Kill Them With Kindness…Dealing With Previous Tenants

uncertaintyAt Storage Unit Auction List, we hear the same worry and/or complaint from storage auction hunters and resellers. They often wonder what they should do regarding previous tenants and returning personal paperwork and mementos to these buyers.

From critics of the storage unit auction industry, we often hear complaints about the basics of the business. They wonder, rather vocally, how others can make a profit from the misfortune of others. From others who are considering getting into the industry, we often hear that they are hesitant to get started for the same reason. They worry about having to come face to face with the previous tenant and any ensuing altercations that might arise as a result of winning the storage unit contents.

The reality of the business is that self storage facilities are required to complete a thorough lien process according to their state laws. These lien processes do vary by state, but in most instances, they require the facility to take several steps and make contact with the tenant many times over, before finally being forced to cut the lock from the storage unit.

Facility staff are required to contact the tenant by phone, by mail, and through public notices for several months before they must recoup their losses by locking the tenant out of the unit and holding a storage auction.

Tenants have multiple opportunities to pay their fees and/or clean out their units before they reach the storage auction stage. Many tenants simply choose to abandon their units rather than paying late fees. In some instances, a tenant doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of cleaning out a unit and have no attachment to the items inside. In these instances, they may ask to remove the bits of mementos and personal paperwork that they want to hold on to, and simply surrender the unit to the facility. Many times, the tenant simply moves without a thought to the unit. The facility can then no longer contact them, but they do publish a series of public notices in local newspapers and comparable online locations.

shaking hands

While in many instances the storage unit has been abandoned, in other instances, there might be a tenant willing to pay their late fees or buy back their items, or someone who simply wants to collect their photos and personal paperwork. As a storage auction hunter, how should you handle being approached by the tenant on the day of the storage auction, or in subsequent days?

It is always best to kill them with kindness. Lost In Storage is a great resource that allows you to send back personal affects without having to come face to face with a previous tenant and wind up in an awkward situation. This service allows both you and tenants to post lost and found items from within storage units and to send those contents to previous tenants with anonymity.

In some instances, a tenant may show up at the self storage facility on the day of the auction or in the days following the auction and want to know who purchased their units. In most instances, a facility will not give out your information to a previous tenant, but what if they do, or what if the facility calls you and asks if you’re willing to sell back the items to the previous tenant?

There is no hard and fast rule in the business and it all depends on what you’re comfortable with. If the tenant or facility calls you with this type of proposition, don’t say no right away. If the tenant is reasonable and willing to buy back some of their items, you can make a deal with them and arrange to meet them to complete the transaction. In a lot of cases, they may only care about one or two large ticket items and this allows you to begin to make a profit, while still being fair to the previous tenant and allowing them the opportunity to get their items back. The tenant would have been required to pay fees to the facility prior to the auction, so they may be more than willing to pay you for the items instead.


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