Customer learns storage unit law the hard way

CHARLOTTE — A woman told Action 9 that she lost some of her belongings at a storage facility, and when she tried to buy them back in an auction, her fight went from bad to worse.

Tina Clark rented two units at 10 Federal Self Storage in Monroe. “Yard furniture, electronic equipment, family heirlooms, and sofas and chairs,” she told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke.

In September, the price went up. Clark says she paid some but not all, out of protest. “It confuses me and it disillusions me that this is going on,” she said.

In October, the facility emailed her to pay the rest, or it would sell her belongings. “It’s not been good. It’s taken its toll on me,” she said. “It’s very stressful and confusing.”

10 Federal Self Storage emailed Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke saying at one point it offered for both sides to go their separate ways and that Clark could “recover her property ... without paying anything,” but that she said no.

In November, the company went ahead with the auction.

The business said, “It is always unfortunate when a self-storage facility must enforce its ... rights for non-payment.” It added that, “Clark could have recovered her property at any time prior to the sale,” but that “she elected not to.”

Someone bought everything from one of Clark’s units in the auction. She bid on the other unit’s items and won, but under North Carolina law, tenants aren’t allowed to bid on their own property. So, the sale didn’t count.

Clark sued and showed Action 9 an email she says the company’s lawyer sent her offering to settle. She says she said yes and dropped the lawsuit.

Here are some other quirks of storage unit law you may not think about:

- A company can’t go inside your unit without permission. That means it can’t throw away your items, and if it auctions them, it can only open the door and take pictures from the outside.

- You have up until the last minute (before a sale) to pay and keep your belongings.

- If your unit sells for more than you owe, the business only gets its share, you get the rest.

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