By Martha Smith, Certified Self Storage Manager
That’s right, you cannot live in your storage unit. Temptation rules when you get down on your luck and have no place to go. You may think, “I can make my storage unit my temporary home. It’s cheaper than an apartment or hotel room, right?” Well as tempting as that can be, it is against our regulations. You are not permitted to live or work out of a storage unit at any time.
Even though it is against our regulations (and every other storage facility’s as well), some people do try to get away with it. This poor choice of a living arrangement more often than not usually results in more trouble than it is worth. And, it can be downright dangerous!
Self storage facilities are not built to the same living standards as home dwellings. They lack ventilation, heating, air conditioning, plumbing and electricity in most cases. They are also not equipped with life safety features like fire sprinklers and smoke detectors. They are basically a metal box, a place meant only for objects to be kept. Think about the middle of the hot summer when temps rise above 90 degrees outside…how hot do you think it gets inside that storage unit? Or the dead of winter when we see temps barely getting out of the twenties…do you really think the metal enclosure of a storage unit is going to be much warmer? The simple answer is no.
For example, a woman in Seattle started living in a storage unit after she was evicted from her home. She eventually got trapped in the unit when she was unable to unlock the door and was ultimately treated for hypothermia. Not smart, and not safe! She could have been killed for her poor choice, but luckily she wasn’t.
If a property manager catches you living in a storage unit, you could be given a verbal warning, kicked out on the spot or even arrested and prosecuted, with fines to follow. If times are already tough enough that you don’t have a permanent home, the last thing you need is to be arrested and fighting charges in court.
If you literally have nowhere to go, we suggest contacting your local shelter or mission. They open their doors to anyone down on their luck and give them a place to sleep and food to eat. And, they are designed to be transitional with programs to get you back on your feet, secure a job and find a place to live. They understand your situation and know how to help, and they are safe.
At Moove In Self Storage, we partner with some local missions that may be able to help you or at least give you some options to keep you safe: York Rescue Mission in York, PA and Water Street Mission in Lancaster, PA; as well as the Maryland Food Bank in Baltimore, MD and the SEC Food Pantry in Sussex County, NJ who both can direct you to a local mission for shelter. You can also check with your local police department or community churches in the area, as they are both good resources in tough times.
Even though people may be desperate to put a roof over their heads, camping out in a storage unit just isn’t the way to go. Not only do state laws prohibit using a storage unit as a place of residence; but so does the rental agreement that you signed when securing your storage unit. Beyond being illegal and an insurance risk that a storage operator won’t take; it just isn’t safe for any amount of time, no matter how brief.