I have recently drafted a Self-Service Storage Unit Rental Agreement that is now available and being sold at Wisconsin Legal Blank Co., Inc.  Additionally I have drafted two seperate default notices that should be sent to the tenant who has breached the rental agreement for the self-service storage unit.  The two default notices contain differernt language as required per Wisconsin’s new law regarding self-service storage facilities and units.

Self-service storage facilities in Wisconsin are governed by sec. 704.90, Wis. Stats., which is the chapter that deals with landlord tenant relationships.  While a self-service storage unit involves a landlord tenant relationship, the laws governing these facilities and units is very different than the laws governing an apartment unit or other rental property.

Sec. 704.90 is specific to self-service storage facilities and units.  It does not apply to storage units that are incidental to the rental of a apartment unit.  For example, sec. 704.90 (and the new forms that I have drafted) would not be used if a tenant is renting an apartment unit that includes the use of a storage unit in the basement.

The laws regarding self-service storage units were significantly changed by 2009 Wisconsin Act 380 (2009 Assembly Bill 707) which is the reason that I decided to draft the new rental agreement and notice of default forms.

Some of the changes in the new law include the following:

1.     The new law makes current statutory provisions governing self-service storage facilities also apply to self-service storage units.  A self-service storage units include a box, shipping container, or trailer that is leased by a tenent primarily for use as a storage space whether the unit is located at a facility owned or operated by the owner or at a locations designated by the tenant.  This change in the law was made to address the new PODS type units that are being leased to people who store the units off-site from the self-service storage facility.

2.   The new law requires that if a self-service storage facility rental agreement includes a provision that limits the value of the property stored, that the clause must be printed in bold or underlined type of the same size as the rest of the agreement.  The limit listed in any agreement is presumed to be the maximum value of the property stored in the unit.

3.     After the termination of the rental agreement, an owenr may deny the tenant access to the personal property remaining in the leased space until the tenant redeems the property by paying the owner any rent and other charges that are due. 

4.   The owner may sell the property after providing two notices to the tenant, and if the tenant does not redeem the property within fourteen days after the date of the second notice. 

5.   The new law provides that the second notice of default may be sent via certified mail or by first class mail with a certificate of mailing.

6.   If the tenant does not redeem the property, then an owner who wishes to sell the property, must publish an advertisement of the sale once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation where the self-service storage facility is located.

6.     The new law eliminates the old requirement that an owner’s advertisement of the sale of the abandoned property include the nubler of the space where the property was located.

7.     The old law required that any sale of the abandoned property be conducted in a “commercially reasonable manner.”  The new law states that the sale must meet one of the following requirements: (a) the property is offerred as a single parcel or multiple parcels at a public sale attended by three or more bidders, (b) the property has been offerred to at least three persons who deal with the type of personal property offerred for sale and is sold in a provate transaction, or (c) the property is sold in another manner that is commercially reasonable.

8.   The new law allows the owner or operator of the self-service storage facility to do the following with the property if they do not want to sell the property, if the value of the property is less than $100 and proper notice is provided: (a) donate it to a non-profit organization, (b) dispose of it in a solid waste facility, (c) recycle it, (d) remove it in another reasonable manner.

9.   The old law allowed “any person” to bring a civil lawsuit for a violation of the self-service storage facility laws — this resulted in a very well known 2008 lawsuit entitled Cook v. Public Storage Inc., in which the owner/operator was sued by the parents of a tenant, who happened to also store some of their belongings in the tenant’s self-service storage units.  The new law allows only the “lessee” (tenant) to bring such a lawsuit.

For those of you owning and operating self-service storage facilties and units I hope the new rental agrrement, Notice of Default #1, and Notice of Default #2, prove helpful in assisting that you follow the applicable laws.

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