When you start shopping around for a storage space, it can be easy to think about unit size and price, and to forget about other important facility details. However, some storage businesses are managed better than others, which might make a difference to you later. Here are two things to ask before you rent a storage unit, so that you can store successfully for as long as you need to.

1: "How do you keep the facility secure?"

Security is one of the most important topics that you should cover with storage managers. Although it might not seem like a serious threat, 8.9% of storage facilities reported some form of theft in 2012. Fortunately, some storage businesses take theft seriously, and implement facility security in these ways:

  • On-Site Managers: To keep a watchful eye on the premises, many storage facilities hire employees to live on-site in free or reduced-rate apartments. These managers usually take care of the normal office paperwork, check units daily, and investigate strange issues. 
  • Tenant Screening: In order to keep the wrong people out of the facility, some storage businesses choose to screen customers before allowing them to rent units. This extra step might mean that you won't have to share storage walls with a convicted felon, or someone who could jeopardize your personal safety while you rearrange the things in your unit.
  • After Hours Checks: Burglars love the cover that nightfall offers, which is why many storage facilities implement after-hours checks of all of the units. Managers will ask people who are loitering to leave, look for missing locks, and secure the gate before heading home.

As you discuss security with storage representatives, try to get a feel for the businesses attitude about security. If you can tell that they care about their customers and take the right precautions, you might be able to sleep a little easier at night while your things are in storage. 

2: "Are there any other fees?"

Although you might be familiar with your monthly storage unit rate, it can be easy to overlook other fees. However, many storage facilities charge supplementary fees to offset operational costs. Here are a few other fees that you should ask about: 

  • Cleaning Deposit: When tenants leave behind old furniture and forget about sweeping out their unit, storage managers have to take care of the job. Unfortunately, cleaning up that mess can get expensive for storage facilities. To encourage you to clean out your unit, some facilities charge a cleaning deposit. This total will be returned to you after your unit is found clean and empty when you move out.
  • Late Fees: Because collecting monthly rent can get expensive, many facilities charge late fees for past-due rent. When you sign up for a storage unit, ask if there is a payment grace period, so that you can pay your rent on time.
  • Invoicing Fees: Do you like to have a monthly account statement mailed to you? Before you check the box for a paper invoice, ask if there is a charge for the service. 
  • Auction Charges: If you fall on hard times, your account might be subject to auction fees. In addition to your normal monthly rent and late fees, you might also have to foot the bill for newspaper advertisements, certified letters, and a lock cutting service, if your unit is in danger of being sold at auction.

Your storage unit contract should contain a list of all of the fees that could be associated with your account. Make sure that you understand when your rent comes due, how often fees are assessed and waived, and how you can stay in good standing with the facility.

Asking the right questions before you choose between storage facilities might help you to avoid surprise expenses and hassles along the way.