What exactly is self storage? If you’re thinking, “Well, it’s where you rent space to store your material yourself,” you are missing an important part of the equation. You see, when you lease self storage space, there is a contract required, written by lawyers, and that makes the reply a bit more complex. The Self Storage Association (SSA), the industry’s not-for-profit lobby organization, defines self storage as “the term applied to facilities offering lease on a month-to-month basis where the renter employs his lock and has exclusive access to his unit.” self-storage-brandon-flThat is an important legal distinction because it shields the self storage facility from creating a condition called bailment, whereby it would assume responsibility for the care, custody or control of a customer’s goods. Unlike a dry cleaner, for example, who might be responsible for burning a hole in that cashmere sweater you dropped off, the self storage facility has no responsibility for the care of your stuff, other than what’s stipulated in the rental contract. Instead, you’re required to supply proof of insurance (or purchase it from the facility) before you can rent the storage unit. In other words, you are in charge of the care of your own stuff. And once you’ve signed the contract, the storage facility owners won’t enter your unit unless they’ve extremely good (as in legally defensible) motive to believe you are violating the terms, which will stipulate materials you can’t keep and actions you can’t run from the rental component. Okay, legal items out of the way. The fundamental function of self storage is always to offer folks a secure place to keep properties they don’t have room for where they live or work, or that they do not need on a daily basis. Most facilities self storage units offer a range of sizes from 5 feet by 5 feet up to 10 feet by 30 feet. The more space you require, the more rent you pay. Contracts are commonly month-to-month. The better facilities feature climate-controlled units that can maintain a steady temperature and humidity. SSA says other popular features include:

  • Outside parking for storing RVs and boats
  • Automatic entry gates with keypad-computerized access
  • Surveillance cameras and tracking stations
  • Alarms on individual storage units
  • Drive-up loading docks with direct access to outside units
  • Lifts for multistoried facilities
  • Complimentary use of dollies and furniture handcarts
  • Some self storage facilities, for example Uncle Bob’s, additionally offer customers complimentary use of moving vans with the rental.

A Growing Business

rv-boat-storage-tampaWhile there have always been people or businesses willing to lease space to others for temporary storage, America’s first commercially feasible storage operation wasn’t founded until the early 1900s, by Martin Bekins. His business served the storage needs of families who were moving west and eventually became the well-known Bekins Moving & Storage Company. It was not until the 1960s that the modern self storage business as we know it today came into being, based on a New York Times post by Jon Mooallem. For the two decades that followed, Mooallem writes, “storage remained a low-profile business… For the most part, storage units were meant to briefly combine the properties of those in transition: moving, marrying or divorcing, or dealing with a death in the family.” http://www.selfstoragecentersofamerica.com/ Not much has changed since then, except we Americans have a tendency to do more moving, marrying, divorcing and dealing inherited stuff than ever before. Thus, the self storage industry has grown to match the demand. Today you can find self storage facilities all over America – about 50,000 of them. SSA’s fact sheet maintains there are 78 square miles of rentable storage space in the USA, or 7.3 square feet of self storage space for every man, woman and child in the nation. They’re in locations that range from the conventional industrial corridors to areas zoned for retail and even multi-family residential neighborhoods. SSA’s Opening to Self Storage says these newer, third-generation self storage facilities “stress aesthetics in construction, designed to blend in with the nature of the areas they serve.” Many even contain attractive landscaping. The aim, according to SSA, is “creating a steady, risk-free, upscale picture that develops a powerful understanding of trust among local consumers.” Like many other companies, self storage has come to recognize the importance image plays in communicating quality and worth.

Who’s Leasing Self Storage Units?

So who’s using all these self storage units? A good deal are rented by individuals. Based on SSA, one out of every 10 households in the state leases a self storage unit, while businesses account for 30 percent of self storage customers. Members of the military are large consumers, too. SSA estimates that 4 percent of the nation’s self storage units are rented by military personnel. Based on the SSA fact sheet, “in communities next to U.S. military bases, military occupancy can be from 20 percent to 95 percent of all leased components.”

What Are We Keeping?

It would be easier to say what we aren’t keeping. People set everything in self storage from holiday decorations to seasonal clothing, sport equipment, furniture and vehicles. Companies use self storage for documents, extra office equipment and furniture, tools, inventory, and materials. Unless it violates the conditions of the facility (ammunition, perishable things and live creatures are a couple of of the normally limited things), it can and is being stored. For secure self storage units in Brandon FL call Self Storage Centers of America today!

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