Storage Wars made storage units into fair game. At least, as fair as possible with a script, casted characters, and planted finds. Still, it raised a good question: If my stuff is in storage and I don’t pay, can they auction off my private possessions on live TV?
Yes and no.
In California, it is legal for a storage facility to put a lien on your property when you haven’t paid rent. The facility has to follow strict rules—its own rules in the contract you signed, and the rules of the California Self-Service Storage Facility Act—and auctions are somewhat rare. But if a storage unit is legally abandoned, it may indeed be auctioned off.
Probably not on live TV.
But here’s how it happens:
- Rent payment is more than 14 days late.
- Facility sends a Preliminary Lien Notice to the renter’s last known address. This informs renter that a “termination date” has been set, and that he or she cannot enter and use the facility after that. The termination date can’t be sooner than 14 days from the time the Preliminary Lien Notice was sent.
- After the termination date, facility sends a Notice of Lien Sale, which tells the renter when the contents of the storage unit will be put up for auction. Again, the date can’t be sooner than 14 days after the Notice was mailed.
- Facility must place an advertisement in a publication for two consecutive weeks notifying the general public of the lien sale.
- Lien sale. Facility is only allowed to recoup the amount owed. Any additional profit must be held for the renter for one year. After that, the additional profit is given to the county.
At any time during these proceedings, you-the-renter are free to jump in and yell “Stop!” legally. Paying the outstanding fees will usually stop the process. After a certain point—the Notice of Lien Sale—your response may require paperwork to be filed with the court. You might also have to pay late fees to the facility to redeem your property.
In most cases, a facility just wants the owed money—not a legal hassle. Pay them, notify them, work with them, and you have very little chance of being auctioned off. Your storage unit, that is.
We recommend simply being aware and keeping your storage facility in the loop. If times are tough, speak to a storage counselor to see if they can help you. The friendly professionals at STORBOX can answer any questions or concerns you may have. Call (626) 407-3439 to learn more about self-storage today.