Today, self storage is a thriving business in the United States and all over the world. Since the 1970’s storage facilities have continued to multiply in number and expand in size. Somewhere along the way, facilities started to realize that they needed a plan of attack when tenants couldn’t, or refused, to pay up on their current or overdue rental fees. And so storage auctions were born out of a necessity for facility owners to recoup the loss of income from delinquent accounts. As with any flourishing enterprise, it wasn’t long before state legislations got involved in the action and set out to create self storage lien laws to protect both the renters and the storage facility owners.
There isn’t a definitive record available on when auctions started to occur. We know that storage facilities as a whole really started to boom in the United States in the 1960’s and 70’s, beginning with prominence in California and the West Coast and spreading like wildfire across the rest of the country in the following years. The laws and regulations shortly followed. In North Carolina for example, according to the documentation I was able to find, the laws were first written in the early 1980’s. Suffice it to say, today almost all of the 50 states have laws on the books on the subject.
The world is a much different place than it was 20+ years ago when facilities started to dot the countryside and the laws on self storage auctions were first written and passed. The internet has created a brave new world in pretty much every imaginable way. (Like this blog for example. 20 years ago I would never have been able to instantly update subscribers with information! We live in an awesome age of information. More importantly, today I don’t have to wear shoulder pads to be office appropriate. But I hear they’re making an unfortunate come back. For shame!)
However, until recently, many states were still operating under the antiquated guidelines of yesteryear, leaving many facility owners frustrated and in a jam. In 2012 the tide began to shift on the topic, and 12 states passed altered or added statutes to their laws. In 2013 the changes will continue. 10 states are currently working to update or add to their laws.
On January 22nd we posted an awesome guest blog from Jenny Zhang at Sparefoot detailing the changes in Ohio laws specifically. But what about everybody else? Aside from Ohio, changes have been implemented in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and on February 26th of this year, Georgia.
The new laws range from making changes to how facility owners are required to send notices (email vs the traditional newspaper announcement) to what can be done with boats and vehicles that are abandoned. For example, in Illinois the Self-Service Storage Facility Act permits operators to have vehicles and boats towed from the facility after 60 days of default in lieu of processing the titled property for sale.
In Alabama, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Pennsylvania new laws have been proposed as recently as this month. The propsed laws vary by state.
New Mexico legislature is proposing a shortened time frame for the lien sale from 90 days to 60 days.
In Alabama the law looks to shorten the default time and denial of access from 30 to 15 days. It would also authorize a facility owner to notify an occupant of default via first class mail or email. The admendment would delete the requirement that the notice include a description of the property and a denial of access to the property. These are just some of the amendments currently on the table in the state regarding self storage.
In California, several changes to various sections of the law are looking to be updated for these our modern times. Included in the amendments are changes to the Declaration In Opposition To The Lien Sale document. A renter is required to fill out if this form and return to the storage facility if they wish to file a lawsuit if they feel their items have been wrongfully put up for auction.
Many of the changes being proposed across the states are comparable. Some of the items I’ve already mentioned were visible in several of the amendments I read. While the language may vary state to state slightly, the general intent was very similar.
Overall the legislation is working to pass amendments that protect facility owners from lawsuits, (and headaches), to bring the requirements into the 21st Century and to make certain laws passed with vague language more specific and concise so that there is less confusion on the legalities involved with holding an auction.
However, as in California, other amendments are being put onto the table that will help protect renters and their items, and to give them a clearer guideline of what is required of them if they should fall behind in their rent.
One thing has been made abundantly clear by all these new and changing laws; storage auctions are flourishing across the country and are more popular than ever. As shows like Storage Hunters and our beloved Storage Wars beamed a spotlight onto the industry, and the economy hit a rocky patch, storage auctions became more mainstream, and the changes currently being put to a vote are necessary to help the laws keep up with the times and the popularity of auctions!
If you’re still feeling confused, don’t worry, you’re not alone! As the laws change, it is important to keep yourself in the loop on the specifics of your state to avoid a messy situation down the road! For more in depth information by state, visit the Self Storage Association.
USA Map: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fatguyinalittlecoat