Signs Someone Is Living in a Storage Unit (and How to Prevent It)

Signs Someone Is Living in a Storage Unit (and How to Prevent It)

Many storage facilities deal with people living in their units. With rising housing costs and homelessness, some people in desperate situations turn to self-storage units as a place to live. 

However, self-storage units aren’t safe for human habitation. The lack of running water creates an unsanitary environment, and there’s also the risk of getting trapped inside.

People living on the premises can also negatively affect other tenants and deter prospects from choosing your facility. What’s more, the tenant — and your business — could face criminal charges, especially if children are involved.

As a facility owner or manager, it’s important to know the signs of someone living in one of your units, how to handle the situation and how to prevent it from happening again.

4 Signs a Tenant Is Living in Their Storage Unit

Look for these telltale signs to help you determine whether a tenant is living in their storage unit:

  1. You see the tenant a lot: If you start to notice the tenant more regularly, but they aren’t moving items in or out of their unit, this could be a sign they’ve made the unit their home.
  2. There’s a surge in your electrical bills: If there are electrical outlets in your storage units, a tenant could be using them to power a heater, microwave or other appliances in their unit. 
  3. You’re low on toiletries: If you notice you’re going through more toilet paper, soap and paper towels than usual in an onsite restroom, it could indicate that someone is using your restroom to freshen up regularly and possibly living in a unit. 
  4. You notice more trash than usual: If you’re seeing more food wrappers, beverage bottles and other household trash in your bins and dumpsters, this could be a sign that someone is living in their unit.

What to Do If a Tenant Is Living in Their Storage Unit

It’s important to act quickly and safely if you have a tenant living in their storage unit. You should:

  1. Get backup: Approach the tenant with other managers or the police to ensure your safety.
  2. Keep detailed records: If the police investigate the situation, you’ll need to provide gate log records, security footage, keypad activity and other detailed records.
  3. Increase your security: The tenant may try to access their unit after they’ve been evicted. Increasing your security can help protect your property and your other tenants.

How to Stop Tenants From Living in Their Storage Units

To prevent a tenant from living in a unit, follow these steps:

  1. Maintain strict security protocols: Inspect your storage units, do property walk-throughs and check security footage against your gate log regularly.
  2. Train managers to identify unusual activity: Train managers to know the signs that someone may be living in a storage unit.
  3. Make it clear in your lease: Make it crystal clear in your lease that living in the unit is strictly prohibited. Review the clause with each tenant and let them know the consequences for violating it.

Contact Investment Real Estate, LLC for Self-Storage Property Management Assistance

IRE is a top self-storage real estate and property management firm serving the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

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