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Storage unit damage: who is responsible if insects or rodents attack?

Woman claims her personal belonging were ruined.
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Posted at 5:29 PM, Jan 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-11 09:45:58-05

Too often, you don't think about needing a protection plan until it's too late. If you are renting a storage unit, or considering renting one, you need to hear what happened to one woman whose items were damaged in a storage unit.

Kara McCormick needed storage during a recent move and rented a unit at an Extra Space Storage facility in Ohio, filling it with furniture, artwork, and other belongings.

But when she returned, she found what looked like mice droppings on the floor. Worse, she says she saw several mice scurrying around.

"There were mice coming out of all kinds of crevices," she said.

McCormick said her boxes and clothing were chewed through.

"It's a loss," she said.

What to know before you rent storage space

Storage facilities are popular and tend to be very secure. But before you put any of your valuable belongings into one of these units, you need to ask about who is responsible for fire, insect, water, or rodent damage.

Clare Trapasso of Realtor.com said first check with your home or rental insurance provider.

"Often times, storage units are covered under your policies," she said.

If not, many facilities will sell you insurance coverage: for instance, Extra Space's website offers insurance starting at $11 a month.

Next, Trapasso said it is essential to store items properly to avoid damage.

She suggests using plastic bins with tight lids to prevent insects or moisture from getting to clothing, books, or other items.

"I would wrap them with moving blankets. Think about the last time you moved and how things were packed during your move," she said.

Trapasso says you should never store:

  • Anything with personal information -- like your banking information or Social Security Number.
  • Food or pet food, which will attract mice.
  • Valuables or family heirlooms that can never be replaced.

We reached out to Extra Space Storage, where a spokesperson told us its protection plan would have covered pest damage, but unfortunately, McCormick had opted out.

"They said if I had the insurance that it would be a different story," she said.

However, the company says it did give her one month of free rent for her troubles.

In addition, Extra Space says pest control inspects the property biweekly and treats units anytime it sees activity.

But there are always risks with any storage unit.

"I had a lot of sentimental things that I was trying to keep safe, and it did not turn out that way," McCormick said.

That is why you should have insurance, so you don't waste your money.

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FULL STATEMENT FROM EXTRA SPACE STORAGE:

Extra Space’s Customer Protection Plan, our insurance product, covers damage caused by pests (also insect, water damage, etc.). It is Extra Space’s official company policy and stated on the lease that tenants are responsible for having insurance coverage for the items stored in their unit. We highly encourage using our insurance product since it covers more than a typical renter’s policy. Unfortunately, as you mentioned, this tenant opted out of our coverage, but the majority of Extra Space customers do have this insurance which covers damage caused by pests.

This is not a typical situation for us, but I wanted you to be aware that the rodent issue at this property was isolated to a small area of units, and once we were aware, the team worked to fix this issue. Extra Space also has a pest control vendor who visits the property bi-weekly for inspections, and anytime we see activity.

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