Storage auctions are currently the subject of a little bit of hype. Reality TV programmes like Auction Hunters or Storage Wars arguably make them look a little bit more exciting and profitable than they actually are, so it’s probably worth going over a few of the rules.
Although there are fortunes to be made and excitement to be had from stumbling over long-lost treasures in an abandoned storage locker, it’s certainly not an everyday occurrence. Mostly, we need to auction of the contents of a storage unit to cover the costs from someone not paying their rent for an extended period.
Don’t worry – we don’t start selling stuff off the second a payment is missed. The full procedure to contact customers and come to an arrangement that doesn’t involve the loss of any belongings lasts for 50 days, and the auction is always a last resort.
On that 50th day, it’s time to start preparing for an auction! If you’re looking for a Storage Wars-type proceeding from here then we’re afraid you’re out of luck – we don’t invite everyone down to yell out bids until we have a winner, although some storage companies in the UK do. Instead, we do everything by a much fairer sealed bid auction
We cut open the lock and take some photos of the unit from the outside – no one is allowed to enter until the auction is completed – and send them around to our hundreds of interested bidders. We’ve got about 900 on the list at the moment, and we’re always happy to have more! Anyone interested can make an offer, and the entirety of the unit goes to the highest bidder. That’s right – the entire unit, not individual items. That’s why no one is allowed in in advance of the auction: so they can’t go snooping around for rarities.
The winning bidder must pay in cash immediately, and they have seven days to clear out the unit – or to decide to rent it under their own name. You don’t get everything inside, though – if you win a storage auction, you have to return any personal photos, legal documents, tax records and identification to Space Station so we can return it to the owner. It’s common sense, really, as there’s no chance the winner could have any legal uses for such things!
So it may not be quite as exciting an event as US TV programmes may make it look, but we like to think our way of doing things provides a little more dignity, convenience, and confidentiality for both the bidders and the previous owner. And that’s not to say it’s not exciting – British storage unit users still squirrel away as weird and wonderful a selection of treasures as they do across the Atlantic, and we’ve now got our own version of Storage Hunters to match as the trend picks up. Who knows what you could find?