Sunday, February 13, 2011 -
By Relocation.com Staff
When choosing a storage facility quality should always prevail over price. You are trusting this company with your valued possessions. The general rule is the higher the cost, the better the service. However, if you have items of sentimental value or that can be deemed ‘priceless', it is probably a better idea to keep them in your possession in the event something goes awry. These are a few of the various things you should consider when seeking out a storage facility.
The Contract or Agreement:
Once you have selected a storage facility that meets your needs, the operator must provide you with a contract or agreement. The contract is intended to describe how your goods will be protected, so keep your copy in a secure location for future reference. This agreement can easily be terminated by giving prior notice as laid out in the contract and you will most likely not have to pay for the remainder of the month. However, you should refer to your contract for more information on this.
It is crucial that you read through all the fine print so that you completely understand the conditions you are agreeing to. It may be a good idea to take the agreement home so that you may thoroughly examine it. If you come across anything you do not understand, or notice an additional fee you were not informed about, contact the storage facility before signing.
Inventory-Why the Need?
Before placing your items in storage, do a complete inventory of what items you will be storing. You can either write up a list or create a spreadsheet. Many warehouses will assist you with this process and help you record the condition each item is in at the time of unloading. This is done so that you and your storage facility have a detailed record in the event a dispute arises during pickup. Both you and your storage operator will be required to sign the inventory agreement. Pay close attention that both signatures are present.
What is included in the monthly cost?
Included in the contract will be costs for the storage unit, utilities such as electricity or light, and any other services you have agreed to. Look through these carefully to ensure these are the services you requested. Storage companies may try to squeeze in hidden costs such as labor or charges that may be applied if you use the "free" truck to bring your goods to and from storage.
Charges for Access:
Select storage companies may charge you for accessing your unit during non-office hours. These fees should be specified in the contract. However, the contract should not include fees for parking on the grounds and labor charges for moving your goods into the unit. Most storage companies will provide you these services for free, so always double check.
Deposit for Your Storage Facility:
Storage facilities usually require a deposit which is generally fully refundable. The conditions should be covered in the agreement. Again, it is very important you carefully read the fine print laid out in the contract. You should be able to immediately receive your deposit once you have finished using your storage space. If the contract states that you can only be refunded your deposit under impossible conditions, do not use this facility. Keep in mind that if the company is not direct about the refundable deposit, they may be untrustworthy.
How Does Billing Work?
Monthly charges, along with how regularly you will be billed, will be included in your contract agreement. The monthly charge will be either estimated or calculated. However, the operator cannot charge more than 10 percent above the estimated cost. Included in this fee will be storage space, lighting, electricity, insurance, security and any additional services.
If the storage company is providing you with a free truck to move your goods it will be listed on the contract along with charges that will be incurred if you do not return the vehicle on time. It is not unusual to receive a truck at no charge for a short period of time, however find out exactly how long it is free for. These additional fee's can add up, so inquire further about anything which is said to be ‘free' and be cautious before accepting.
How Much Insurance Will I Need?
Unless you have decided to go beyond basic coverage, your insurance costs will be included in the contract. Basic insurance is generally 30¢ per pound, which is very little protection. For example, if you were to insure a 20 pound television under a basic insurance plan and the TV happened to break, you would only receive $6.00 towards replacing it because 20 x $0.30 = $6.00. However, if you will be storing some expensive and some inexpensive items, you should have the option of insuring select goods for more money so that you can save on those items that do not need much coverage.
Your homeowner's insurance policy may insure your household goods while in storage so before you agree to additional costs, inquire with your insurance company about their policy. For an all-inclusive insurance plan you should research alternative options. Regardless of what you decide, you should check with your current insurance company whether it is permitted to add or remove items from your storage unit as needed.
As you add or remove items from your unit, your insurance needs will most likely change. If you suddenly decide to add your antique clock to storage and it is somehow damaged your insurance might not cover the costs. It is common that warehouse operators who offer additional insurance might require you to accept their preferred insurance program. However, other storage facilities have deals with various insurance companies due to the bulk discount they receive. This will offer you more options and competitive rates.
What Happens if I Miss Payments?
Your contract should clearly lay out the details and consequences for not paying for your services or missing payments. If you fail to turn in a payment, your storage company will most likely take action. The usual penalty is losing access to your goods unless you pay the full amount owed. There is one exception; according to the law, you must be given access to your belongings if you need to obtain welfare, medical or other important documents from your storage unit.
If you find yourself in such a situation, the storage company may clear your items out of storage to make room for a paying customer. In this case, they may sell or auction off your items to make back the money which was owed to them. If they decide to hold an auction, you will be notified about the date, time and location. You may be able to try to prevent the auction by filing for a court proceeding, however, you will have to take action in advance. The regulations differ by state so you will have to investigate about your states laws if you happen to be in this unfortunate position.