If you ask a random person what they have in their storage unit, you’ll get a different answer from everyone. The whole point of renting a unit from companies like Storage West is to have the freedom to keep your stuff — and you get to define which of your stuff belongs in storage. Well, you almost have free reign. There are certain things you should never put in a storage unit.
As with any other rental property, there are limitations on what you can — or should — store in your unit. This list isn’t just about your lease agreement, although that is binding. It is also about what is legal, what is safe, and what is smart.
By the way, if you are researching storage facilities in your area, hoping to find a different answer about illegal storage unit activities, you won’t find any facility that disagrees. These are established legal boundaries for the safety and security of all concerned with storage facilities. Our business must follow the laws in the four states we cover Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas.
Storage Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Here’s a quick list of storage unit mistakes that must be avoided if you want to retain the right to your storage unit:
1. Living in a Storage Unit
Can someone live in a unit?
No, living in a storage unit is not allowed at any storage facility.
2. Plants and Pets
Storage units aren’t designed for plants or pets. Plants need fresh air, water, and light. Animals need to be watched over, and owners need 24-hour access to the animals, which isn’t possible in storage units. In fact, keeping animals in these conditions may, in and of itself, be illegal. If you collect or work with insects and bugs, you cannot keep them in a storage unit.
3. Anything Illegal
How can we define illegal? When it comes to storage units, this includes stolen goods and any item that is illegal to possess or use. It’s also a bad idea to conduct illegal activities in a storage unit. So ignore those TV crime shows and do the right thing.
4. Toxic or Hazardous Chemicals
Even legal chemicals don’t belong in a storage unit. Self-storage facilities aren’t designed with the proper ventilation or temperature controls to maintain these often volatile compounds. Furthermore, any substance that is explosive, flammable, or hazardous in any way should be properly stored elsewhere. This includes propane, gasoline, fireworks, bio-medical waste, or ammunition. If you have any doubts, check your lease agreement to see what is “hazardous.”
Many people think they can use their units as an off-site food pantry; however, it is important to keep fresh food, such as produce, meat, and dairy out of your unit. Grains, rice, and cereal are also problematic as they can attract pests. Depending on the climate, even canned goods can be risky due to the fact that storage units can be much hotter or colder than the outside temperature. Just skip the food, especially if your facility prohibits food storage.
6. Irreplaceable Items
This last item is just a matter of common sense. You don’t want to risk losing important one-of-a-kind items such as passports, cash, family photos, and birth certificates. For money and important documents, a home safe or bank deposit box is a better option. For family heirlooms, you can rent air-cooled or air-conditioned units that may protect your items from temperature damage, but you’ll still need insurance for theft, fire, flood, and other damage.
Final Thoughts on What Not to Put in Storage
When figuring out what you shouldn’t put in your unit, it comes down to these questions:
What does your lease say is prohibited?
What does your common sense say is a bad idea?
If it fails either of these tests, don’t put it in storage. Still in doubt? You can talk to your onsite manager about it. Call (877) 252-8105 to get answers.