Pennsylvania has distinct storage unit laws that protect occupants and owners. And yes, they can auction off your contents.
Have you ever seen an episode of Storage Wars and wondered, can someone legally sell property in a storage facility? 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 storage facility owner has a lien on all personal property stored 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.
What if I don't pay my rent?
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 information such as:
- the amount due
- a demand for payment
- a lien statement
- a designated person for the occupant to contact
- statement 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.
What if I still don't make the payment?
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. Read here and learn of the requirements for each state. 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 storage unit laws and all legal procedures are followed to sell personal property to enforce the lien.
The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances. The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.