Rebecca Garland
Rebecca Garland
Business and Education Expert

People tend to accumulate belongings, often leading to a need for additional space, such as storage units. This demand has driven the storage industry to significant heights, with the Global Self-Storage Market reaching $63.60 billion in 2022. 

While these facilities address storage needs for many families, there are plenty of storage unit issues to consider before moving household items into them. We dug into the various problems reported by customers through PissedConsumer. With more than 8,000 reviews in the Moving and Storage category across 600 different companies, consumer insights highlight industry trends and concerns. By understanding them, you can select the facility that best suits your needs.

Key Insights

  • Self-storage units are hugely prevalent and popular, making them a common way to store unused items.
  • The most in-demand cities for self-storage include New York, NY, Chicago, IL, Houston, TX, Las Vegas, NV, and San Antonio, TX.
  • The most common storage unit issues typically involve damage from temperature changes, rain or water, mold, and security risks.

Are Storage Units Safe?

When determining whether storage units are safe, considerations go beyond just the risk of theft. Storage spaces that are not climate-controlled can fluctuate in temperature and humidity dramatically, causing items to warp, mold, or mildew.

There is a risk of roof leaks or significant rain, allowing water to penetrate the storage space. Additionally, there is a chance that pests or vermin, like roaches, rats, or mice, might make a home in your unit. Finally, there is a concern that storage facilities might become a part of moving scams, leading to the loss of your items. 

Top Issues with Storage Units

Whether you’re renting big or small storage units, there is always a risk that something goes wrong. Here you will find the most common issues based on customer experiences.

Storage unit issues with security

Security Issues

Storing your items out of your sight increases the risk that they will disappear. Thieves may break in, and vandalism can occur when things are damaged or accidentally harmed as hundreds of visitors go in and out of the storage unit spaces.

Customers check for security features before renting a space, including limited access points, cameras, on-site monitoring, and gate or door codes, but even with these features, unauthorized access can occur. 

One CubeSmart customer moved their ATV into a storage unit only to have it “stolen 7 hours after first being placed.” The customer felt the storage facility was guilty for the problem arisen:

The management has not been very conforming at all with this issue which to me is a big issue. I sent them 3 letters explaining why they were at fault with their inadequate security…

The customer eventually took them to court over the loss, but due to the agreements signed by the customer, “the outcome was a ruling or the defendant.”

In review #5684548, the customer's belongings were safe in the storage unit, but their vehicle was damaged when a “security gate with faulty sensor” closed on the car, causing thousands of dollars in damage. Despite the incident being recorded on video, the company has not resolved the issue with the customer:

I was told a check will be cut two Fridays ago still nothing I cant get manager or regional manager on the phone They agreed to pay the estimated damages but do not follow thru

Mold and Mildew

Another issue with storage units is temperature. Many of them are not controlled in terms of this indicator. Nor do they have insulation, which allows the facility to change temperatures and humidity levels dramatically. Add in rain or the occasional leak, and moisture can destroy items through mold and mildew.

One customer in Georgia discovered items in their self-storage unit were starting to mold after smelling evidence of drug use in the facility. The customer informed the district management about the issue. However, the official representative 

…has refused to adequately address and put a stop…Given the fact they have cameras this could have and should have been prevented.

Storage Unit issues with Pest Infestations

Pest Infestations

Storage units can become home to rats, mice, and other animals or insects who enjoy burrowing in items left undisturbed for long periods of time. One of Life Storage's customer described their experience in review #5672600, stating that rats had eaten their belongings in a unit:

 I paid my storage and found 3 dead rats…I had rats that have eaten all my things in storage…

While humans hate warm, humid conditions, some creatures love them. Storage units may be infested with roaches, as noted in one of the Public Storage reviews. The user shared their consumer insights on management problems when they tried to pay and “waited almost an hour for someone to come in.” While waiting they found unexpected guests which they videoed:

While I waited at 1:30 est I observed two roaches crawling on the walls. 

Growing rate issues

One of the common storage unit issues frequently discussed in online reviews is the pricing. Even if everything else goes well, some facilities continue to raise their rates once customers move items in, creating a price crunch. A customer of Extra Space Storage moved items and

After 4 months of service, my monthly rate went from $70 to $145 without warning and the reason given was "changing market conditions.” No other information on rate increases was provided to me.

The frustrated consumer found such a situation “not just bad business practices but deceptive advertising.” 

Tips to Rent a Storage Unit Without Headaches

To rent a storage unit without worrying about risks, consider the following best practices listed below.

Check for security features

You want a self-storage unit that is well lit, has cameras, offers very limited access, and has multiple secure entry points. It might also have twenty-four-hour security on site.

Choose interior climate control units

An interior unit with climate control will help reduce risks associated with moisture and vermin.

Check online reviews

See what others have said about the storage space. Opt for options with fewer reported problems to minimize the risk of encountering issues in the future. 

Act wisely

When renting a storage unit, don’t tell others what you’re storing (unless you’re legally required to.) Bring your own, high-security lock. Choose a facility with unique gate codes. Only store what insurance will cover, never irreplaceable items, and be sure to take photographs should something happen. 

Making the Most of a Storage Unit

Storage units serve an important purpose for many families. When you pay a company to safely store items, you want to be sure that your money is being well spent. Research options well and be aware of risks before you sign a contract and move items in to protect yourself from potential storage unit issues. Check reviews to be sure you’re making the best choice in your area.

If you've encountered challenges or had a positive experience, why not leave a review and help fellow customers? Your feedback or comments can guide others in making informed decisions.

Legal disclaimers:

  1. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide any legal, medical, accounting, investment or any other professional advice as individual cases may vary and should be discussed with a corresponding expert and/or an attorney.
  2. All or some image copyright belongs to the original owner(s). No copyright infringement intended.

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