BBB Tip: Renting a Storage Unit


Are you looking for a place to store possessions that won’t fit in your house? Finding a storage facility is similar to finding a trustworthy landlord.

To make smart decisions when it comes to signing a contract for a storage unit, spend time deciding on the type of storage unit you need. Gather the items you want to put into storage in one place. This will put into perspective how much space you need, recommends the Washington Post. Don’t forget, you’ll also need space to enter the unit and move around. If you ever need to get something out, you don’t want a unit that’s packed from floor to ceiling.

Visit to check their customer reviews, BBB accreditation status, and more business information. Customer reviews can give you insight into what to consider when visiting the facility.

What to Consider Before Renting a Storage Unit

Are any of your items temperature sensitive? If so, you’ll need to have a unit that’s indoors and climate-controlled. Are your items valuable? You’ll need a unit that has a good security and monitoring system. Also, purchasing insurance for the unit is a good idea; whether it’s through the storage company itself or your personal insurance company.

Don’t make an impulse decision based solely on location and price. Don’t simply select the location closest to you. Keep your options open and make sure you have a few units that you can investigate before making a final decision. You may find that a location a little bit further away will give you more features that you want.

Storage Units: What to Watch Out For

Here are some of the things to look out for when shopping for a storage unit:

  • Cleanliness and Security: All businesses advertise that they’re secure and clean, but not all live up to their promises. Problems could include: bug/animals infestations, leaking roofs, broken surveillance systems, unmanned entrances and poor security of visitors. Look carefully when you visit.
  • Hidden or Additional Charges: There may be additional charges for lock rental, insurance, late fees, utilities and security. Make sure you get everything in writing and read your contract carefully so you aren’t surprised by add-ons later.
  • Hiding in the Small Print: Read the fine print to look for all sorts of conditions relating to responsibility of your possessions, amount of notice for raising rent, and terms under which you’re deemed to have defaulted.
  • Access to the unit: Be sure to look up the storage facility online and determine what the gate and office hours are.

Visting Storage Facilities

Now that you have an idea of what you are looking for from the facility, it’s time to visit a few locations. Ask what’s included in the rate. Some full-service storage companies cost a little more but include extra services, such as free boxes, packing supplies and even transportation.

Don’t feel pressured to sign immediately on the dotted line, even if management tells you that the units are limited. Spend the visit looking around and asking questions. First impressions are everything and often you’ll get a sense from that first visit how the company treats customers.

As with any industry, there are bad actors who want to scam you. Storage scams can include:

  • Complicity in Theft: Through negligence or direct involvement, operators have been known to play a part in the theft of contents from locked units.
  • Selling Your Stuff: In the case of a default, the owner is probably entitled to enter and auction off the contents. Some owners have made themselves inaccessible to receive payment, to force renters into default.

For More Information

Moving soon? See this BBB study on moving scams. Get advice on choosing the best option for your move and finding movers near you.

Report scams to BBB Scam Tracker. For more information you can trust, visit


Information courtesy of the Better Business Bureau

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