long, an intruder could speed into the facility unchecked. Find out if the entry system maintains an electronic record of visitors to narrow down who was in the facility when a problem occurred. If your self storage unit is a room in a large building, is entry through external doors limited to patrons with some sort of key? Are there alarms on the doors?
Find out how much lighting the facility provides. Can you see to enter your unit at night? Can strangers hide in the shadows? Find out how much lighting is available inside buildings and in each unit.
Determine if cameras monitor just the gate and front office or if they guard every hallway and row of units. Ask management if the cameras are monitored constantly by security staff or if they are reviewed only in the event of a theft. If monitoring turns up an intruder, are the police called immediately and the gates locked? Find out how long surveillance recordings are saved. If you don't visit your unit for six months and then find out it was robbed, will security footage from six months ago still be available?
Often you must purchase a lock to place on the door of your self storage unit. Storage companies like these locks because management can easily remove them and retrieve the space if a patron does not pay; however, thieves can remove them, also. Ask if other locking mechanisms are available that cannot be cut off with easily attainable tools.
Not only does your unit need to be protected from theft, it also must adequately protect your stored items from the climate. Many things will be fine in a standard self storage unit that does not have any temperature or climate controls, but other things like papers, clothes, furs or electronics may need more protection, especially if you live in an area that experiences extreme temperatures or high humidity. For sensitive items look for a facility with heat, air conditioning and humidity controls. Management will control these features for the entire building at some facilities while others provide individual room controls.
Find out if the facility was constructed in a manner that would protect the units from strong winds, even tornadoes or hurricanes.
Talk with management about the role of local police. Is there a station nearby, or is the unit on a route commonly traveled by the police? Have they been helpful in the past?
Find out whether management is at the facility during business hours only or around the clock. If they are not onsite, can they be contacted easily in the event of a problem?
Find out if the company employs security guards. What type of training do they have? Do they make rounds and check for intruders, broken locks or open doors? Can they tell a customer from an intruder?
Although the self storage facility provides security, your ability to check on your storage unit periodically also helps to ensure that your valuables remain safe. For this reason, you may want your self storage unit to be located near your home or workplace. You want to be able to check on the unit from time to time so that you can report suspicious activity or needed repairs to management. In addition, this will allow you to rev up your Mustang's engine and give it a spin every so often or give you the opportunity to take out one of those rare books and read it.
The advice on this website is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only. "Storage Tips" are offered as-is and no warranty is expressed or implied. For more information, see our Terms and Conditions.