Self storage (a shorthand for “self-service storage”), also known as (mini storage), is an industry in which storage space (such as shipping containers, lockers, rooms, and outdoor areas), also known as storage units is rented to tenants, usually on a short-term basis (often month-to-month). Self storage tenants include businesses such as shops, factories and offices as well as normal home owners and individuals.
Self storage facilities offer space for rent on a short-term basis (often paid monthly, though options for longer term leases are available) to individuals (usually storing household goods). Some facilities offer removal cartons or boxes, locks and packaging supplies for sale to help tenants in the packing of their belongings, and may also offer a vehicle or truck to rent. Items are generally not covered by the facility’s insurance but customers may have an option to purchase some form of cover through a third party. The rented units, containers or spaces have locks and keys held by the tenant. Unlike in a warehouse, self-storage facility employees do not have casual access to any of these spaces.
A self-storage facility does not and will not take possession or control any of the spaces or contents of the space unless there is an issue of non-payment of fees or rent. If the unit or space is not locked by the tenant the facility may lock the unit until the tenant provides his/her own locking device.
History of Storage
There does not seem to be any historical evidence of publicly available storage in ancient times. Modern self-storage facilities and did not begin to appear till after 1959, when Lauderdale Storage in Florida opened its doors. Toward the late 1960s, the first self-storage facility, like the big ones in the USA, started in Australia. Modern storage facilities boomed around the world making it a multi-billion dollar business. They grew slowly through 1990 to 1995, at which time demand was very high and outweighed demand. This caused a big rush of new storage developments worldwide. From 2000 to 2009, nearly over 3,400 new storage facilities were built every year in the USA.
Self Storage Today
At the end of 2010, a total of some 68,000 self-storage businesses, owned by 30,285 businesses and companies, were developed in the USA on industrial and commercial land and on 4b sites in Australia. The five large publicly traded storage operators in Australia have a hold on the market but smaller operators are getting a slice of the market by giving personalised service. More recently, in many metropolitan areas where competition between storage companies is strong, big lots of land are been developed for storage near residential and commercial areas which are much more convenient to the consumer. Large development areas are being converted into self store and container sites once approved by local council and DA appropriation with zoning.
Self storage & container storage businesses lease a number of different sized units to residential and business customers alone. Popular unit sizes include 10’x 5’ x 4 ½’ (10 feet wide by 5 feet by 4 ½’ deep) which is about the size of a large walk-in pantry, 10’X10’, the size of a small bedroom 10’ x 20’ , the size of a one-car garage, and 15’ x 20’ and 20’ x 20’, the size of a two car garage. These storage units are typically windowless, and walled with metal usually corrugated and lockable with a padlock or similar. Each of these units are usually accessed by opening a roller door, which is usually about the size of a one car roller door (some smaller units can be accessed by a hinged or sliding metal door).
Some storage facilities may employ security, have security cameras and may have unit door alarms. Some have an electronic gate access such as a keypad or swipe-card. Self storage operators usually provide 24 hour access, outdoor storage for vehicles and boats, and lights and 240v power inside the unit. In suburban areas, a lot of facilities contain multiple single story buildings with mostly drive up units which have natural ventilation, such as whirly birds, installed but are not climate controlled. These buildings are referred to as traditional storage units. Climate controlled interior units are becoming more popular in the city but have not gained popularity in Australia yet.
In urban areas many facilities have multi story buildings using elevators, freight lifts etc to move the goods to the upper floors. These facilities often have climate control since they are comprised mostly, if not totally, of interior units.
Warehouses, old wool sheds and old grocery stores are sometimes converted into storage areas.
Loading docks are sometimes provided on the ground floor where old supermarkets have once been and are very handy when setting up. Rolling trolleys or moving dollies are sometimes provided, helping customers to carry belongings to their storage unit. Self storage places might also contain a few floors in a much larger building.
One in ten Australian households rent a self-storage unit. The growing demand for storage in the Australia is created by people moving (some 1 million people move each year as an educated guess) and by various lifestyle changes, such as marriage, divorce, a death, a retirement etc. Over 1,200 self storage facilities currently exist in Australia ranging from small independents to larger companies with a nationwide presence and branding.
Self Storage on the Climb Worldwide
Self storage or variations like container storage which is now all the rage in Australia, is now found in many parts of the world. In 2014, FEDESSA, the “Federation of European Self Storage Associations”, submitted a report about the state of the self-storage industry in Europe. In the report, it was claimed that 975 facilities exist in United Kingdom, 340 in France, 264 in The Netherlands 200 in Spain, 130 in Germany, and 110 in Sweden. No one other country in Europe had more than 100 facilities. In general, the initial report estimates also that 2,390 total facilities in Europe, or about 76 million square feet of rentable storage space. This compares with over 50,000 facilities in the United States totalling 236 million square feet and 1,400 facilities in Australia totalling 41 million square feet.
In Australia, self storage companies may hold storage auctions to vacate non-paying customers according to the laws in each state. Storage owners are required to give public notice of the sale or auction by way of a notice in a newspaper, while in other parts of the world they allow public notice of sales to be done via the internet. However, a tenant has the right to pay all of their outstanding bill until the moment the auction begins and thus reclaim their items, those units would then be removed from the auction. These auctions are open always to the general public, with bidders buying to resell the goods for gain or profit. The terms of sales are cash only. Once the auction commences for a unit, the door to the unit is opened and potential bidders are allowed to view the contents by looking in from the doorway only. They may not step anywhere inside the unit or container, touch, or move anything prior to the auction.
The units or containers are usually sold on the day “as is”. The purchaser of a unit receives the lot (treasure and trash) and is also responsible for the removal of the contents within a given time usually 1 to 3 days. Sometimes a facility may allow the purchaser to rent the container or unit.
Self Storage Associations around Australia
Self Storage Associations have been created around the world in support of the growth of this industry.
These associations sometimes provide support in the way of information, education, networking, events, standardized agreements, marketing, data collection advocacy, and publications for current and potential storage facility owners and operators, managers, investors and suppliers.