The storage door rolls open and immediately you know you want this unit. Brand name boxes galore - everything from Sony and Pottery Barn to Ralph Lauren shoe boxes. But take a second look before you assume you just made this months rent.
Given the recent interest in storage auctions, it's no surprise that the frequency of scams has increased. We've already warned you about staged units and pilfered lockers, but you also need to beware of tenant scams. Recall that when a unit sells for more than the amount owed to the storage facility any additional money goes to the tenant. On occasion, a tenant may allow a unit to go delinquent to make a profit.
If the tenant simply abandons the unit to allow it to go to auction, you as a bidder are not in danger. But if someone collected brand name boxes, and deliberately placed them in a unit to generate higher bids, then you'll overpay for a unit full of empty boxes.
We don't mean to suggest that this is the norm, but it does happen. Here's a few tips to help you avoid tenant scams.
#1 Scrutinize every unit. Don't be dazzled by brand name boxes - always consider whether the unit looks natural. Are all the brand names facing you so you can easily read them? Is there anything to indicate the boxes have anything inside of them? Does the unit look too clean to be a genuine storage unit? Too empty to justify the cost of paying monthly rent?
#2 Find out how long the unit has been rented. If the unit was only rented three or four months ago (just long enough for the unit to end up at auction) then bells should go off.
#3 Find out how much delinquent rent is due. If the rent due is $500 but the unit would likely only go for $500 or less, it's not likely a tenant scam because the tenant won't make any money. On the other hand, if the tenant got their first month free or for $1, then their delinquent rent might only be $100 and they could make an easy (albeit unethical) $400.
Protecting You on Auction Day,
Your Storage Treasures Crew
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Here are a few links you might find useful:
Professional Self Storage Auction Tips
How To Locate A Storage Auction
Self Storage Units Containing Cars