How Does the Storage Unit Eviction Process Work?

Even the best-run self-storage businesses will inevitably encounter tenants who violate their lease agreements. This article covers those common offenses and provides steps on how to evict tenants legally. You'll also learn preventive measures to avoid future evictions so your self-storage units can be as profitable as possible.

Nichole Stohler
Last Updated
June 21, 2024
How Does the Storage Unit Eviction Process Work?

Your self-storage facility is booming, and everything is running smoothly. Then, out of the blue, you're suddenly faced with a tenant violating their lease agreement. Whether it's missed rent payments or storing prohibited items, you now have to determine the best path for resolving this issue.

When breaches occur, you need to act swiftly and follow the proper legal procedures to evict the problematic tenant and reclaim your rental unit. Failing to handle evictions correctly can lead to costly legal battles and lost revenue. This article covers the typical reasons for self-storage evictions, the step-by-step legal process for removing tenants, and proactive measures to help avoid these situations in the first place.

Keep reading to learn how you can protect your investment, get your units back, and re-rent to reliable tenants who won't jeopardize your business.

Steps to evict self-storage tenants

Here's what to do if you need to initiate a self-storage eviction:

Step 1: Identify the lease violation

Document the specific violation of the lease agreement by the tenant. Violations that most storage facilities encounter are:

  • Non-payment of rent: Failure to pay rent is the primary reason for eviction. After the renter misses payments, even after getting notices, you may start the eviction process.
  • Violation of the rental agreement: Self-storage facility owners can evict tenants for violating rental terms, such as storing prohibited items like flammable materials or firearms.
  • Illegal activity: If the renter uses the unit for illegal activities, like drug manufacturing or storing stolen goods, this could lead to immediate eviction.
  • Exceeding limits: A tenant may try overloading the unit beyond its capacity or using more space than allotted, which can create safety hazards.
  • Improper use of the unit: Using the unit for purposes other than storage, such as living in it or operating a business, violates the rental agreement.
  • Damage to property: Tenants causing damage to the facility, whether intentional or due to negligence, can be evicted.
  • Health and safety violations: Storing items that attract pests, emit strong odors, or create health hazards can lead to eviction motivated by a need to protect the facility's environment as well as other tenants.

Step 2: Provide notice of lease termination

Issue a written eviction notice to the tenant that states the lease violation, when they must vacate the self-storage unit, and the consequences for non-compliance. If the issue is non-payment of rent, most states require storage facility operators to give the tenant 3-5 days to comply before you can take further action.

If you need to evict the renter for another type of violation, the notice timeframe changes depending on the severity of the issue and your local regulations.

You can give the notice in person or via certified mail. In some jurisdictions, posting it on the unit's door also counts as serving notice.

Step 3: Take appropriate action

The next step you take depends on the nature of the lease agreement breach:

Non-paying tenant

If the renter hasn't paid rent, you may be able to pursue a lien sale. This involves auctioning off the tenant's belongings to help you recover the unpaid rent. Check to make sure you have this in your rental agreement and that your state regulations support this option.

After you've sent the written notice, here's how the auction process works:

  • Final notice: You'll send another final notice to the tenant, this time announcing that you plan to auction off their belongings and give them one last chance to pay the overdue rent.
  • Public notice of auction: Most states require you to list the auction publicly. Check your local laws for rules around this process.
  • Conducting the auction: Hold the auction according to legal guidelines, which can include hiring a licensed auctioneer. Be sure to document all steps taken and the outcome of the auction.

Other violations

For violations other than non-payment, such as illegal activities or property damage, you'll need to file an eviction lawsuit through the court system. Key steps in this process are:

  • Filing the lawsuit: Submit all the relevant information to the appropriate court in your area. This should include the storage rental agreement, records of the violation, and the termination notice.
  • Court hearing: Attend the court hearing and present your case to a judge.
  • Court order: If the court rules in your favor, you'll receive an eviction order, which legally permits you to remove the tenant's belongings from the unit. You may need assistance from law enforcement to enforce the eviction order, especially if the tenant is illegally occupying the unit.

Avoiding storage unit evictions

The ideal scenario for every self-storage facility owner is that you avoid tenant issues and violations in the first place. Or, at the very least, you catch them early so you can address them quickly before situations escalate.

Using an all-in-one management platform like Azibo provides tools and capabilities to help prevent eviction problems from happening, such as:

Detailed tenant screening

Azibo's background reports enable you to screen tenants by checking their credit history, rental history, and references. This upfront legwork helps you avoid problematic renters who may default on payments or violate the lease agreement down the road.

Collect rent online

The easier you make it for renters to pay rent, the better your chances of getting paid on time. Azibo's rent collection capabilities allow your renters to pay rent using online payments and set up automatic withdrawals. This convenience helps tenants stay current with their payments and reduces the likelihood of defaults.

Provide reminders and notices

It's a good idea to send renters payment reminders and notices of upcoming due dates. You can set this up in Azibo's system so that you increase the chances of tenants paying rent on time.

Monitor financial data

Keeping a close eye on the financial side of your self-storage business can also help you catch any potential payment issues before they become major problems. Take advantage of Azibo's reporting and accounting software to track expenses, generate financial statements, and get an overall picture of your facility's performance.

How to evict someone living in a storage unit

Dealing with self-storage evictions is unfortunate but sometimes necessary for operating a successful facility. Follow state laws, provide proper notice, and use lien, auction processes, or court procedures to manage these situations.

Your best defense is to use preventative measures, including tenant screening and convenient rent payment systems, which can help avoid evictions in the first place. With the right strategies and understanding of the eviction process, you can protect your self-storage business while staying on the right side of the law.

Storage unit eviction process FAQs

What happens if you walk away from a storage unit?

If you walk away from a storage unit and stop paying rent, the storage facility will eventually lock you out, issue a notice of default, and begin the lien process. The storage operator may auction your belongings to cover the unpaid rent after a specified period.

Does abandoning a storage unit hurt your credit?

Yes, abandoning a storage unit can hurt your credit if the facility reports the unpaid debt to credit agencies or if they send the account to collections.

Could a person live in a storage unit?

No, living in a storage unit is illegal and violates the terms of most rental agreements. Storage units lack proper living conditions and facilities.

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Nichole Stohler

Nichole co-founded Gateway Private Equity Group, with a history of investments in single-family and multi-family properties, and now a specialization in hotel real estate investments. She is also the creator of, a blog dedicated to real estate investing.

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