October 21, 2019

Self-Storage Litigation Scare

Fire! Anger. Litigation. Loss.


Michael looked over at his computer, reading details and confirming he typed everything right. 

“Okay, you’re all set for our small unit. That’s going to be 4-24B. You’ll need to bring your own lock, or we have some available to purchase over on that wall. Any questions?”

“No, I’m all set” the new tenant replied. 

“Great, I’ll take you there just now.”

As he walked, Michael cycled through his usual small talk, throwing in a joke about the cold weather. 

As the two made their way down a long hallway to the fourth wing a strange smell wafted in. They came up to a window where Michael stopped short. Thick black smoke was pouring from the third wing. Pulling out his phone to dial 911 he shouted back to the tenant to wait there as he ran ahead to investigate further.

He got to the third wing and shouted down the hallway to see if anyone was there. 

No response and no visible sign of any tenants.

As he tried to answer the emergency responders’ questions he wracked his brain trying to remember if he saw anyone on the security camera that day. Luckily he had grabbed his disaster planning notebook on his way out of the office. Using this he follows the correct procedures, holding on to that list like a lifeline to help keep himself together while directing the frightened new tenant and the two others he found in the second wing on their way back to the office area.

Once they were safe he called the facility owner multiple times but kept getting voicemail. After the third message, he stepped back into the office to talk to the tenants. A small crowd had gathered while firefighters began their work on the third wing.

Michael tried to reassure everyone that only the third wing was affected. And confirmed he would need to go work with the firefighters to ensure they had what they need.

Less than pacified, but unable to do anything about it, the tenants settled in to wait for Michael’s return.

Several days and many angry phone calls later, Michael had been chewed out by just about every tenant in the third wing for not offering any kind of insurance in case of fire.

The owner finally had returned Michael’s calls and worked to get everything resolved and take over the management of the disaster.

Several months later, a handful of tenants have filed a small-claims court litigation against the facility for failing to offer protection in case of fire.

They win their case and the owner is forced to pay damages on top of what he already has to pay for his own disaster insurance deductible.


This was based on a true story

This exact type of situation has happened to multiple owners and managers. While this particular story and its characters are fictional, we’ve had owners approach us after a similar situation occurred at their facility.

Litigation can take an already tragic situation and make it that much worse. And if you don’t offer some form of a protection plan for your tenants you are leaving yourself at risk.

Tenant protection Isn’t only about the money

Providing protection or insurance coverage is one way to add profit to your facility, sure, but it’s also a risk management decision. You can prevent litigations like the one from the story simply by having the option. 

That being said you can’t stop there. Say you offer a protection plan but your managers aren’t attempting to sell it to tenants. Now imagine something does happen and your tenants aren’t covered.
They’ll still have a legitimate case showing that while you did have the option it was never offered. High-quality sales training for your tenants can make the difference in preventing litigation or at least making the case go your way.

Tenant protection also protects your managers

Did you notice how much emotional destruction was aimed at the manager in this story? They’ll more than likely be the ones to uncover a disaster, deal with the immediate ramifications, and be responsible for pacifying the tenants. When you offer a protection plan, your managers can reassure tenants that they’ll have coverage and will be able to submit a claim in due time. It gives them an actionable answer to present to the affected and helps your tenants to feel satisfied that they are going to be taken care of.

Tenant protection also protects your reputation

The one part of the story we didn’t tell is how the facility’s reputation is hurt when a disaster happens. There is no small amount of fear around the event itself, but if it’s not handled well there will be additional fallout. In the age of social media and internet outrage, you can almost guarantee that your reputation will suffer should ANYTHING happen at your facility. It will be much more damaging if it’s found you did nothing to prevent your tenants from having nothing to cover their losses.

Lose the fear, gain a partner

This is where our team comes to bat. With our award-winning program, lightening fast claims services and some of the best customer-service reps in the industry, you will always be in good hands. We make sales and marketing very easy with online training, tons of resources, and eye-catching-ly beautiful marketing materials. When you sell TPP plans at your facility you’re saving yourself a whole lotta trouble and giving peace of mind to yourself, your managers, and your tenants. Take the fear of litigation out when you partner with Tenant Property Protection.