Inside Self-Storage

FEB 2019

Inside Self-Storage (ISS) is an information source for industry owners, managers, developers and investors covering news, trends, facility operation, finance, real estate, construction, development, marketing, technology, insurance and legality.

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Tenant Disappearance Disappearance occurs when a tenant who has been present, communicating and paying the rent suddenly stops and is no longer heard or seen. You may never know the reason why. It could be due to death, incarceration, incapacitation or a conscious decision to forego the stored goods, perhaps due to an inability to pay rent. Typically, when a disappearance occurs, the unit will go into lien status and eventually sold. However, in some circumstances, the tenant will remove some unit contents and leave the rest in the space with no lock. If this happens, the goods may be considered abandoned. An example of a lease abandonment provision is as follows: Abandonment: this Agreement shall automatically terminate if the Occupant abandons the Space. The Occupant shall be deemed to have abandoned the Space if the Occupant has removed the contents of the Space and/or has removed the locking device from the Space. Rent prepaid for any period in which the Occupant moves out early shall not be refunded. Abandonment shall allow the Owner to remove all contents of the Space for disposal. Occupant hereby waives and releases any claims or actions against Owner for disposal of personal property resulting from Occupant's abandonment. Occupant shall be responsible for paying all costs incurred by Owner in disposing of such property. Determining if a unit has been abandoned can be a guessing game. Sometimes it's better to rely on the lien. Depending on your state statute, try to contact the tenant before proceeding with a sale. Perhaps you'll discover the reason for his disappearance. It's always up to the facility operator, based on the facts presented, whether it's prudent to proceed with the lien. Whether death, divorce or disappearance has occurred, each presents challenges and obligations. Understanding how to handle each properly, in accordance with your state law, will mitigate risk to the business and keep the tenant plot lines at your facility predictable, instead of manifesting into a soap opera. Scott Zucker is a partner in the law firm Weissmann Zucker Euster Morochnik & Garber P.C. in Atlanta, which specializes in business litigation with an emphasis on real estate, landlord-tenant and construction law. He's a frequent speaker at self-storage industry events, author of "Legal Topics in Self Storage: A Sourcebook for Owners and Managers," first and second editions, and a partner in the Self Storage Legal Network, a subscription-based legal service for storage owners and managers. He's also the deputy general counsel for the Self Storage Association. For more information, e-mail scott@wzlegal.com; visit www.wzlegal.com. LEARN MORE Learn more from author Scott Zucker at the upcoming ISS World Expo, where he'll teach a four-hour Advanced Legal Workshop on April 4. Get details and register at www.issworldexpo.com. 40 ISS I February 2019 www.insideselfstorage.com

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