If tenant property is damaged or stolen from a storage unit, what party is held accountable? Typically, fault falls on the customer side. However, in rare instances if the loss results from the facility owner’s negligence, then things can get dicey. In many of these cases, the problems can be found and vetted out well before they arise. And sometimes, these problems can be identified and solved simply by rereading and striking out a few lines from a facility’s rental agreement. What? Removing content from a rental agreement? Yes. Besides, most everyone is familiar with the KISS acronym – for those who aren’t, it’s “keep it simple, stupid.”
From a legal rational, you want the renter to be accountable for as much as possible. One sure-fire way to get caught in a firestorm down the road is to allow authorized access to multiple personnel on the same unit. You can avoid this altogether by only allowing one signee per contract. Now, you might be thinking, “just because only one person signed the contract doesn’t mean multiple people won’t access the storage unit.” After all, the facility doesn’t own the contents of active tenant units and it’s unrealistic to police visitors. Plus, any owner would be naïve to assume that only their tenants enter their facilities. If provided the access code and a set of keys, ‘trusted’ family members, friends, co-workers and just about anyone may enter at will.
The problem with authorizing multiple people on same unit involves the creation of potentially dangerous assumptions:
• Your services extend to multiple parties
• Each party may possess equal right to the storage unit
• The relationship of the co-signees could change
• You’re in charge of identifying authorized personnel
But what if a wife, husband or other close family member arrives at your facility and demands immediate access to the storage unit? This is a sticky situation because you could end up in major legal trouble if you listen to the wrong person. On the flipside, you could tarnish your relationship with the renter if you reject their stand-in. A simple solution can resolve this double-edged sword of a dilemma. Instead of allowing authorized access, make an amendment in the contract explaining that the only way someone other than the leaser may obtain access by the operator is if they posses a notarized letter of permission. Be sure to verbally address this rule during all signings. That way, if someone shows up empty-handed and without the appropriate access code, key or other legal document, you as the operator are not obligated to grant access.
Remember: one name, one storage unit.
About The Author