The PA Self-Service Storage Facility Act was passed in 1982. Since then, groups such as the Pennsylvania Self Storage Association have assisted the General Assembly in crafting an act which crucially protects storage facility owners against loss resulting from defaulting storage unit occupants. What are some of the easy steps you, as a storage facility owner, can take to protect against losses?
STEP ONE: Owners should make sure your lease agreement spells out, in bold font, that you have a lien on ALL of the personal property in the rental unit for rent, labor, expenses for storing the property, and expenses for the sale of the property. This puts the occupant on notice that you, as the owner, have a lien against their personal property if they default on rent payments.
STEP TWO: It is vitally important that you, as the owner, put the defaulting occupant on NOTICE of their default, so you can take action to prevent lost profits. The Act, as amended in 2014, requires an owner to give written notice of both:
- the occupant’s default; AND
- any action you take in regard to the occupant’s personal property in the rental space.
This Notice must be properly mailed through the United States Postal Service, and properly addressed with prepaid postage. The Act enumerates specific requirements for sending Notice by e-mail as well. The Notice must be sent to the occupant’s last known address.
STEP THREE: What needs to be in the Notice? If you as the owner do not put the following into your Notice, there is a risk that you will not be able to recoup your losses from a defaulting occupant.
(1) An itemized statement of sum due at the time the notice was sent and when the sum became due,
(2) A specific time that you demand payment is due by [not less than 30 days after the date of notice],
(3) A statement that the personal property in the occupant’s leased space are subject to the your lien,
(4) Your name, street address and telephone number, so the occupant can respond to your Notice,
(5) A flashy statement in bold print that states what will happen if the amount due is not paid by the occupant at the end of the time you gave them [or at least 30 days], and that personal property will be advertised for sale or will be otherwise disposed of at a specified time and place, and
(6) If you are preventing the occupant from entering their space, and/or have moved their personal property to another unit [pending sale or disposition] you must also state that in the Notice.
STEP FOUR: When the occupant has been in continuous default for 20 days, you have the right deny the occupant access to their rental unit. When the occupant has been in continuous default for 30 days, you can also enter the rental unit, remove the occupant’s personal property, and store it in a different space pending its sale.
STEP FIVE: If you have not otherwise disposed of the occupant’s personal property by the time stated in your Notice runs out, the Act allows you to sell the contents of the occupant’s rental unit. The Act requires that you post a Notice of Sale. The Notice of Sale must state:
- A General description of the contents of the occupant’s rental unit,
- The address of your storage facility, the name of the occupant, and the number or description of the occupant’s rental unit, AND
- The time, place, and the specific way you will sell the property [public/private auction].
This Notice of Sale must be posted in the local newspaper at least two times before the sale. The Sale cannot be within 10 days before the Notice of Sale was published. If the sale does not happen, you must give written notice to the occupant of another way you plan to dispose of their personal property that was in the rental unit.
STEP SIX: The occupant can pay you the full amount due to redeem their property before it is sold or disposed of. If the occupant pays you all monies due, and all reasonable expenses you incurred, you must then turn the property over to them.
If you have any questions about a Pennsylvania self-service storage facility or unit, contact the experienced lawyers at Trinity Law at 717.843.8046 or www.TrinityLaw.com.