Self-storage is a shorthand for self-service storage, also known as “mini storage”. It is an industry in which storage units are rented to tenants usually on a short-term basis, often month-to-month. Tenants of self-storage include businesses and individuals.
Individuals usually use self-storage for storing household goods because jurisdictions prohibit the space from being used as a residence. However, some self-storage can be used as an office space.
Facilities often offer boxes, locks, packaging supplies for sale, while some even provide truck rentals to assist in packing, safekeeping and transportation of their goods.
Insurance is offered by most storage facilities. The user of self-storage may be covered by his/her insurance policy or may purchase insurance to cover the items. The facility may offer service through a third-party carrier or may require the lessor to purchase insurance as a condition of rental.
Self-storage facility employees don’t have access to the contents of the space, which distinguishes facilities from a warehouse. The lessor’s lock and key secure the space.
A self-storage owners/employees don’t take possession or control of the contents of the space unless rent is not paid on a regular basis, or if the unit is not locked the facility may secure the unit until the user provides his/her lock.
There are over 250 self-storage facilities in the United Kingdom, placed on industrial and commercial land parcels. More recently, in many metropolitan cities where competition among storage companies is intense, plots of land near residential and commercial areas are being converted into self-storage.
A variety of unit sizes is leased to customers. Popular unit sizes (expressed in feet) include:
- 5×10, about the size of a large walk-in closet, appropriate for storing all the contents of a studio apartment comfortably
- 10×10, about the size of a children’s bedroom, this space is voluminous enough for storing items from your office or two bedroom home.
- 10×20, about the size of a one-car garage, appropriate for warehousing of vehicles, including boats and cars and you’ll still have enough space left over to store smaller items such as outdoor equipment, boxes, small personal items and books.
- 15×20, about the size of a large master bedroom, good choice for customers that are moving house from a larger property to another.
- 20×20, about the size of a two-car garage, gives you a possibility of storage of the vehicle, furniture, large enough to let you plan warehousing items with almost no size restriction.
The storage units are window-less, lockable by the renter and walled with corrugated metal. Access is usually by opening a roll-up metal door, about the same size as a one-car garage door. A hinged metal door may access smaller units. Typically, facilities provide security, either by security cameras and alarms or by employing security guards. Many of self-storage facilities offer climate controlled storage, 24-hour access, outdoor storage for RVs and boats, and lights or power outlets inside the storage unit.
The most common way of charging is a monthly fee. The amount is based on many variables, like the size of the unit, its location, the level of quality and service offered, as well as other conveniences.
There are facilities with outdoor access, which allow you to drive-up and access your storage units from the outside. Another type is indoor storage that can only be accessed from the inside of the premises.
Outdoor access units are a convenient option because you’re able to access them from the outside and they’re more affordable when compared to indoor storages. However, this option doesn’t offer extras like climate control. Indoor storage units are a more secure option and provide an added benefit of climate control and other perks. But, they’re accessible from the inside only, and your unit may even be located in a distant area of the warehouse that requires elevator access, making it challenging to move your stuff in and out of the unit.
Keeping items in self-storage has some restrictions which are made for safety purposes. It is not allowed to keep drugs or stolen goods, guns, garbage, flammable, hazardous or explosives materials, plants or pets in units. But there is still a broad spectrum of items you can safely store in a self-storage unit, and you can use one for different purposes such as decluttering, storing items and furniture when moving to smaller living space, remodelling your home or use it for business purposes.