Lien With It, Rock With It: Idaho Storage Lien Laws
Whether you are a storage tenant or an auction hunter, you’re world is going to revolve around the storage lien laws of your particular state. Self-storage lien laws are the legislation that has been put in place to ensure a facility owner rights and privileges to be compensated for the back rent owed by a tenant who has gone completely missing, like Kevin McCallister.
We have been posting to our Facebook asking followers to tell us what topics they want to read about. A fan of ours mentioned that she’d like to know about how Idaho Lien Laws worked in particular. So, this ones for you, JuliAnn Morris!
Step by Step: Idaho Lien Laws Explained
The root of the strangely spelled word “lien” is from Latin ligamen, meaning "to bind or restrain.” Idaho has lien laws that are, well, pretty “lien-ient,” as compared to other states. Liens apply to all sorts of leasing and loan situations. Although many of the self-storage lien documents have common similarities amongst all fifty states, they are each drafted and ratified by that respective state and will contain individual nuances that others may not have.
In the original contract between the person renting the space (“tenant,” or “lessee”) and the facility owner or operator (“lessor”), a statement of these particular laws have to be included. The enforcement of the lien in Idaho occurs when a person has failed to provide payment, be it in person or long distance, for a period of 60 days.
At this point, a facility operator is obligated to give at least another 10 days for the tenant to take action and make a payment. During this time, the FO (“facility owner”) has to send out expressed, written mail to the address the tenant provided in their original contract (“last known address”) providing very specific information. Basically, it will include everything a tenant needs to know about what kind of trouble they are in and exactly how much to pay and who to pay it to. Specifically, this information consists of...
1) the address of the operator who is enforcing the lien, 2) the amount due 3) the deadline to pay it by, which, as mentioned, cannot be any less than 10 days, and 4) Warning that a public auction of their property will take place soon if they do not satisfy at least a payment toward their rent balance.
Incidentally, even the largest storage units, like a 10x30, do not go for much more than $100/month. So, we are not talking about an absurd amount of rent that a tenant owes in a situation like this.
Still no answer from the tenant? Well, they are not in too hot of water yet, although it is reaching a medium boil at this point. Now, the tenant buys themselves another two weeks to do something about their payment delinquency. Again, the operator must take action, this time, to post a conspicuous advertisement in a newspaper that is a preview for the upcoming storage auction.
At this point, if they have not re-locked the unit in question, they have every right to lock a tenant out of their own property, i.e. cut and change the lock.
Even though the tenant should know very well that there rent is overdue at this point, the newspaper advertisement is sort of a last ditch chance to wake them up to what they’ve been snoozing on for two and a half months:
What a Newspaper Legal Ad Consists Of
- The name and address of the tenant.
- A general description of what is inside the unit
- The exact location, date, and time that the property auction will take place. A tenant has up until the start of the auction to rip off a nice, round check for their delinquent rent, regain access to their things, and disperse the eager crowds.
The operator is obliged to post such an ad once a week for two weeks.
This is where Idaho is nothing but nice to a tenant/lessee. In order to thwart any corruption by auctioneers or facility owners trying to eke out any extra profits from the sale, Idaho Code states that the proceeds of the auction (i.e. money paid by the highest bidder for the treasures within) can only go towards meeting the delinquent rent balance, and everything else (overages) will be preserved and kept for the lessee to get some money out of the ordeal of losing their belongings.
Additionally, the tenant will always have been given the opportunity at the beginning of their rental agreement to specify who would claim the overages if they were unable to. If that person is available, then they get the balance from the storage auction.
So, there you have it. A bare minimum of 84 total days from the first overdue payment to the beginning of the property auction. Keep in mind, it is not always out of pure stupidity that tenants refuse or fail to pay their two months of delinquent rent. Often, it may be the case that they just do not care anymore, have moved, been incarcerated and forgotten about their things, or just have been caught in a conundrum where they cannot quite justify paying the $200 or so, as well as perform the labor, to evacuate their things out again. This is always their personal decision and they have all of the time in the world to think it over and make the best possible one.
Consider Florida's storage lien laws and see that Idaho is extremely liberal in comparison. In Florida, a tenant can be locked out of their unit after 5 days of non payment and their things up for auction in as quickly as four weeks, following the same procedures basically as Idaho, but beginning much sooner than 60 days of initial delinquency.
At any rate, this information is valuable to Idaho storage hunters, especially after winning a unit. We would recommend asking a few questions to the facility operator when you have closed a unit, to make sure the proper paperwork and timeline has been followed so that you don't caught up in a "wrongful sale" lawsuit. They don't happen often, but when they do, they are a headache and a half.
So, JoAnn and other Idaho-ians, we hope you can apply what you know to your storage hunts. More importantly, we hope that you now have a clean conscience knowing just how much time and strain a facility operator goes through just get his rental space back. Cheers and happy hunting.
David Gross, Content Writer