There seem to be two distinct categories of people at the moment, those who are finding that they have more free time during lockdown and those who feel they are busier than ever! If you fall into the first category, you may think that this is the perfect time for a bit of sorting out at home, especially if spending more time there has meant you need to re-deploy some space, for home-working or home-schooling.
With recycling centres and charity shops closed, another option for getting things out of the way until you can pass them on or dispose of them could be self-storage.
In terms of the lockdown, self-storage facilities are for the most part remaining open. This is because they are not retail businesses and can be considered an essential service for some shops, tradesmen and transport companies who are performing essential work, storing or distributing essential supplies. Many storage facilities are also still accepting orders for new customers. In terms of whether travelling to a self-storage facility constitutes an essential journey – that is perhaps open to debate.
So, does that mean you are allowed to visit your self-storage whilst lock down continues if you are an individual?
The guidance from the Self-Storage Association (SSA) to storage operators is that they are able to remain open. Below is an extract from their website:
‘Advise your customers that while the store remains open it is only for essential services people and businesses that are allowed to remain open under the government advice. Residential customers should be deterred from accessing their units unless they have a critical reason to do so.’
There are some circumstances where, as a residential customer, it may be appropriate to visit your self-storage facility whilst restrictions are in place.
Some examples we have thought about which you could argue are essential would be:
- If you have had to start working from home and need to create space to accommodate an office.
- If you were due to move into a new house and need to temporarily store your belongings or furniture pending a new moving date.
- You have had to return home from university of college and need to store your belongings until you are able to return.
Things which are unlikely to be deemed essential:
- Travelling to and accessing your storage space to get hobby materials for recreational purposes.
- Using your storage facility as a place of work.
- Using your self-storage as a place to exercise or train.
Unfortunately, there are unlikely to be any official, definitive answers to the question of what is deemed essential in terms of self-storage beyond those which are clearly outlined in the government guidance. A general rule of thumb which has been cited is, if you are in doubt as to whether a journey is essential, it probably isn’t!
If you do plan to visit your storage facility, it is probably a good idea to contact them in advance to check whether they are maintaining the same opening hours and whether access is affected in any way. Due to social distancing, storage facilities may have fewer staff than usual and this may affect your ability to access the facility.
One final note, if you are adding items to those already in storage, make sure that you update your storage insurance to reflect the new value of those items which are being stored. If you have an inventory of those stored goods, that should also be updated to show any new items stored. Remember it is necessary to insure the contents for their full replacement value.