Apr 122009
Authors: Kathleen Harward

Q: I’m planning to put my belongings in a storage unit for the summer. What should I look out for?

A: First, make sure you deal with a reputable business. Do they use written contracts? Do they have staff available during regular hours? Do they have a good record with the Better Business Bureau?

Second, buy renter’s insurance (only $120/year). Storage businesses do not guarantee the safety of your belongings; most do not provide any security. Your belongings are only a padlock away from a thief with bolt cutters. Renter’s insurance will cover the value of your belongings should they be damaged or stolen and will keep on protecting you when you move back into living quarters.

Third, pay your monthly fee without fail. Set it up as an automatic payment through your bank if that helps you.

Learn from this true experience of a fellow student:

Frugal was leaving town for an internship out of state. Short on money, he selected the very cheapest storage units in town. He ignored the warning bells and had to go back to the business several times before he found anyone to help him.

The woman he finally found gave him a unit and took his money without giving him anything in writing. The “office” looked more like a dumping ground for junk and garbage than an office.

When Frugal returned months later, he found his unit secured by a strange lock, not his own. He tried reaching the proprietor by phone and made several visits to the premises in search of someone to help. His voicemail messages went unanswered, and he never found anyone on site to help.

Frugal sought legal advice and was warned that if he cut the lock himself without the proprietor’s assent, he’d be at risk for criminal charges. Frugal’s dilemma: Risk charges, cut the lock and immediately find out if your stuff is inside, or, go through legal channels.

After three months of legal channels, Frugal cut the lock with a police officer standing by and was lucky to find that most of his possessions were there. In the meantime, he lived without a bed and other essential items.

Take the time to do it right.

If you have any legal questions, come to Student Legal Services in Room 182 of the Lory Student Center and visit us at http://sls.colostate.edu.

Kathleen Harward is the director of Student Legal Services. SLS’ column appears biweekly Mondays in the Collegian. Send your burning legal questions to kathleen.harward@colostate.edu. Other letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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