When you rent a self-storage unit, you’re agreeing to certain penalties in the event of non-payment–including the possibility of a storage auction. How do storage auctions work? And what should you do if your stuff is up for auction?
Reality TV has taken storage auction shows to the next level. They are a good representation of how storage auctions work and the potential profits that buyers can make from them. While it may be a lucrative business opportunity for some, it can also prove to be a frustrating situation for others. It is important to understand both sides when discussing storage auctions.
This is the definitive guide for auction hunters and storage unit renters alike. We also provide information about storage auctions and how they work.
Why storage auctions take place
Each storage company will have its own rules and regulations. Although the exact terms of self-storage renting can vary, they can expect to have a set amount of time to pay their rent every month. If they don’t, their unit will be up for auction, often at the point where their payment is 30 to 90 days late. A storage auction may also be possible if the renter clears out their unit, but leaves some items behind.
There are state laws as well that regulate how long a renter must pay before an auction can be held. These laws go beyond company policies. The storage facility operator must try to reach the renter during this time and get payment. They may offer alternative options such as a payment plan if rent is not paid because of financial hardship.
Two-fold purpose of storage auctions: To help companies recover lost profits from non-payment and also to clear out the unit for future renters. This is an alternative to sending items to the landfill, particularly if they have value or can be used.
You should contact the facility immediately if you are unable or unwilling to pay for your storage unit. Otherwise, your unit will go into default and you will be locked out of your possessions. For details on the terms and policies of your agreement, read your contract. If you are unable to pay your monthly payments, be ready to move out.
How storage auctions function
There are three parts to storage auctions:
- The pre-auction period
- The auction itself
- The period after auction
Storage companies will post the auction notice and arrange for an auctioneer during the pre-auction period. If you are interested in bidding, there will be a list of auctions posted on aggregate sites such as Storage Treasures. This makes it easy to see when and where the auctions are being held. Although some storage auctions are conducted online, many are held on-site.
Auctions require that bidders register in advance. Check the auction details to determine if this has to be done in person or online. Although rules may differ, the general rule is that an individual must be 18 years old to participate in the auction. They must also have a valid driver’s license.
The storage company will lock the unit and let potential bidders have a peek inside. It is important to remember that bidders are not allowed to view the contents of the unit from within the storage company. Online storage auctions will include a photograph of the interior of the unit. However, it won’t give any details about the contents.
Bidding is governed by a variety of rules to ensure fairness.
- Bidders are required to place bids on whole units and not on individual items.
- The winner is the highest bidder. He must pay the entire amount in cash, starting with a deposit and ending with the full payment on-site.
- The unit is usually cleared out within 24 to 48 hours of the winning bidder being notified.
- All bids must be open for all to see and sealed bids will not be accepted
The price of a storage unit going up for auction is heavily dependent on the bidders and the potential value they see within. An empty storage unit might sell for $10 while one that is full of potential high-priced items may fetch $1,000.
The period after the auction
There are rules about how storage auctions work. But there are also rules about what items can be used. The storage facility must keep any important documents, such as birth certificates or family photos, from the former renter. They will then try to return them to their owners. If firearms are found, they should be turned over to law enforcement.
Vehicles cannot be driven off the lot because they don’t have a title and must be sold as parts.
You should be aware that rules can vary depending on where you live and what storage company you are working for, but these requirements are fairly standard. The winning bidders might also have to pay a cleaning fee at the storage facility and a potential sales tax.
What should you do if your stuff is being auctioned
No one wants to find themselves in a situation where their belongings are up for sale. However, storage auctions are quite common and there is a large market for bidders looking for new auctions.
It is important to act quickly if your storage unit looks at risk of being put up for auction, especially if your storage provider has notified you that you have reached the limit on overdue payments. Your unit will be sold if you don’t pay the balance. Companies would prefer that your unit is paid in full.
To see the length of time your storage unit will remain locked if you fail to pay your rent, refer to your storage lease agreement. If you have the time and are able to pay your rent on time, you can ask to remove any or all of your belongings.
Storage auction FAQs
Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about storage auctions
When will storage lockers be auctioned?
It depends on the facility, the state laws and how long it takes before storage auctions take place. However, the average time before storage auctions take place is between 30 and 90 days following an overdue payment.
What happens if a renter dies and a storage unit is left empty?
The storage company will contact the family members of a deceased renter to see if they are able to continue to pay for the unit or get rid of it. The unit will be put up for auction if these efforts fail.
Are storage operators allowed to remove valuables before an auction?
It is unlikely that any storage operator would interfere with the auctioned unit in any way. Remember that auctions are not an option for businesses, but a last resort.
How much do storage companies make from an auction?
How do you know what is inside a storage container?
It can be difficult to see what is inside a storage unit and how much it may be worth. To get a better view of the items, bring a flashlight. Also, be sure to arrive early to the auction, as units are often sealed before bidding begins.
You can find more information about storage auctions by looking at the policies of different storage companies. If you are interested in bidding, search for storage auctions close to you to see where they are being held.
This post was written by a professional at Greenbar Secure Storage. Greenbar Secure Storage has a wide range of storage units available in Prineville, Oregon. They offer a variety, including ground-level access, security cameras, 24/7 accessibility, and parking spaces. Locally owned and operated, we are the best choice for convenient and clean storage units Redmond Oregon area. All of our commercial storage clients accept deliveries from businesses.