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Does the storage company have any liability if my items are damaged?

A woman locks her storage unit.
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Whose fault is it if your stored domestic goods are stolen or broken?

When you pay for storage, it is reasonable to expect that your storage company will keep your goods safe from harm. But of course natural disasters happen, and accidents and thefts, too.

Goods are stored at owner’s risk

Your contract will probably say something like ‘Goods are stored at owner’s risk.’ This means that unless the storage company is negligent, it is not liable for damage to your stored goods.

How might a storage company be negligent?

A storage company has agreed to keep your goods safe. So it should provide a good, secure environment by keeping its buildings in good repair and ensuring they are well lit and protected.

If a storage company fails to look after its facilities – for example by not making prompt repairs to a leaking roof – it may be liable if the goods it is storing get damaged.

But even if your storage company does turn out to be liable for damage to your goods, that’s little comfort if you lose items with sentimental value.

How do I avoid storing my domestic goods with a negligent company?

It’s worth taking a close look at your storage company’s site before you commit to storing your goods. Are the fences in good repair? Do the gates work properly? Are the staff confident and helpful? If you see storm and water damage; or rats and other vermin, try somewhere else.

Follow the self-storage rules

As a client of a self-storage company, you’ve got some responsibilities. These will be outlined in your contract or rental agreement. If you fail to meet these responsibilities then the storage company will not be liable for loss or damage.

You should check your contract with the storage company for details about your specific responsibilities. They might include the type of lock you can use on your unit. You may have to follow certain procedures when entering and exiting the storage facility. And you may have let the storage company know if you lose the key to your unit.

There will be certain items that you cannot store, like live plants and animals or toxic or flammable substances. The storage company staff will look at your inventory but they will not usually inspect your goods before you put them in your unit. But you can ask for advice about specific items if you are unsure. This post will give you an idea of some categories of domestic goods that won’t be welcome in a storage unit.

How can I protect my stored goods?

Inspecting your stored goods from time to time is the number one thing you can do to protect them. Also, pack your unit carefully, paying particular attention to fragile goods. Consider a facility with climate-controlled storage if you have vulnerable items like antiques, musical instruments or rare books.

How can I protect myself from loss in the event my stored unit is broken into?

Your rental agreement with the self-storage company will usually require you to have insurance for your stored goods. This is to protect you from loss if your goods are damaged or stolen while in store. Self-storage insurance should not be particularly pricy – but it does vary considerably and it’s advantageous to shop around. In particular watch out for storage companies that want you to use a particular insurer. You are not obliged to go with the insurer they recommend. Get a quick quote from us to start you off.

It is unlikely that your storage company will easily admit liability in the event of damage to your stored goods. You can reduce the impact of such an event by getting self-storage insurance.