Mini Storage Owners: Why and How to Hold an Auction

By | June 30, 2017

Are you a mini storage or a self-storage owner? If so, do you have a number of nonpaying clients? If so, you may be wondering what your options are. After all, the longer a storage bay is unpaid for, but still in use, the more money you lose.

Although you are urged to first check your state’s laws, you should be able to host a mini storage auction. Most states do allow these auctions, but you may face some rules and restrictions. You may have to wait a set period of time before hosting an unpaid storage auction. Or, you may have to make multiple attempts to contact the default renters.

It is also recommended that you closely examine your rental contracts. Do you state what happens if payment is not made? If not, you can still hold an auction, but only after making multiple attempts to contact the renter. After a certain period of time, it is considered that they abandoned their property.

In keeping with contracts, if you do not have public storage auctions listed as a consequence for unpaid bills, redo your contracts. Add this important fact. Sometimes it will be enough to get your customers to pay their bills on time. Plus, there are always those who are upset and try to protest these auctions, especially if they weren’t written in their contract.

If your state does not have specific laws on the abandonment of property, 90 days is a good date to decide on. This is about three months that your renters had to pay their bill, but opted not to. Starting at the second month, make multiple attempts to contact the current renters. Start sending out warning letters and try to place multiple phone calls. Leave messages when possible. When doing so, be friendly. Spin it as if you are trying to help your clients save their belongings.

If you do opt to host a mini storage auction, decide how you want to sell. Should you auction off individual sealed bins or whole storage units? Since many units may have large furniture inside, it may be best to host an auction where bidders buy all the contents inside a bay. They are more popular and may draw a larger crowd, as bidders see this approach as getting a better deal.

Next, decide how you want the auction run. Will you handle the bidding yourself or hire a third-party auction house? Will you take live or sealed bids? It is recommended that you only accept cash, as it is quick, easy, and convenient.

It is also important to set a deadline for buyers. Give them a specific amount of time to remove their newly purchased merchandise from your property. Remember the quicker your unpaid storage units are emptied, the sooner you can start renting them to paying customers. On average, most storage companies give their bidders 24 hours.

Although optional, you may want to rent a dumpster. This is a good idea if you have multiple storage bays to auction off. There will always be junk that people do not want to take home or try to resell. Advertising that you have a dumpster onsite will generate interest. Many will see it as a quick and easy way to get rid of junk. Just make sure that you charge a small fee for use to help recoup the costs.

Make it known before the start of the auction that all personal documents need to be turned into you or discarded immediately. This is important, as some people store their personal and financial documents in mini storage units. Do not take the risk of being held liable if someone becomes the victim of identity theft.

Finally, market your auctions to the general public. Put signage in front of your business, use the internet, post fliers on community message boards, or take out a newspaper classified ad. Once your public storage auction is announced to the general public, you just have to sit back and wait. When the auction arrives and if everything goes as plans, you should not only recoup your losses, but make a profit too.

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