Storing Items the Smart Way

Preparing To Close Out Your Storage Unit

by Timmothy Pena

Much of the attention on storage units focuses on renting, organizing, and maintaining the unit and your belongings. However, eventually, there will come a time when you have to clear out your storage unit because you're either clearing clutter or because you have finally gotten a residential space that allows you to move everything out.

Moving out sounds simple, and it generally is if you know what you have to do. Your self-storage company may have specific close-out procedures that can prolong the process if you don't remember to take care of them beforehand, and that's something that often trips people up; they forget about giving notice, for example, and they have to pay extra rent. If you start planning the close-out now, before you actually have to take all your stuff out, you'll find the process to go a lot more smoothly.

Proper Notice and Final Rent

Many companies treat unit leases like residential or commercial space month-to-month agreements, requiring 30 days' notice before you close the unit and stop paying rent. If you can give notice just before the start of the next month, the math is easy, and you have only one month to pay before you can stop.

However, if you give notice in the middle of the month, then you have a couple of issues to deal with. One is that you might not be able to give 30 days' notice and expect to pay only a half a month's worth of rent the next month; the storage company may require a full month's rent (thus effectively ending your rental at the end of the month anyway). The other issue is that if you've paid ahead and give notice, you might not get a refund if your preferred end date falls in the second half of the month. For example, if you pay for June on May 15 and then give 30 days' notice on May 25 to close the unit on June 25, you might not get a refund for the rent you paid for that last week in June. All of this should be in your rental agreement.

Tidying the Unit and Doing Walk-Throughs

After you remove your belongings, tidy the unit. You don't have to wash the walls or anything like that; sweeping is usually sufficient. Just make sure there's no trash left behind. Ask the storage facility manager to do a brief walk-through (more of a look-through, really) to ensure you haven't missed anything.

What to Do With the Lock

At most facilities, you own your lock, either because you brought it in or because you purchased the lock when you rented the unit. So, you can take the lock with you. But once the unit is cleared out, keep it locked until the people in the rental office say you no longer need to. You don't want to clean the unit, remove the lock before letting the office know, and then finding out that someone decided to store a few items in the open unit while it was still in your name. Call the office, let them know the unit is empty, and ask if it's OK for you to take your lock and go.