A Comprehensive Guide to Self Storage

Imogen Knight

Twenty4 Content Writer

Contents:

 

  1. How does self storage work?
    • Getting started with storage in 3 steps.

 

  1. What to store in self storage?
  • The 5 most common items to store.

3. What can I not store?

  • Learn what items may be unsafe to store.

 

  1. Is Self Storage Safe?
  • Ensure your unit meets SSA standards.

 

  1. What can I do to make my unit extra safe?
  • Top tips to help keep your peace of mind.

 

  1. Can you use a Self Storage Unit as a Workshop?
  • Create a personalised workspace.

 

  1. Can you use a Self Storage Unit as an Office?
  • Join other businesses utilising self-storage.

 

8.What is Climate Controlled Self Storage?

  • Store your items in ideal conditions.

 

  1. Do I need Insurance?
  • Protect your valuable possessions.

 

10.What is self storage business?

  • Learn about one of the UK’s fastest growing industries.

 

  1. How long do I need to rent the space for?
  • Choose between a short or a long term contract.

 

12.Should I store in an indoor and an outdoor facility?

  • The pros and cons of indoor and outdoor storage.

 

 

Comprehensive Guide to Self Storage

 

There are approximately 1505 self storage sites in the UK offering 44.6m sq ft of storage space. This means there are more self storage facilities in the country than there are McDonalds! Despite this, a study by the Self Storage Association (SSA) found that 60% of people couldn’t name a single storage company. Understandably, people have a lot of questions about signing up for self storage as it is a relatively new industry to the UK.  However, awareness is growing and this is beginning to change. This guide aims to provide the answers to all of your must know Self Storage questions all in one place.

 

1. How does self storage work?

Self Storage is a system where users are able to rent an empty room to store their belongings in. The empty rooms are usually called units. Storage units are private and you will access the unit using your own padlock and key. This means that self storage is secure and no one, without permission, may enter your unit. It is a do-it-yourself system and you are responsible for moving items in and out of your unit.

 

The first step is selecting the site that works best for you.

 

How to Choose a Self Storage Site:

 

  • Consider how far you want to travel.
  • Compare prices and offers.
  • Compare opening times- consider when you’ll need access to your unit. 
  • Consider what facilities are available i.e parking, forklifts, helpful staff.
  • Read reviews to find out what other storage users experienced when using the storage facility ie. if the staff were helpful.

 

Choosing a site which meets your needs will allow you to have a positive self storage experience. You can find nearby sites approved by the SSA at https://www.ssauk.com/store-locator/?SearchLocation. To be SSA approved a site  must have CCTV monitoring systems, a secure perimeter and to meet all fire and safety regulations.






The next step is to consider is how much space you will need:

 

Unit Size (sq ft)

Best Suited For

10 - Locker

A Few Medium Sized Boxes

35

Contents of a Garden Shed

75

Contents of a Studio Flat

150

Contents of a 3 Bed House

300

Large Office Furniture, Vehicles, Stock

 

It is usually possible to up or downsize if the amount you wish to store changes during the tenancy.

 

Finally, once you’ve chosen your site and have decided how much space you’ll need, you’ll be able to sign up, so long as they have units available. The sign up process is usually quick. Each site will have their own sign up procedure so it may be useful to check what you will need to bring. This may include 2 forms of ID and paying a deposit. Once you’ve signed your storage agreement you’ll be ready to move in!

 

2. What to store in self-storage

 

(SSA 2018)

According to the SSA the most common use for self-storage is social factors such as moving house, marriage, divorce or retirement. Self-storage is there to provide a safety net for people as they transition through life. Self-storage is also becoming increasingly popular with businesses to store stock as well as archives. The list of items that you can store is essentially endless!

 

Common Items to store include:

 

  1. Furniture- many people use self-storage when they are in the process of moving house. Moving actually accounts for 39% of all customers. It can be useful to keep bulky furniture in storage while any building work or decorating takes place. 
  2. Vehicles- not everyone is lucky enough to have a garage. Self-storage provides a secure place for any bikes, motor bikes, cars or caravans.
  3.  Stock- Online sellers often use self-storage as a place to keep and organise stock.
  4. General Clutter- Storage can provide somewhere to place items you wish to clear out but haven’t yet decided what to do with.
  5. Collectables- Large collections may take up a lot of space

 

Although customers often opt for self-storage as a solution to a short term problem, after realising the value of the product, many customers continue renting their unit long-term. 35% of all self storage users have actually kept their unit for more than 3 years (SSA, 2019)!

 

3. What can I not store?

 

The possibilities for your self storage unit are endless therefore the easier question to answer is ‘what can I not store?

 

Prohibited Items may include:

 

  • Anything illegal e.g- drugs, firearms, weapons, any illegally obtained items (counterfeit/ smuggled)
  • combustible or flammable materials or liquids such as gas, paint, petrol, oil or cleaning solvents
  • chemicals, radioactive materials, biological agents
  • Perishable Goods
  • Living Creatures 
  • Currency
  • Items which emits any fumes, smell or odour
  • Compressed gas

 

The listed items are prohibited across all self storage sites due to SSA standards. Some sites may have additional rules, however, so it’s important to check that your items are safe to store.

 

 

4. Is self-storage safe?

It may be difficult to trust a third-party to watch over your valuable possessions. With self storage, however, only you have the ability to open your padlock and to decide who is allowed to enter your unit. With the amount of security features at most storage sites it’s likely your items will be safer than in your own home. To meet SSA standards a site must be fully equipped with CCTV, have a secure perimeter and meet all fire and safety regulations. 

 

Self-storage sites may also provide additional security:

 

  • 24-Hour staff- many self storage sites are staffed 24 hours a day. This means that there is someone constantly monitoring the CCTV and the premises.  
  • 24-Hour CCTV- 24 hour security cameras will catch any suspicious activity and deter criminals.
  • Electronic Gates- Electronic gates ensure that only approved vehicles can gain access to the site. 

 

5. What can i do to make my unit extra safe?

Although units complying to SSA standards are extremely secure, for additional peace of mind there are extra things you can do to ensure your belongings are safe, giving additional peace of mind.

 

  • Purchase a quality padlock - quality padlocks are likely to deter criminals who will be unable to quickly snap off the lock to gain access to your unit. Cylinder and disk locks are both great options.
  • Limit the number of people who can access the unit-

Only allow those you trust access to your unit, the more people who have access the more your belongings may be at risk!

  • Purchase insurance covering the value of your items-

Even if insurance is included in your contract it may be worth purchasing additional cover to ensure your items are protected. 

  • Do not store any prohibited items - This may render your insurance invalid and leave your other items at risk.

 

 

6. Can you use a self-storage unit as a workshop

Whether you can use your self storage unit as a workshop depends on what specifically you’ll be using it for. A storage unit can provide sufficient space to store your tools so they are not cluttering up your house, as well as providing enough space to work on projects. A storage unit is much more secure than your garden shed and is better equipped to protect against harsh weather conditions. However, as mentioned many self storage units prohibit flammable materials such as gas and paint. It’s also worth considering that there may be little ventilation.

 

For art and crafts activities however which are relatively low risk there should be no trouble. However, it’s important to always check with a manager before making any changes to your unit. 

 

Feel free to read our Builder’s Workshop Blog for more information and to work out whether a storage unit workshop could meet your needs.

 

 

7. Can you use a self-storage unit as a office?

Many small-medium business owners are choosing to use a self storage unit as an office space. The rent is cheap and you get a lot of space. For instance if a business that was previously run from home has outgrown the space, a storage unit could be the next step. Not all self storage sites however will allow you to convert a unit into an office space.

 

It may be that it is not permitted to meet customers or conduct sales for instance or possibly to install telephone wires/ electric. Refer to your rental contract to find what you can and cannot do out of your unit and always consult a manager before making any changes.

 

There are however businesses that can be run without needing to alter the unit such as online retailers. 

 

 Over a third of all self storage space in the UK is used for business. Below is a graph showing the types of businesses which use self storage:

(SSA, 2018)

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. What is Climate Controlled Self Storage?

Climate controlled self storage is ideal for storing items that may be sensitive to heat, cold, humidity, dust or mould (the climate).The unit can be adapted to the conditions that best suit your item.

 

Items that should be stored in a climate controlled unit include:

  • Paintings and art collections

  • Electronics

  • Antiques
  • Wood furniture 

  • Wine
  • Mattress and pillows

A climate controlled unit may come at an extra cost but it may be worth it for the peace of mind when storing more valuable items. It may also be more cost effective in the long term when compared to the cost of replacing items that are damaged by climate conditions.

 

9. Do I need Insurance?

Self-Storage insurance protects your items against damage or theft. The items you decide to store are your responsibility and not that of the site therefore you should make sure they are covered in case of an emergency. Although self-storage facilities are designed to be secure, there is the chance that unexpected incidents may occur which means insurance is advised - at many sites it is compulsory. 

 

Tips for choosing an insurance policy:

 

  • Shop around- many storage facilities offer insurance but this may come at a premium. It may be possible to find a better deal elsewhere so it’s worth taking the time to shop around for the best deal.
  • Check your home insurance policy- Sometimes the items you place in storage may be covered under your home insurance policy so it’s worth checking before purchasing additional insurance.
  • Make sure all the items you intend to store are covered-

Ensure your cover is comprehensive. Storing prohibited items may render your insurance invalid so make sure you aren’t storing anything you shouldn’t be!

 

10. What is self storage business?

A self-storage business provides rooms, lockers, containers or outdoor space, called units, to rent for personal or business use.

 

According to the SSA there are now around 1,160 storage sites plus 345 sites offering outdoor containers. In the UK there is 44m sq ft of storage space- more than anywhere else in Europe. A self-storage business sells space. They make a profit from renting out units to customers who can then use the space to store their items either short-term or long-term. Self storage business has experienced rapid growth in the last twenty years. THis may be put down to an increased demand for property. Lofts, which were once used for storage, are often converted into extra bedrooms. People also have a great deal more stuff. There are also a rising number of start-up businesses in the UK who use storage for a variety of reasons. Many storage companies have units specifically designed to be used for business.

 

11. How long do I need to rent the space for?

One of the main benefits of storage units is that they can be used for as long as you need them - whether that’s 1 week or 10 years. Contracts can usually be cancelled at short notice so you will not need to continue paying after you have finished using your unit. 

 

This means you can also upsize or downsize downsize if your storage needs happen to change. 

 

A survey from the Self Storage Association found that 35% of customers have kept their unit for 3 years or more!

 

12. Should I store in an indoor or outdoor facility?

The kind of storage facility you opt for will depend mostly on what you want to store. 

 

Indoor Storage Facility

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outdoor Storage Facility

For storing larger items outdoor storage is generally a better option as they tend to offer larger units than indoor facilities. Also, there is the added convenience with outdoor storage of being able to drive right up to the unit. This makes loading and unloading your items a lot easier. This would not be an option in indoor storage and items would need to be carried to your unit inside the facility. This means that loading and unloading would take longer in an indoor facility.

 

On the other hand, indoor storage can be more useful if your items are more valuable. They are less likely to gather dust in an indoor facility and can even be stored in a climate controlled unit. 

 

If the unit is SSA approved then the facility should be secure no matter if the unit is inside or outside so either way you are guaranteed peace of mind.

 

Type of Storage 

Pros +

Cons -

Indoor 

  • Option for climate control

  • Easier to Keep clean

  • Sometimes more secure

  • Unable to drive up to your unit

  • Potentially smaller unit

Outdoor

  • Able to drive up to your unit

  • Units are usually larger

  • Items may gather dust

  • Not appropriate for storing high value items e.g jewellery