Living In A Rental Storage Unit: Can You Do It? Is It Legal?

Let’s discuss the safety and legality of living in a rented self-storage unit

A few months ago, a video went viral about a man who was living in his rented self-storage unit after losing his home. It piqued the interest of the general public, to say the least, and questions like “Can I live in a self-storage unit?” became a top asked question on Google overnight. However, the said video is not only problematic but also misleading. It made it seem like living in a self-storage facility is glamorous and clever, but in reality, it is neither.

Self-storage units are indeed undoubtedly cheaper than most apartments. However, many people opt not to live in one for good reasons. The ones who try to temporarily live in one, though, are usually homeless and hopeless. This is not a common occurrence, but it does happen. There is a lower chance of you coming across this situation at a facility that is well-maintained and secured with lock gates and security cameras.

shelter because it is illegal to stay in rental storage unit

Where to get assistance?

If you, or someone you personally know, do not have anywhere to go, we encourage anyone going through a rough patch to reach out to the management or the staff of the storage facility. They are familiar with situations like this, and they more than likely have information on local resources like shelter and food banks. They can serve as a mediator and aid you until you get your footing.

It is possible that the facility would offer you a storage unit where you can store all your belongings safely until you find a permanent home. However, management should never allow you to linger on the premises for an extended period of time. Why? Because it is against the law.

Why is it not safe?

There are many reasons why it is illegal to live in a rental storage unit; here are the most notable few:

The doors can only be locked from the outside

Most self-storage units have roll-up doors like the ones used for garages. These doors can only be locked from the outside. Not to mention, it is part of security protocol to have a staff roam around the facility multiple times throughout the day to make sure that all unit doors are properly closed and securely locked. This is to ensure the safety of all the renter’s possessions. So if you were to live in a self-storage unit, there are high chances that you could be locked inside without any means of getting out. The least of your worries is feeling a bit claustrophobic during your stay; the worse is you could die.

There is little to no natural light

Natural light is a key part of our mental health as human beings. People who were to live in a self-storage unit could possibly experience depression, lethargy, and claustrophobia due to this kind of living condition. The absence of light and space can be particularly harmful to children.

No source of running water

If you choose to settle in a self-storage unit, you will not have other options but to either spend most of your time elsewhere or sit very quietly inside to remain discreet since you cannot be discovered because it is illegal. Either way, your usage of the bathroom and bathing options are extremely limited. You cannot keep up with your personal hygiene with no access to fresh, running water. Thus, the chances of health-related issues may arise.

Cooking is prohibited

There are a lot of activities that can break out a fire inside a self-storage unit. One of the most feasible reasons is people trying to get operate grills and stoves with no sufficient ventilation. Sadly, people settling in self-storage units are the most common cause of fires breaking out.


Getting caught

The uploader of the viral video that we mentioned earlier talked about the need to be practically invisible in order to successfully live in a self-storage unit. Sadly, this is more difficult and complicated than you think, especially with the level of technology we have now. Most, if not all, self-storage facilities are well-equipped with security protocols and HD cameras. The chances of you getting away with living in a self-storage unit is extremely unlikely. Keep in mind: if you are caught, you will be facing civil charges and permanently lose access to your unit and, consequently, your belongings.

no shelter

Can you nap in a storage unit?

Your rental contract should include a list of the things you are allowed and not allowed to do with your self-storage unit. It should also stipulate which things are forbidden to store and which activities are prohibited from being done, like sleeping or even nap in your unit, for example.

What is the worst thing that can happen to a family because they were staying in a storage unit?

We are not going to sugarcoat things because we want to reiterate the possibility of this happening: the worst thing that can happen to someone settling in a self-storage facility is death. There’s no access to fresh food, natural light, fresh air, or running water, so your survivability rate after being locked in a self-storage facility is extraordinarily low.

Under no circumstances should you ever settle in a self-storage unit. It is hard to gauge the degree of this issue, and it differed from one area to another. There are different forms of homelessness, and some people might feel desperate enough to consider living in self-storage units. However, please consider this decision as it is not just illegal but also extremely unsafe.

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