Your Step-by-Step Guide to Renting a Self Storage Space

Jon Fesmire |

When you need additional space for your personal belongings, business inventory, tools, or a vehicle, you can’t beat the pricing on self storage. Per square foot, storage space rents for less than either residential or commercial space. It’s a great way to expand your business, store off season items, or keep things you need, but don’t need all the time.

If you’ve never rented a storage unit before you may want to know how to do so before you dive in. Let’s go over the basic process you can expect, regardless of which storage company you choose to work with.

Pick a Location

First, you’ll need to find a location you like. Search for local properties and compare them. Location, features, security, and rental price are the most important things to consider. Features include things like office and gate hours, deliveries for business storage customers, and climate control.

If you live in an area with hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters, then climate control is especially important. Properties keep the temperature in climate-controlled units between 50 and 80 degrees and the humidity between 30% and 50%, perfect conditions for most of your belongings. This will help prevent mold and mildew, wood from drying out, and metal in electronics from warping.

Weigh all the pros and cons of the different properties you’re considering. If you have the time, go to each and ask for a tour. This will allow you to get a feel not only for the facility, but for the people who work there and the surrounding neighborhood.

Pick Your Space

Once you’ve chosen a property, it’s time to pick a storage space. You’ll pick by size and type. Spaces range in size from small 5x5 to extra large at 10x40 and 20x40. Then you’ll decide if you want an indoor space or a drive-up space. Indoor spaces are located inside of the building, and this is where you’ll generally find spaces equipped with climate control. Drive-up spaces are typically located outside so you can literally drive up to the space, and park in front of it to load and unload your belongings.

Rent Your Space

Rent your space online or in person. Online, you can rent a unit via your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Most properties make it easy to pick a space and rent it via their site. You’ll get offered most of the same options online as you would in person, but some locations may offer specials tailored to in person or online.

When you rent online, you’re not restricted by office hours, and you can move into your space during gate hours without going into the office. Of course, if you need to purchase a lock, you’ll need to do that part in person.

To rent in person, call the property and ask if you can drop by to rent a space. If you need to make an appointment, follow those instructions. Consider reserving the unit you want online before you come in, which will prevent anyone else from getting the unit you want before you can make it to the office.

The property will need to see your ID. Online, they may ask you to photograph and upload it, and they may photocopy it if you sign up in person. You’ll also need to purchase at least a minimum level of storage renter’s insurance, unless you already have storage renter's insurance. It’s important to note that while you may think your homeowners or renters policy should cover anything you put in storage, it probably doesn’t.

Go over your rental agreement and sign it. In person, you’ll sign with a pen, naturally, but you can usually sign it digitally if you sign up online.

Note that the day you sign up is considered your first day. The property will prorate your rent from that day, so if you rent in the middle of the month, you’ll pay for the second half of that month. The property will ask you to pay up-front.

Your Information

Once you’ve signed up, you’ll get a bunch of useful information. This will include your gate code. You’ll use that to get in and out of the property. Some properties require a code to get in and out of the building.

You’ll also receive your insurance policy information so you know how much and what conditions it covers. You’ll get an explanation of when your rent is due, almost always on the first of the month, and what happens if you pay late. Your overall rental price will be a little more than the rent for the unit, because they factor in your insurance payment.

It will also include a list of prohibited items. These include anything flammable or explosive, weapons and ammunition, unregistered vehicles, living plants or animals, open food containers, and more.

Pay your rent on time, be a courteous neighbor when putting things in storage, arranging your space, or picking things up, don’t store prohibited items, and you’ll have a positive self storage experience.