Pause Game of Thrones, Sherlock, Breaking Bad, Vikings, etc. for a while. If you are a storage/ home/ organizational buff, then you need to head to YouTube and watch Storage War$, an America reality TV show.
The show is based on the principle of lien (Storage Auctions). A lien is the right to hold property belonging to another person until the debt owed by that person is paid. If the debt is not paid, the lien gives the right to sell off the belongings in order to cover the liability.
In California, not reclaiming your items from self-storage facilities can have consequences. If you haven’t paid the rent on a storage locker for 3 months and aren’t responding to formal requests (made over the phone or in writing) for making the payment, the contents can be sold by an auctioneer in a cash-only auction. Professional buyers visit the self storage facility and bid in these auctions.
Buyers are allowed 5 minutes to inspect the contents of the lockers from the doorway. They cannot enter the locker or touch any item.
After the auction is done, the winning bidders go through the items in the lockers and estimate the price at which they can be sold. Sometimes, they take the help of professionals when the locker contains some unusual or unique item.
At the end of the episode, the buyer’s net profit or loss is display after showing the cost vs the estimated value of the items.
Delving into the world of storage auctions
The show does an excellent job of making audiences aware of another hitherto unexplored world- that of storage auctions.
The main reason why storage auctions are held in the first place is that the self storage company wants to recoup its losses.
Even though the auction is a necessity, most owners aren’t too fond of the process themselves. They realize that the items they are selling are someone’s personal belongings. The thought of selling them off to strangers gives rise to a strange, singular melancholic tone.
As such, many self storage companies require that successful auction bidders return personal belongings like tax records, bills, photographs, passports, etc. The customer who owns them has a set no. of days to reclaim those items.
The customer can also contact the company offices to have their contact information passed to the buyer. The buyer can then return any items to the original owner him/herself.
In most cases, the auction isn’t enough to make up for the company’s loss- one in the form of the rent due, and the other in the way of what it cost to hold the sale auction. These auctions are also time-consuming and require employees to be present somewhere else, other than their regular job posts. As a result, companies firmly stand in favor of consistent and timely payments.
If the auction brings in more than the due rent, then the excess amount is sent off to the customer. If any checks are returned by mail because they were ‘undeliverable’, they are deemed as abandoned property and disbursed.
There you have it. You got to know about the little-known world of storage auctions, and a reality TV show might be more exciting than Bigg Boss. You’re welcome.