Question: What can happen to property in a storage facility if rent is not paid?
Answer provided by: Kevin Cornish, Esq. from HighSwartz Attorneys At Law LLP
Have you ever seen an episode of Storage Wars and wondered, can someone legally sell property in a storage facility? Or, how can they legally do that? Storage Wars takes place in California, and I am not here to discuss California law. However, Pennsylvania does have a law governing self-storage facilities and the short answer, in Pennsylvania, is Yes, they can do that.
In Pennsylvania, the Self-Service Storage Facilities Act, 73 P.S. § 1901 et seq. (“Act”), governs these self storage facilities. Importantly, the Act provides that the owner has a lien on all personal property stor
ed in the facility. The lien is superior to all other liens except those that existed prior to the placement of the personal property in the facility. The rental agreement must inform the occupant of this lien.
In the event that occupant fails to pay rent for a period of 30 days, the owner can begin proceedings to sell the contents. The owner must provide notice to the occupant of the default. The notice must be delivered in accordance with the Act and contain items such as the amount due, a demand for payment, a lien statement, a designated person for the occupant to contact, and that the contents will be advertised and sold if the delinquent rent is not paid. The owner also has the right to deny the occupant access to the space until the delinquency is paid.
If the occupant still fails to make payment, the owner can proceed with advertising a sale of the contents. The owner must advertise the sale two times in a newspaper of general circulation. There are various requirements for the contents of the advertisement. Additionally, the sale must occur at least 10 days after the first advertisement.
If the delinquent amount remains unpaid, the owner is free to sell the contents of the storage facility to satisfy the owner’s lien. Third parties can bid on, and purchase, the contents of the storage unit.
If you are a self-storage facility owner or renter, it is vital to assure that your rental agreements comply with the Act and all legal procedures are followed to sell personal property to enforce the lien.
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More about this Montgomery Bar Association member-panelist (bio provided by this attorney prior to publication):
Kevin Cornish is an attorney at High Swartz. He focuses his practice on commercial, civil, and contract & business litigation. His clients include individuals as well as local, regional, and national businesses. Kevin has handled cases involving contract disputes, the Mechanic’s Lien Law, the Contractor Subcontractor Payment Act, the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Real Estate Seller Disclosure Law, and the Landlord Tenant Act. Kevin’s experience includes resolving cases through trial, arbitration, and negotiation.
Prior to joining High Swartz LLP, Kevin represented clients as a litigation associate for a prominent Montgomery County law firm as well as a small firm in the King of Prussia area. Kevin attended Penn State University for his undergraduate studies before studying law at George Mason University. During law school, Kevin served as Articles Selection Editor for the George Mason Civil Rights Law Journal.