The role of a self-storage operator as a “landlord” is often more complicated than it needs to be, but especially when issues arise concerning the poor conduct of a tenant. Since self-storage is primarily focused on the storage of property, whether that be personal property or business property, one would think that conduct issues would be less frequent compared to the leasing of residential property. But unfortunately, the issue of poor tenant conduct seems to be escalating in the self-storage industry.
More and more, self-storage operators are reporting violations of the use provision of their self-storage rental agreements, where tenants are storing property that may be hazardous or flammable and then refusing to remove the dangerous materials upon request. And, sadly, more and more properties have observed the illegal use of a storage unit for habitation or extended loitering in the absence of available residential housing or shelter. Although adding provisions to your rental agreement may not prevent the occurrence of these use violations, a good rental agreement can help an operator address its rights of lease termination and tenant removal if these situations arise. The following are some “best practices” language that may need to be added to your self-storage rental agreement to manage the growing challenges of poor tenant conduct.
Conduct: Occupant and Occupant’s guests and invitees shall behave, conduct themselves, and communicate with Owner, Owner’s employees and agents, and other occupants in a professional, businesslike manner while at the Facility. Abusive or harassing language or conduct by Occupant or Occupant’s guests or invitees is a breach of this Agreement. If any provision of this paragraph is violated, Owner shall have the right to immediately terminate this Agreement (including denial of vehicle gate access to the Facility and denial of access to the Space) and to exercise any other remedies provided at law or in equity, including immediate removal of Occupant’s property from the Space and the Facility. If Occupant or Occupant’s guests or invitees are in violation of this paragraph, Owner has the right to control Occupant’s access on the Facility, including, but not limited to, requiring Occupant to be escorted by Owner’s agents or employees while at the Facility.
Termination: This Agreement shall continue from month to month, automatically renewing at the end of each monthly term, unless the Occupant or Owner delivers to the other party a written notice of its intention to terminate the Agreement at least five (5) days prior to the end of the then current rental period. Owner may also exercise immediate termination rights (including denial of vehicle gate access to the Facility and denial of access to the Space) in the event that Occupant utilizes the Space for an unlawful or criminal purpose or is found to be engaged in illegal or criminal activity at the Facility. If Owner terminates this Agreement as provided for herein, Owner has the right to deny vehicle access entry to the Facility during the termination period and control Occupant’s access on the Facility, including, but not limited to, requiring Occupant to be escorted by Owner’s agents or employees while at the Facility.
Again, these provisions won’t necessarily stop these problems from happening, like solutions that are focused on maintaining sufficient security oversight and regular facility site inspections. But these provisions will go a long way toward identifying manageable solutions when such a problem occurs.
This article was originally published in Self Storage Legal Monthly Minute by Scott Zucker, August 2022