Keys to Choosing a Secure Self-Storage Facility

By: Larry Bender


One often overlooked aspect of personal financial planning is security. Think of it this way: Working to build up more assets will be wasted effort if you can’t hold on to what you already have. This means that people need to protect their homes, their businesses, their credit cards and identities – everything they value. For people who rent self-storage facilities, this means making sure their storage locker is secure, as well. Here are some keys to choosing a secure self-storage facility.

One of the tried and true rules for buying real estate applies to selecting a secure facility, although it is not the primary criterion. “Location, location, location” is the mantra for homebuyers, and it does make sense, assuming all other key criteria are also good, to have a facility close at hand. This makes it easier to access, of course, as well as easier to keep tabs on.

Geography and size

It also makes sense to avoid storage facilities that are close to freeway onramps, since thieves scout locations with that characteristic in mind. A facility in a downtown area, on a cul-de-sac or in an industrial park with few entrances would be a wiser choice, if possible.

The size of the facility may have an impact on the security provided. A sprawling compound with a dozen buildings that is managed by just a few employees is not going to be the most secure. Consider the ratio of employees to acreage. You should also find out how the security is managed, and a combination of foot patrols, video surveillance, access control and well-lit aisles is a good balance.

Secure by design

The most important considerations have to do with the facility itself, and the individual storage area you rent there. Never rent a space at a facility that does not control – and, better yet, record – the cars and the people entering the property. Storage facilities that have modern, secure entrances with video surveillance are your best bet. An added benefit is having the office and the onsite manager’s living quarters adjacent to the entrance, for additional “real time” views of the people entering and exiting the facility.

Another design element of a good, secure facility is the placement of video cameras on each aisle of units. The more surveillance there is, the better for you. You should also determine how long the tapes (they are taping, right?) go back, as sometimes months can go by between storage locker visits. The entry/exit records generated by the entrance’s PIN-pad or card-activated terminal should also be saved for a reasonable amount of time.

Your contribution

You can also improve your storage locker’s security by getting the best, hardened steel lock you can afford. These are not the kind of locks you will find at the drugstore, either. Go to a locksmith and ask for a lock with a round key (harder to pick) with a round or rounded body (harder to leverage) and thick, hardened steel loop (harder to cut). Do not skimp on the lock, as it is your final line of defense if thieves get that far. And remember this: Many storage facility rip-offs are “inside jobs,” perpetrated by other renters, or by thieves who rent a storage locker to gain access to a facility.

You also need to cover all your bases insurance-wise. Add the storage locker to your homeowner or renter policy, and always keep an accurate, updated inventory of your stored belongings. Anyone with access to your locker, from family to employees, should be listed on the access form kept by the facility, and ID should always be required of first-time visitors. Check on this, and other procedures, with the storage facility managers. Get to know the facility personnel, and make sure all persons to whom you give access do the same thing.

Bottom line? Use your head, consider all the elements, visit the facilities you are considering and compare them one against the other. The right combination of features may make several of them good candidates, so be sure to assign a “weighted importance” to the security considerations most important to you. As a final check, investigate any complaints against the facilities you are considering. You can do this easily on the Internet (Better Business Bureau, Complaints.com, etc.). With just a little homework, and another bit of footwork, you should be able to locate a facility that gives you, personally, a solid sense of security!

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In business since 1978, Williams & McDaniel now owns and manages 25 residential buildings in central and south-western Ontario. Our sizeable commercial portfolio includes kitchener apartments, guelph storage and a wide range of properties in the surrounding areas.

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