Manager's Corner

  • 1.  Vacant Unit Still Occupied

    Posted 03-15-2022 10:06 AM
    I have a tenant who rented a unit, but transferred to a larger unit because they needed more space. However, they just moved the rest of their items into the larger unit leaving everything else in the smaller unit. They needed to come back another day to finish moving everything over, but they kept giving excuses about why they couldn't get here to do it. They are costing us money by leaving their items in the unit. I could have sold the unit 5x already, but couldn't because their items are in there. I've overlocked the unit, but haven't really been able to find anything about what my legal obligations or options are in this situation. I have her signed lease for the smaller unit before she transferred to the larger one, but wouldn't it be void since she technically vacated the unit? Do I still follow the normal auction process or can I speed up the timeline? I'm at a loss of what to do and would greatly appreciate some guidance. Thanks!

    Rebekah Oglesby
    Seguin Storage
    Seguin TX
    (830) 800-8006

  • 2.  RE: Vacant Unit Still Occupied

    Posted 03-15-2022 11:09 AM
    Easy! You now own it. Take a photo, lock it up, sell. Send a thank you to the tenant who abandoned the unit. Then terminate his lease.

    Bob Vamvas
    RAS Investments, LLC
    Harker Heights TX

  • 3.  RE: Vacant Unit Still Occupied

    Posted 03-15-2022 02:26 PM

    My response is a little different from Bob's, but essentially he is right. We like to wait till other members respond since they often have the practical answers about how they handle things, while TSSA staff has to give you the conservative, legally correct answer to be on the safe side legally.

    If you are using the TSSA lease, a tenant isn't technically moved out until the unit contents have been removed and the unit left "broom clean" (see Paragraph 10--"Move Out Duties"). So, you could close and lock the unit and continue to charge the tenant rent for the unit if you really want to get their atttention. But we all know that sometimes tenants leave behind junk or other things they no longer want.

    Or, as Bob said, send a notice of abandonment and put a lock on the unit. You can use TSSA Form MISC-3, Notic of Abandonment, for this. You can wait an appropriate amount of time to see if they respond and then dispose of or sell the contents. The question becomes--how long do you want to wait? Usually you'd be sending a notice of abandonment to someone who is no longer a tenant. Abandonment is defined in Pargraph 26 and this does meet that test since they gave move-out notice, removed the lock and left behind the things they didn't want.

    Did you have the tenant sign a new contract for the other unit or amend the existing contract with the new unit number and higher rent amount? 

    The tenant is technically in breach of the contract and, as you said, tying up the unit that you could have rented to someone else. Charging them rent for the smaller unit in addition to the larger one may get their attention but you might end up having to refund some rent so it may not be worth the hassle.

    If you have plenty of demand, you should probably terminate the contract for this tenant and get someone in who won't be so careless in leaving behind a mess for you to clean up. They probably thought this was an easy way to get rid of the stuff they didn't want.

    Obviously one of the questions I would ask is, "What did the tenant say when you called?" If the tenant understands that they can't just leave behind what they don't want without consequence they may decide to hustle out to move the contents into the larger unit.

    If you have another unit where you keep abandoned and donated contents or other things you plan to sell at a later date, you can also move these things into that unit. Just keep track of what came from this unit. If it were me, I'd call the tenant, give them a very short period to come get the other things and then remove them to free up the unit if they don't, and charge the tenant a cleaning fee. Once that is taken care of, I'd terminate their contract on the larger unit since you don't necessarily want that type of tenant renting anyway.

    Eager to hear if others have suggestions.

    Ginny Sutton
    Executive Director
    Texas Self Storage Association, Inc.
    Round Rock TX
    (512) 374-9089

  • 4.  RE: Vacant Unit Still Occupied

    Posted 03-16-2022 10:14 AM
    We have had this issue before and we told the tenant that she had until Monday of the next week to remove the items or we would have to charge her for the unit she was still occupying. That conversation was enough for her to come and get out before she was paying rent on both units. I didn't even think about the going through the auction process or considering it an abandoned unit. Thanks for the question so we have other options next time (which hopefully there will never be a next time, but...............)

    Terri Wood
    District Manager
    Ideal Self Storage
    Waco TX
    (254) 301-4071