13 Things to Know Before Renting a Storage Unit

Roommates packing up belongings to store in a storage unit

From stashing your child’s toy chest (which you still have despite your daughter being a teenager now) to storing excess furniture after downsizing, there are numerous reasons to lease a self-storage unit. However, if it’s your first time renting one, chances are that you don’t know the ins and outs of the storage industry. We are here to help. From usage rules to unit pricing, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know before appending your signature on the dotted line and renting a storage unit.

Things to Know Before Renting a Storage Unit

Self-storage facilities provide long-term and short-term solutions for safely housing your personal, home, and business belongings.

Whether you’re relocating to a new city, a small business owner in need of a place to store files, a new homeowner waiting to complete their construction, or a college student stashing your stuff for the summer break, you can utilize self-storage units to keep your belongings.

Here is a first-timer guide that answers all questions pertinent to self-storage units to help you choose the best available.

1. What are the things to look for in a self-storage unit?

While the safety and security of the storage unit are a top priority, there are a few other factors to look into before committing and renting a storage unit. They include:

  • Security: You should ensure that there are adequate security measures to prevent intruders from gaining access to your unit. These should include video monitoring, locks, security gates or doors, and in-person surveillance.
  • Accessibility: You should also have 24-hour access to the contents of your storage units, including on the weekends.
  • Availability: Suppose you need a specific type or size of unit. It’s crucial to ensure that the storage facility you choose to work with has the right kind available.
  • Pricing: Take note of any variations in the contract to get the best value for your money. Also, be sure to ask for specials and online discounts.
  • Location: While a storage facility closer to a metropolitan area may be more convenient, ensure that you balance convenience and price based on how frequently you’ll need to access the unit.
  • Reviews: More than ever, reviews play a significant role in buyers’ purchasing decisions. Current and former clients’ perceptions do matter. Robbery reports, grumpy staff, and one-star reviews are red flags that a particular storage facility isn’t suitable.

2. What do I need to provide to start renting a storage unit?

Just as with leasing a house, you’ll need to furnish the storage facility with a valid, government-issued form of identification to lease the storage unit. Below are your options:

  • State ID
  • Military ID
  • Driving license
  • Passport

Besides that, you’ll also need to sign a contract or storage unit agreement — be sure to read it in its entirety! — and heed the regulations laid out.

3. What are the available storage unit size variations?

Self-storage units come in different sizes. With that in mind, you need to have a general idea of how much space it will take to fit your belongings before deciding on a storage unit size. As a rule of thumb, you should always go one size bigger to minimize the chances of running out of space. Here’s an outline of some of the common storage unit sizes:

  • 5×5: This unit is the size of a small closet. A 5×5 storage unit can fit a small mattress set, a dresser, and several medium-sized boxes.
  • 5×10: The 5×10 is the size of a small walk-in closet. It can fit the contents of a mid-sized bedroom.
  • 5×15: This unit is the size of a large walk-in closet. It can fit the contents of a single bedroom, including a dresser, a queen-sized bed, golf clubs, a television set, and several medium- to large-sized boxes.
  • 10×10: This is arguably the most popular storage unit. The size of half a standard one-car garage, the 10×10 unit can fit the furnishings of an entire family room or two full bedrooms.
  • 10×15: The 10×15 unit can fit the contents of three full bedrooms.
  • 10×20: The size of a standard one-car garage; the 10×20 can fit the furnishings of a multi-bedroom house, including a couch, refrigerator, dining room set, and several large boxes.
  • 10×30: This storage unit is as large as a one-and-a-half car garage. It can fit the furnishings of a three-five bedroom house.

4. How are self-storage unit costs determined?

The monthly storage unit cost ranges from anywhere between $100 and $300. The pricing of storage units mainly boils down to factors such as:

  • Size (the bigger the unit, the higher its cost)
  • Availability (prices shoot up when there aren’t many storage units available)
  • The duration in which you’ll store your property (the longer the duration, the higher the cost)

Other factors that determine how much a storage unit costs include:

  • Whether the unit is indoors or outdoors
  • Whether it has drive-up access
  • The unit’s location (expect a price surge in metropolitan areas and a friendlier price in less busy suburbs)
  • Whether you need climate control

5. Is it possible to rent a storage unit for a week?

Whether or not you can rent a unit for a week will depend on the individual company. Some storage companies don’t require a storage contract. So you can lease for shorter periods, like on a weekly basis. However, there’s a catch — you should expect higher daily rates for this type of storage.

That said, typically, most companies offer monthly rental agreements with no minimum stay or long-term commitment.

6. When do you need to rent a climate-controlled storage unit?

All your possessions can benefit from climate control storage. But this type of storage is especially vital for items like furniture and clothing since it prevents the growth of mildew and mold. Safeguard your valuable possessions (clothing, wooden and leather furniture, photos, artwork, electronics, etc.) from extreme cold, heat, and humidity by storing them in climate-controlled units. These can maintain temperatures between 55 and 80 degrees throughout the year.

While climate-controlled storage units cost more than the standard unit, the extra cost is worthwhile, given that climate control can prevent your belongings from getting damaged due to sudden temperature changes.

7. How do you transport your belongings to a storage unit?

You can opt to move your belongings to your storage unit on the trunk of your truck. But it is advisable to take advantage of the free truck rentals from select storage companies. Truck rentals enable you to move bulky items in a single load, so you can reduce the transportation time (and headache) associated with moving into or out of a storage unit.

Tempting as it may be, using your storage unit as an office or a dwelling is illegal and amounts to the violation of the lease contract.

You can only use your storage unit to keep files and other business-related items. However, many storage facilities have on-site business centers where clients can work, mail packages, and print documents.

9. Do you need insurance coverage to store goods in a storage unit?

Woman calling a storage unit company to ask questions about renting a storage unit

Be sure to ask whether the storage company offers insurance options. Then you can decide whether or not you need insurance coverage for your stored belongings. Some storage companies mandate that customers furnish them with an insurance plan before signing a contract—no insurance, no coverage. On the other hand, some companies let their customers decide whether to get insurance coverage depending on how valuable the items they’ve stored are.

10. How can you save space in a storage unit?

How you pack your items will determine how much storage space they occupy. Efficiently packing your items may mean you can rent a smaller storage unit. Here are some tips to help you save space as you’re renting a storage unit:

  • Disassemble bulky furniture: Remove table, chair, and bed legs to stack and store them in less space.
  • Stack your items: Storage units usually have high ceilings, so make use of stackable bins and arrange various items to fill the space all the way to the top.
  • Leave an aisle: Leave a space to easily access your goods whenever you need them while you’re renting a storage unit.
  • Fill up: Fill wardrobes and dressers with smaller items to maximize space.

11. What items can you store in a storage unit?

Storage units are designed to hold personal, business, and household goods such as clothing, files, furniture, refrigerators, and bicycles. They are not built for anything dangerous, toxic, or alive. Some of the things that you shouldn’t store while renting a storage unit include:

  • Hazardous materials
  • Combustible or flammable materials
  • Food or items that attract bugs
  • Living things (humans, animals, and plants)
  • Weapons, explosives, and stolen items
  • Wet or scented items

12. Can you repair a car in a storage unit?

Most reputable storage companies are not willing to let you use your unit as your personal auto repair shop, given that cars contain flammable and hazardous chemicals. Moreover, since most storage units don’t have electricity, you can find it challenging to fix your car.

That said, reputable storage facilities may offer vehicle storage units. So, whether you’re stashing your Porsche 911 or keeping your Mazda safe while you’re on a long trip, storage units can be an ideal place to park your ride.

13. What action should you take when your storage unit is broken into?

Your storage unit can be equipped with the best and latest security features. But theft can still occur when you’re renting a storage unit. Suppose you become a victim of a unit storage robbery while renting a storage unit; you’ll only be able to make an insurance claim if you acquired a policy before placing your items in storage.

Suppose you opted out; chances are that you won’t receive any compensation, given that the storage facility isn’t liable unless the theft occurred due to their negligence (such as its employee leaving the gate or door unlocked). If you’re insured and theft occurs, you should make a claim the moment you find out what’s missing.

Reach Out to Neighbor for Excellent Storage Units

Do you need long-term or short-term storage before, during, or after your upcoming relocation? Then don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at Neighbor. We offer a wide range of storage units, including climate-controlled storage units, at reasonable prices.

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