Many people use self-storage facilities for a variety of reasons. It is important to know your rights when you put your property in a self-storage unit. There is a specific Maine law that covers self-storage facilities. This law is called the Self-Service Storage Act.
What is a self-storage facility?
Maine law defines a self-storage facility as “any real property used for renting or leasing individual storage spaces under a written rental agreement in which the occupants themselves customarily store and remove their own personal property on a self-service basis.” You can read the law here.
In other words, in Maine a self-storage facility is a property where you can rent space to store things and take them out of storage yourself when you need them.
Can I rent a self-storage unit to live in?
No. This is not allowed under Maine law.
I heard the self-storage business has a lien on things stored there – is that true? What does this mean?
Yes, a lien is automatically placed on personal property in a storage unit when it is stored there.
In this case, a lien means that you could lose access to or ownership of your property if you do not pay what is owed on your storage unit. Read more below about how this works, when you may need to worry about this lien, and what you can do to avoid losing your things.
What happens if I am late with my monthly storage payment?
If you are late with your payment, the owner can restrict your access to your unit. You should still be allowed to view it.
A self-storage business can charge late fees. There is a three-day grace period on these payments. This means if you can make your full payment by the third day after the due date, the business cannot charge a late fee. If you are more than three days late, or not able to make a full payment, the storage business can charge a late fee.
Late fees must:
- Be reasonable. Under Maine law, a late fee of $20 or 20% of the monthly rent, whichever is higher, is almost always considered reasonable.
- Be stated clearly in the rental agreement – not just in the fine print.
Fees can also be charged for rent collection or lien enforcement – money the business spends trying to get a payment from you or using the lien on your things in storage
If you are 45 days late with your payment, the owner can take further steps. Read more on this in the next section below.
Can a self-storage owner throw out or sell my property?
If you are more than 45 days late with your payment, the owner may either throw out your property or sell it.
- If your property is worth less than $750, the owner can usually throw it out or sell it without any further notice to you.
- If the owner believes that the property is worth $750 or greater, they can sell it after giving you at least 15 days’ notice of the sale. This notice may come before the 45 days is up. You can get your property back by paying what is due at any point before it is sold or thrown out.
Carefully read your contract. If it says that the maximum value of the property you can store in the unit is below $750, the self-storage operator can dispose of your property as if it were worth less than $750 – no matter how much it is actually worth.
If an owner sells my property, am I entitled to any money left over after my charges are paid?
Yes, but you have to claim it within 90 days after the sale. You can contact the self-storage business directly to claim any money left over after the sale of your property.