While getting into the portable storage business makes good sense – especially for self-storage facility managers that are looking to expand their business by providing more flexible options for a wider customer base – there are a number of legalities that need to be considered and taken care of before doing so. In fact, we highly recommend speaking to an attorney who is knowledgeable about matters of liability – odds are if you run a self-storage facility you already have one. Make certain that they have experience in matters of transportation law as well. The following are some of the legalities of the portable storage business that you should go over with your attorney:
Now that you need trucks in order to deliver, pick up, and transport portable storage units, you’re probably assuming that you will have to worry about transportation regulations. Every state has different laws, but typically a truck that has a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of over 26,000 pounds can only be operated by drivers with a commercial driver’s license. Not to mention that if you are transporting portable units over state lines, federal transportation regulations will apply. However, portable storage unit trucks are actually under the weight requirement for having a commercial driver’s license, which means that smaller storage businesses don’t have to worry about being restricted by transportation regulations.
Insurance and Liability Issues
You should speak to your insurance agent about the liability issues regarding portable storage units. You’ll want to do everything that you can to limit your liability. Liability may restrict where you can store the portable storage units. For example, if you leave the unit in a parking space outside of an apartment, you may be held liable if a neighbor hits the unit with their car. You’ll also need to go over the insurance requirements for the transportation aspect of your business. You’ll want your trucks to be fully insured in the event that they are in an accident on route and the portable storage unit is damaged – and the items within the unit are damaged as a result. Last but not least, you need to be aware of local restrictions and zoning restrictions. Depending on where you are placing the unit and for how long, you may need a permit.
Keeping these regulations and liability issues in mind, you’ll want to draft a new rental agreement with your attorney that limits your liabilities and clearly details the renter’s responsibilities. The following are a few things that need to make it into your rental agreement:
- Payment delinquency: State laws typically provide a statute of requirements regarding foreclosures. You’ll need to provide a written notice to the renter and to any other parties with a vested interest in the property being stored. The renter needs to have an acceptable amount of time to pay the balance owed. That amount of time needs to be clearly stated in the agreement, as should the fact that you have the legal right to sell the property stored within the unit if the balance is not paid.
- Packing responsibilities: The agreement should also include that the renter is responsible for safely and securely packing their portable storage unit. This means that if anything is damaged within the unit during transportation, you are not held liable for those damages.
As you can see, there are a lot of legalities involved with the portable storage business. Speak with your insurance agent and your lawyer before drafting rental agreements, and consider joining the NPSA – they often provide helpful legal information in their newsletters.