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SpareFoot's Ultimate Guide to Everything Self-Storage.

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Common storage questions: How do I use self-storage? What size storage unit do I need? What kind of lock should I get for my self-storage unit? Do I need a reservation or can I just walk in and rent a space? Do I need climate-control storage?

The Basics

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What is self-storage?

Self-storage lets you store things you don’t have space for. Businesses called “storage facilities” rent storage spaces (typically called “storage units,” or “storage lockers”) to tenants on a short-term basis (often month-to-month).

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How do I use self-storage?

  1. Figure out what you’re storing. (Make sure you know what you can and can’t store.)
  2. Pick the correct storage unit size. (Storage units come in all shapes and sizes. Find the size you need here.)
  3. Identify the amenities you need. (Not sure what climate control means? Confused about 24-hour access? We break it all down here.)
  4. Compare prices in your area and book your storage unit. (Easily compare and book for free with SpareFoot! See how.)
  5. Pack up your stuff. (Educate yourself on recommended methods for packing and storing specialty items like vehicles and wine.)
  6. Rent a moving truck if needed. (Get tips on finding a moving truck here.)
  7. Move in to the facility. (Read more about moving in here.)
  8. Pay your storage rent on time. (Worried about storage auctions? We dispel the myth here.)
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What are the minimum number of months I can rent?

Storage leases are typically month-to-month, so you are not obligated to a set rental length. However, many facilities offer promotions and discounts that require a minimum rental length in order to be redeemed (for example: First month free with two-month minimum). These terms will be detailed on the facility’s listing page on SpareFoot.

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Why should I use self-storage?

There are many reasons why you might need self-storage! Tripping over clutter? You could store that stuff. Need to make room for the baby, or maybe even for Mom or Dad to move in? Put your stuff in storage. It’s the easiest way to make sure your belongings are safe and sound, both temporarily or for the long term.

Want to know a little secret? Storage units are also smart, affordable options for band practice, studio space or even work/office spaces.

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How do I find a self-storage unit?

You can find local storage facilities by thumbing through the phone book, calling around, visiting facilities in person or searching online.

SpareFoot lists all available storage facilities in your area, complete with up-to-date pricing and unit availability.

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How do self-storage leases work?

Self-storage leases are typically month-to-month with some exceptions. In most cases, you can rent for as little or as long as you’d like.

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What are storage auctions?

Storage auctions occur when a tenant fails to pay their bill on time (this is also called being “delinquent”). According to a state’s lien laws, the facility must sell the contents of that unit in a public auction to make up for lost rent.

Storage auctions are held on predetermined days, and auction attendees do not know the exact contents of the unit. Don’t believe what you see on Storage Wars, however—auctions are rarely as exciting as they appear on TV, and storage facilities only hold them as a last resort.

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What happens in the event of a late payment?

This differs from facility to facility. Existing customers should consult their lease agreements for specific details regarding late payments, or contact their properties directly.

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How can I prevent my storage unit from being auctioned?

Pay your monthly storage rent on time. If you’re unable to do so, contact the facility manager as soon as possible to let them know about your situation. Be sure to also review your contract so you know how many days of delinquency are allowed before the auctioning process begins.

Remember: Most facilities do not want to sell your items. The storage auction process is extremely time-consuming and stressful, so most managers will be happy to work with you to come up with a solution. Communication is key!

In the event that your unit goes to auction, it’s important to understand the lien process and the laws surrounding it. Self-storage lien laws differ by state, but most storage auctions follow a similar timeline. Check your state’s lien laws here.

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How do I find storage auctions?

Storage facilities are legally required to post notices of storage auctions taking place. If you’re interested in attending a storage auction, check your local newspapers for ads and announcements from nearby facilities. You can also sign up for an online auction listing service or call a facility directly to inquire about upcoming auctions.

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Do I need a reservation or can I just walk in and rent a space?

Most facilities welcome walk-ins and don’t require a reservation. However, because prices fluctuate often based on demand and availability, we recommend booking beforehand to secure the unit and price before it changes. Use SpareFoot to view and compare units and prices near you, then book online or by phone for free.


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Can I rent a storage unit if I’m not an American citizen?

Most facilities simply require a government-issued ID (like a Passport) to rent. If you’re unsure, contact your storage facility to make sure they accept your form of ID.

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Do I need credit for my storage unit?

No. Storage facilities do not run a credit check when customers sign their lease to get a storage unit.

Some facilities in New York City require a background check for 24-hour access, but only to look for criminal activity, not credit issues. These facilities are usually located below apartment units in NYC.

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