Although the self-storage industry continues to have steady 7.7% annual growth since 2012, self-storage litigation is a potential drawback. A variety of legal issues can often catch self-storage owners unawares, which can be costly. With the right knowledge and follow-through to avoid liability, there’s every reason to cruise into the self-storage investment industry with confidence.

Security

The lease agreement presented for tenants to sign should be clear on the level of security provided at the self-storage facility. For instance, if the property does not provide 24-hour surveillance, specialized locks, or guards, mention it in the lease agreement. The presence of video cameras could give prospective tenants the idea that there is active on-site surveillance, but the cameras may just be there to protect employees. Spell this out.

A mistake often made is when a manager makes verbal promises that suggest tenants can feel completely secure leaving their belongings there, especially if that customer’s belongings are stolen. Enticing customers with promising but misleading words opens the door for accusations of practicing “deceptive trade” and for costly self-storage litigation.

Bailments

The topic of bailments can involve numerous details for self-storage owners to consider in order to avoid taking undue legal responsibility for the property of others. In essence, the storage of automobiles, RVs, and boats comes with risk anytime the property is not stored behind four walls that the owner is responsible to lock up securely. A bailment refers to the transfer of possession of personal property but not transfer of ownership. In short, before storing property in parking areas, it’s best to have the help of legal experts experienced in potential liabilities faced by self-storage owners.

The Americans with Disabilities Act

By law, self-storage property owners are required to ensure that their place of business is physically accessible by individuals with disabilities. A few examples of removing barriers in order to comply with the law include:

  • Installing grab bars in toilet stalls
  • Installing ramps
  • Installing offset hinges so that doorways are widened
  • Making curb cuts at entrances and sidewalks
  • Rearranging vending machines, tables, and chairs, as necessary, to make room for the use of a wheelchair

Climate Control

Lack of clarity in lease agreements with regard to “climate control” and “temperature control” is a major area of self-storage litigation. Lease agreements should specify what is meant by climate control or temperature control. There should also be a disclaimer to make it clear that there are no guarantees that the temperature, humidity level, or air quality will remain at the desired levels at all times.

Self-storage owners have a duty to routinely schedule maintenance on HVAC equipment, to avoid self-storage litigation for failure to apply due diligence toward maintaining a controlled climate or temperature.

Contact Weaver Realty Group Regarding Self-Storage Litigation

Self-storage owners can benefit from working with knowledgeable, experienced brokerage agents with wide industry connections, such as the agents at Weaver Realty Group. Weaver is an Argus Self Storage Network Affiliate, which affords their self-storage industry clients with the advantage of nationwide connections. We offer creative solutions and develop strategies that help to ensure that our clients meet their goals for success. For additional information such as help to avoid pitfalls of self-storage litigation, contact Josh Koerner of Weaver Realty Group today at (904) 591-0140.