Are you thinking about renting a storage unit for the first time? After you finally track down the perfect self storage facility and find a unit large enough for your stuff, you might be ready to head into the front office and take care of the paperwork. Although it might be tempting to skip through the information and move your stuff in as soon as possible, passing over the details could cause problems later. Here are two questions you should ask your storage facility clerk so that you can have a great storage experience:

1: "What are the gate hours?"

If you are like most new storage unit renters, you probably assume that you can access your stuff whenever you need to. However, most storage facilities regulate unit access hours in order to keep the facility secure. To control access, some facilities have electronic front gates that lock down overnight and unit doors that can't be opened past a certain time.

Although these measures help to keep the wrong people out of the facility over night, misunderstanding the facility hours can put you in a bind. What will happen if you gather a group of movers together, only to discover that you are locked out of your unit? To avoid these types of situations, make sure that you understand the general gate hours. Also, make sure to ask about these special situations:

  • Holidays: Since older facilities might contain large manual gates that on-site managers secure and unlock, you should ask about holiday gate hours. If managers won't be at work to open and close that gate, you might have to leave your Christmas presents in the unit until the new year.
  • Moving In: Ask your facility manager if they offer extended gate hours for people who are moving in. Some electronic gate systems allow managers to grant certain tenants extra access so you can get the job done in one day.
  • Business Purposes: Are you planning on storing business inventory in your unit? If so, you might need to access your unit early in the morning before your store opens. Ask managers if you can have special permission to get through the gate before the facility opens. 

As you discuss gate hours with your facility manager, try to keep in mind that rules are in place to keep your things safe and secure. Most facilities will try to accommodate your needs so you can store how and when you wish.

2: "How many break-ins have you had this year?"

After chatting politely with your facility manager during the move-in process, you might feel comfortable enough to ask bolder questions. If you have the chance, ask how many times the facility has had to deal with burglaries during the calendar year. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you listen to your storage manager answer your question:

  • Manager Attitude: Pay attention to the way the manager acts when you ask about security. If they try to undermine the question or scoff at the mere mention of theft, they might be trying to cover up a serious problem. On the other hand, if the storage manager takes the question in stride and gives you the facts, it could show you that they really care about security. 
  • National Average: Only about 8.9% of storage facilities reported theft in 2012. With less than one in ten storage facilities having a significant problem with burglary, the mere mention of recent robberies should send you running for the hills. If the facility manager talks about frequent break-ins like they aren't a big deal, it could be a sign of an even deeper issue.

You might feel silly asking such a pointed question, but the information that you receive might help you to keep your things more secure. 

Taking the time to really talk with storage managers to understand the rules might help you to avoid problems and free up your moving schedule.