What Happens to Abandoned Storage Units?

Storage units have really taken off in popularity over the past few decades.  Whereas storage units used to be for businesses to keep excess inventories and other supplies, now they are more often than not used to keep old items that are clogging up your home.  And very often, they are all but forgotten until the day comes when the person renting it forgets to pay the monthly fee or just abandons the unit.  But what happens when a storage unit is abandoned?  The answer is very vague since most states (and even some counties) have different ordinances and laws governing these units.
Generally, if you stop paying for the rental on a storage unit, there is a grace period that comes into play.  This is all set out in the contract that you signed up front with the storage management company.  If it is impossible for the manager to contact you through mail or phone, they may take out an ad in the local paper, but this is a rarity.  All that is usually required is that they make a good-faith effort to get in contact with you.
Once they have tried to make this good-faith effort, and if you do not respond, then chances are you can say good-bye to your stuff.  Most of the times, the storage unit will be auctioned off and someone will bid on the rights to claim to your belongings.  This could happen immediately or it could happen after several months.  Sometimes, units with high turn-over will have monthly or semi-annual “clearance” auctions to make room for new renters.  Whatever the terms are, you will fine them spelled-out plainly in the fine print of your contract.
If you are paying for your storage unit with auto-pay, then the monthly fees are conveniently deducted each month and you usually don’t have to worry about defaulting on the unit.  However, if the credit card you used to set up the billing is cancelled or expires, then the company will try it once, see that it is no longer valid, and then move to the next step in the process to get rid of your stuff.  If you are using such a billing system, it is imperative that you update the storage center with your credit card information every time it changes.  Otherwise, you could very easily wind up with your stuff being sold at auction before you even know it.

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