Who is Responsible if a Storage Unit gets Broken Into

The security of a storage facility is of utmost importance because the items stored are at risk of theft or damage. Although most facilities provide adequate security features, they are often broken into. The responsibility of taking care of the belongings depends on the contract and the state laws. 

Both the storage facility company and the owner of the items can be responsible for the protection of items. Sometimes, the storage unit insurance policy can protect you financially from theft and vandalism.  If the storage company was negligent, then they bear the responsibility.  

Are storage units liable for break-ins?

The storage facility is liable for break-ins that result from negligence. Negligence will include leaving the gate open, locks unlocked and non-functional cameras. Thieves target storage units because they have many items in one place, which could be expensive. Some of them also have unsecure systems that make it easy for thieves to break into.

The burglars will break into storage units in metropolitan, suburban, and even rural areas in the country. Many of the break-ins go unreported, which means that the number is higher. Most units are burglarized by cutting off the locks, prying off the latches, and unscrewing the metal paneling.  They are easier to break into if the facility is in bad shape and the structure has not been maintained.  

These are the reasons that make the storage facility susceptible to break-ins;  

  • Using typical locks that can be breakable. 
  • Negligence and lack of proper maintenance. The gates and doors are left open; the fences are unsecured. 
  • Lack of updated technological and coded systems to monitor any break-ins or interference.

The break can also happen even with the most secure storage facility.    

How often do storage units get broken into

Storage units get broken into often, especially if they don’t have minimum security measures in place. The store facilities without essential security features like cameras and gates are more prone to break-ins. 

The thieves usually do this by cutting the locks and climbing over the storage units. These breaks occur frequently and are widespread nationwide. The theft problems can be mitigated by due diligence before storing your items.

Here are the tips to help with preparing for storage; 

  • Prepare the items for storage and create an inventory list-Determine the items to store according to the list provided by the storage facility. Make an inventory list of all the items you intend to store before packing them. A copy of this list should be left with the storage facility.
  • Place the items in boxes-Use airtight plastic boxes or bins. Clear boxes are easier to use than cardboard boxes when retrieving items. They should be able to withstand the long-term storage of your items. Also, make sure you label them clearly.  
  • Place the items strategically in the unit– Consider placing the heavier items at the bottom and the lighter ones and the top. Avoid placing items directly on the floor to prevent bugs and insects. You should also consider using shelves, especially for small items.

To reduce the chances of your storage unit being broken into, secure it by; 

  • Using secure locks – Cylinder and internal locks are more secure than usual ones. Cylinder locks cannot be cut and are, therefore, hard to break into. When you use additional securing inside the door, it makes it harder for thieves. Internal hidden locks with no visible locks or chains
  • Setting your own surveillance systems – You can set your own technological surveillance and alarms, such as cloud surveillance and triggered physical measures.
  • Personal oversight – You should visit the storage facility regularly and check the items. Also, properly organize the items and consider removing the more valuable and expensive items.

Sometimes, it takes weeks and months for the break-in to be noticed by the tenant. The break-in causes devastation since some items are irreplaceable, and the insurance cannot cover them.  

Can you sue a storage facility for theft?

The storage facility’s owner is usually not liable for the theft of the goods. However, the terms of the contract determine who is liable for stolen goods according to the contract. The law determines if the storage facility is liable if there is no clause. The landlord is negligent if he did not provide reasonable security features such as video surveillance, the gate being left open, or the door was not secure.

In most contracts, a clause states that goods are stored at the owner’s risk.  In such a case, the storage company is not liable for the loss unless there is negligence. Some contracts require the tenants to insure their own goods with the renter’s insurance policy or some homeowner’s policy. The problems covered by the such policy include; theft, vandalism, fire, lightning, wind, etc. Some problems excluded include; neglect, intentional loss, poor maintenance, power failure, and insects and rodents.

It is unlikely for the storage company to admit liability for the goods even though they were negligent; that is when you need professional help to sue. An attorney will be useful in helping determine who is liable for the theft according to the local laws and state laws. The storage facility should take you through the process of applying for an insurance claim. Most insurance policies will compensate claims against theft, arson, vandalism, and other illegal activity, although the scope may be limited.  

How to get your stuff back from a storage auction?

Once auctioned, the contents of your storage unit belonging to the new owner except for valuable items. Personal items such as photographs and personal documents are available to the owner. Sometimes, the storage operator may not remove the personal items because they do not want to interfere. It’s, therefore, the duty of the owner to remove it before the auction.

You can contact the storage company to see if a payment plan can secure your valuables. You can also ask if you can remove some of your valuable items. You will be notified of the auction of your goods before the date. The lease agreement will state the number of days after nonpayment that the goods will be auctioned. 

How long can storage keep my items safe?

The period by which you can keep your items in a storage facility before they are auctioned depends on the state laws in which the storage facility is located. The laws outline the rules, regulations, and procedures for auctioning the items.

In most cases, the period is 30- 90 days past the due date, that you should pay the amount that you owe to the storage facility. Once the days are over, the storage facility will send you a pre-lien notice before the auction date. The notice should also include the payments that are due. The notice can be sent through email or address. It will also be sent to your alternative contacts.   

Alternatively, you can check notifications and announcements in the newspaper. 

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