Maryland House Bill 786’s primary objective is to remove the requirement that self-storage facilities must advertise their auctions in the newspaper. Like many other states, Maryland currently requires all storage units to advertise their auctions in a a general circulated newspaper within the same area in which the auction will take, within 3 days of the auction. Failure to do so could make the auction illegal, and this place the storage facility at risk for being fined.
HB 786 removes the requirement that self-storage facilities must advertise their auctions in the newspaper. However, they must still advertise it in a commercially reasonable manner, which is defined as any method that generates a minimum of three bidders. This can be classified ads, online ads, flyers, mailing brochures, etc.
But not everyone is happy about HB 786. For starters, newspaper companies say the new law will take away some of their business, which makes sense given that storage facilities would probably choose more traditional/cheaper forms of advertising. Several major newspapers based in Maryland have already spoken out against HB 786. Proponents of the bill, however, say HB 786 will streamline the auction process, benefiting both the storage facilities and the bidders.
This isn’t the first shakeup to occur within Maryland’s storage auction industry. In 2013, state lawmakers passed a bill that allows storage facilities to send lien notices via email and conduct auctions online. This law has since been weaved into the wording of HB 786 (see below).
“Before conducting a sale under subsection (a) of this section, the operator shall, subject to paragraph (2) of this subsection, notify the occupant of the default by hand delivery, verified mail, or electronic mail at the occupant’s last known address,” wrote section B(1) of House Bill 786.
Even if HB 786 passes, however, it doesn’t necessarily mean that print ads will be going away anytime soon. Storage facilities will likely continue to use newspapers to spread the word about their auctions. Granted, some may choose alternative methods of advertising, but print ads will remain an option.
Do you think storage auctions should be listed in the newspaper? Let us know in the comments section below!