When buying a car, purchasing large items of furniture or even booking a holiday we always shop around to ensure that we are getting a good product that meets our needs.
Deciding on what storage unit to rent is no different, there are many things to consider. So, in order to assist you in finding the perfect storage space for your possessions we have created a 101 guide to storage rental with all the things you need to know before signing that lease agreement.
Know your requirements
When it comes to requirements, we are not necessarily talking about knowing what you are storing (although knowing what you are storing will certainly help in determining what type of storage you need!). In this instance the requirements we are talking about are more specific, for example:
- Do you need access to the site 24 hours a day?
- Does the site need to be accessible by vehicle?
- Are you willing to travel further for a more suitable provider?
- Do you need the site to be managed or staffed?
- Do you need specific security in place?
Once you have a clear outline of your requirments, it will be easier to find storage sites more appropriate to your needs.
What do I need to rent self-storage?
In most cases, when applying for self-storage, any reputable storage provider will ask for a deposit up-front and two forms of ID - one with a photo (driving license, passport etc) and one with an address (recent bank statement, utility bill etc). You will also be required to sign a storage agreement and/or contract which will be legally binding. Check out our Quick Guide on Storage Unit Lease Agreements & Contracts for more in-depth information on what to expect.
Many storage providers now expect payment to be by direct debit so you will need to have a bank account as many providers will not accept cheques and, since COVID, are now cash free (particularly with unsupervised sites).
You will also need storage insurance, which leads us onto the next section...
What will I be paying?
Not a simple question to answer, however most storage provider fees are broken down into the following three areas:
- Basic storage costs - Costs for storage will be based on the size of storage you need and how long you need it for. Mostly charged on a weekly or monthly basis and paid by direct debit.
- Specific requirements- Any specific needs such as climate control or a serviced building will be in addition to the basic storage cost.
- Storage insurance - You will also need to purchase storage insurance as no reputable provider will take on your storage without this in place. However what many people do not know is that it is much better value for money to use a specialist storage insurance provider like Store Insure than that of the storage provider, and, our insurance often offers much more protection - Get a quote and buy online for instant cover and protection.
Be cautious of hidden costs, many providers will automatically tack insurance onto the quote unless you specifically say no. It is also not compulsory to take out the providers insurance, only compulsory that you must have it.
Access to storage
Accessing your storage unit is a big part of deciding on which storage provider to use and covers a number of areas.
- 24 hour access - If you are looking to access your possessions outside of the usual working hours (i.e 0800 - 1800) then you would need to check that your chosen provider can accommodate this. In most instances, 24/7 access is not included in a standard storage lease agreement, however many providers do offer this for a small additional fee (which can be purchased when signing the lease or as an ‘add-on’ at a later date). Bear in mind that in order to maintain the safety and security of their sites, most storage providers will need this to be arranged prior to requirement.
- Who can access my storage? - Deciding who can access your storage unit is also worth noting as the response is mixed. Some storage providers are happy for you to give details of your unit to others, providing that they are named on your account and agreed beforehand. Other providers are more strict and prefer only the named tenant to access the unit. Again when it comes to children, find out beforehand whether they are allowed on site. Going against these rules could result in breaching your lease agreement and invalidating your storage insurance.
- Vehicular access vs pedestrian access- Not all sites have vehicular access straight to your storage unit. Usually this is only available at larger internal and external sites. If you are storing large items of furniture that last thing you want to do is carry it across the facility. Some units will offer trolleys/trucks to assist with the moving of boxes when there is no vehicular access, however this is not mandatory and is always best to check prior to signing. To see the differences between storage types view our blog post Quick Guide: Self Storage Types.
Getting your items into storage
Once you have signed the lease agreement, getting your items to your chosen storage provider will be your responsibility. Due to the health and safety of their employees (understandably) and insurance terms, most storage providers will not offer assistance with moving your items when at the unit, however most will usually provide trucks and pallet trolleys at the site which are free to use.
This does not mean that storage providers cannot help in other ways, when asked, they can usually provide the details of reputable nearby companies that will be able to assist with transporting and moving your items straight to your storage unit for an agreed price.
Taking it a step further, there are now companies that will collect your boxed items direct from your doorstep, transport them to a storage facility and pack them away without you even having to leave your house.
What can I store?
The easiest way to answer this question is to list what you cannot store. All storage providers are different and apart from a few variations specific to the storage provider (which should be listed within the lease agreement/policy), most storage facilities in the UK agree on the same prohibited items:
- Any living creatures
- Combustible, flammable or toxic substances
- Illegal or counterfeit items
- Perishable food items (many will accept non-perishable items)
- Money and securities
Storing any items prohibited by your storage provider will invalidate both your lease agreement and storage insurance. To find out what we at Store Insure cover, a copy of our policy wording with a full breakdown of items can be found here, alternatively use ‘Quote and Buy Online’ service for a full quote and instant cover.
For more a more in-depth look at storage lease agreements and contracts view our blog post Quick Guide: Self Storage Lease Agreements and Contracts. Further information, resources and tips on how to store specific items can be found on our blog page.
When it comes to ending your lease agreement with the storage provider, you will be asked to give written notice - an email will usually suffice. Most providers will accept seven days written notice for smaller units and up to a month for larger units. Once the unit has been cleared, you will need to ensure that it is handed over to the provider in its original state and provided all is ok, your deposit should be returned to you.
Most storage facilities often work on a rolling contract system, where your direct debit payment will renew automatically unless otherwise advised. However if you have paid up front for a fixed period and want to exit early, it is up to the storage provider to determine how much you will be refunded. Most providers will refund the remaining rent minus any costs incurred, although some may only offer a partial-refund and may even have penalties for exiting early. This will be detailed in your original lease agreement so if you err on the side of caution and want to rent longer than you may need, establish these details before signing the agreement.
The Store Insure blog has a huge range of information on storage insurance and self storage, as well as practical tips, guides and resources for anyone considering using self storage. Our Quick Guides offer important and useful advice in an easy-to-read, no-nonsense manner and covers topics such as storage insurance, lease agreements and storage types.