Storage Wars, Fact or Fiction

Self Storage Auction

“Do you auction self-storage units like they do in Storage Wars?” Of all the questions we are most commonly asked when people find out we are in Self Storage, this would top the list every time. 

The simple answer is yes.

Here it is explained.  This is how units end up being auctioned and how tenants can prevent this from happening.

1.  Storage units go into default

All storage facilities are different; however, all reputable self-storage companies will require you to sign a contract that will generally require you to pay your rent one month in advance on month by month basis.

At Spacemax Self storage as a courtesy, we send out monthly invoices and reminder notices as well as phone calls for any customer who goes into default as we know that sometimes life just happens. However, you need to be aware that most contracts (including ours) say that your self-storage facility does not have to send out invoices and payment of your rent on time is your responsibility. Everything that happens when you do not pay for your storage unit is stated explicitly in the lease that you will have signed. Moreover, in the terms and conditions of your contract, you will have been made aware of the point of default on your storage unit. Simply put, this is the maximum amount of days you can go without paying rent before there are repercussions.

2.  Tenants get locked out

In New Zealand, most contracts will state that after seven days you will be considered in default and have a distinctive red lock placed on your unit and be locked out of the property. The tenant can choose to pay the outstanding bill at any time to get the overlock removed from the unit and avoid going to auction but once the default reaches 42 days you will be served with a notice to auction, and your goods will go up for auction.


The most important thing that you need to know about this entire process is that you need to communicate. The storage facility will not want to auction off your stuff. Storage auctions are not profitable and often cost the facility time and money that could be better spent maintaining the property and helping tenants. An auction is the last resort, and your facility will generally try and contact you through either phone, email, your alternate person on your contractor by mail. The facility will do everything in their power to get a hold of you, but if you haven't ensured your contact information is up to date (which is your responsibility), you may miss out on some crucial communication.

The first step you can take is to respond and communicate as best you can with your storage facility, storage managers have generally seen and heard many heartbreaking situations and are skilled in suggesting alternative solutions to avoid you going to auction.

Despite all efforts from a storage facility and tenants sometimes auctions are unavoidable. New Zealand based auctions are typically advertised on trade me, and unlike storage wars, we are required to get the best price possible for your unit and to open and photograph the unit before listing. Facilities understand that often there are often sentimental personal effects in units such as photographs, birth certificates and other precious items and will often suggest to the buyer that if any of these are discovered that they will hold them to give them back to the tenant. Remember that the storage facility is only trying to recoup the amount you owe them (including all auction costs) and that if your storage unit sells for more than what you owe you will be entitled to the remainder.

Sometimes your storage unit may not reach a high enough price to clear your debt and if you are unable to pay the remainder owing your debt will usually be lodged with a debt collection agency for recovery. It is essential to be aware that this may affect your credit rating going forward.

At the time of the auction, it can feel like one door is closing and another may never open, but things will get better. Defaulting on a storage unit is more common than you think, no different to rental properties or hire purchases and the staff at your facility are probably more empathetic to your situation than you realise.