What Not to Store in a Storage Unit

Krista Diamond | December 12, 2019 @ 12:00 AM

What’s the first thing you should do before you take your stuff to your new storage unit? Make sure you aren’t storing any prohibited items, of course! Whether it’s your first time or your millionth time renting a storage unit, you might think that you already have a pretty good idea of what you can’t store inside. Think again; some of the items you can’t store may surprise you. Prohibited items vary by facility, but the list below is a good overview of the things you should never, ever keep inside your storage unit:


First, a caveat. Some storage facilities do allow you to store guns, but no storage facility will allow you to store ammunition. If you need to store guns, look for a firearm storage facility that specializes in this or check with local gun shops in your area. For other types of weapons—like the live grenade that was found in August 2019 in a Michigan man’s storage unit—it’s best to forgo putting these in a storage unit. 


The ammunition mentioned above falls into this category, as do fireworks and anything else that can catch fire and explode. Those fireworks should be going off at the 4th of July—not at your storage facility. Gasoline, propane, kerosine, aerosols and fertilizers are also covered in this category. Anything that is flammable or combustible should not be kept in a storage unit. 


Don’t start a bakery in your storage unit and don’t use it as a repository for your leftovers. Trust us, even in a climate controlled storage unit, they’re not going to keep. Some facilities may be a-okay with you keeping non-perishable items in your storage unit, such as canned goods, but this is not the case everywhere, so ask before you store. This includes pet food which can also attract pests.

Illegal Substances

Are you familiar with the phrase “drive it like you stole it”? Well, we’d like to coin a new one: Don’t store it like you stole it. In other words, please don’t store anything that you stole (and maybe don’t steal in the first place). Don’t store drugs, counterfeit currency or any other type of contrband. 


Most plants need lots of sunlight, so it’s just plain mean to store them in a storage unit. Plants also attract bugs, so keeping them in your storage unit may attract pests. Storage facilities work hard to keep their properties free from creepy-crawlies, so don’t thwart their efforts by storing plants.


Sadly, animals are found in storage units more often than you’d think. In October 2019, a Florida storage facility discovered seven dogs abandoned in a storage unit with no food or water. Fortunately, the pups lived, but this is certainly not the first account of this happening. If it has fur, feathers or fins, don’t keep it in your storage unit. And if you are struggling to care for a pet, ask for help from your friends and family or contact an animal shelter about putting it up for adoption.


If the rental prices are skyrocketing in your city, that 10x10 storage unit might look like an affordable housing option. No matter how nice the facility may be, you don’t want to live in your storage unit. Not only is this prohibited; it’s dangerous.


Many, but not all storage facilities allow you to store vehicles. Those that do usually have designated areas for vehicles and strict rules around their storage. Check with your facility before parking your RV, boat, snowmobile or motorcycle. 


If a tenant moves out and leaves tires behind, it can be expensive for the facility to get rid of them. Because of this, many locations prohibit storing tires that are not part of a vehicle, or the vehicle’s spares. If you have tires to store, ask how many the facility allows, and respect their rules.

 Store Safely

Remember, every storage facility is different, so don’t be surprised if yours prohibits some things that you weren’t expecting. We reviewed lease agreements at storage facilities across the country for this article (and a few abroad), and encountered variances along the way. For example, one storage facility mentioned that jewelry, furs, artwork and “property having special or sentimental value” were all not allowed. Several others had value limits, essentially prohibiting tenants from storing anything super expensive. It’s worth noting that if you are allowed to store pricey goods and you choose to, get self storage insurance (actually, you just get self storage insurance no matter what you’re storing).

Take a look at the section on your own lease agreement marked “Use of Storage Space” to find out specifics, and ask questions if you have them. 

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Krista Diamond
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