While each and every self-storage facility is different, it’s not uncommon for the winning bidder of an auction to pay a “cleaning deposit.” First-time auction seekers may assume this is some type of scam, at which point they pack up their belongings and leave the facility. However, cleaning deposits are relatively common in the storage auction industry, and it’s important for bidders to understand what they are and how they are used.
The winning bidder of a storage auction is usually required to clean out all contents from the unit within 24-48 hours (depending on the facility’s rules). This doesn’t mean that you can pick and choose what to keep and what to leave behind. As the winning bidder, you are required to remove ALL contents from the unit, regardless of whether or not they are valuable. This includes removing all large items, as well as trash, cardboard boxes and junk. Before you can leave the facility, the unit must be relatively clean with no items being left behind.
A cleaning deposit is used to ensure that the winning bidder follows through with this requirement. A typical storage auction goes like this: the auctioneer cuts the lock on a abandoned, non-paying unit, allowing all participating bidders to peek inside. You only get a short window of time to look inside the unit, so you need to act fast. Calculate in your head the total, depreciated value of the contents and use this as your maximum bid. Assuming you win the unit, you must head over to the front office to pay for the unit. Here, you’ll also be required to pay the cleaning deposit, which typically ranges between $100 to $200.
The good news is that you’ll get back your cleaning deposit after you clean the unit. It is simply used a security deposit to ensure that the winning bidder cleans his or her unit. If the winning bidder fails to clean their unit, the facility is entitled to keep the cleaning deposit as payment for cleaning the unit.
To recap, a cleaning deposit is a cash deposit that winning bidders are required to pay upfront. When the bidder cleans out the contents of the unit, he or she will get back the cleaning deposit. But if the winning bidder fails to clean out the unit according to the facility’s standards, they may forfeit this deposit.