2017 has been a tough year for Humphrey Weaver. "I need help, I'm just getting back on my feet."
His brother took his own life in March and his mom passed away just a few weeks later in early April.
Still trying to recover from those losses, Humphrey needed somewhere to store most of the things his mom left for him, so he rented a storage unit at a Life Storage facility in Bessemer.
"It's all I had left of my mom," said Weaver.
Weaver says he came back to check on this stuff a month or two later. "It was just rat poop everywhere. My TV, my big screen TV was pooted on, it was just a disaster."
Weaver showed us pictures of some of the damage, but Weaver says the real damage came when he tried to get reimbursed for what he lost.
Weaver says his estimate of the value of the items damaged added up to $13,000, but the insurance policy he took out as part of the rental agreement capped his payout at $2,000, and that's all the facility was willing to pay.
"They had the nerve to tell me basically, "Well sir, that's all we can do." I'm like, really? You're not giving me nothing but this? This is not right. I was thinking my stuff was gonna be safe, and you got rats,” Weaver said.
Then, to add what Humphrey considers insult to injury, he got a collection notice saying he owes the storage facility another $500 for storing the damaged stuff left behind after he salvaged what he could.
After both the local and corporate office didn't return out calls, we went to the facility looking for some answers, but were denied entry.
We did reach the Life Storage corporate office who gave us this statement:
Throughout the 30+ year history of our company, Life Storage has placed the highest priority on preventative maintenance of our buildings and properties, including pest control. Our stores engage licensed pest control companies to monitor and treat the premises on a regular basis. As well, our rental agreement expressly forbids the storage of food; unfortunately, people sometimes do so without our knowledge and this can lead to problems in adjacent and surrounding spaces.
Upon renting his storage space, Mr. Weaver opted for $2,000 worth of insurance coverage on his stored belongings. He has since received a settlement from the insurance company for that amount. It is unfortunate that he did not fully insure the value of his belongs, as our rental agreement clearly states that Life Storage does not provide coverage for customer’s goods. Renting a storage unit is not dissimilar from leasing an apartment, our company maintains responsibility for the surrounding building and premises, with the renter carrying responsibility for the items inside.
Concerning the collection notice that Mr. Weaver received - after he removed the items he wanted from his storage space, we requested that he sign an abandon space notice, which is standard protocol for the protection of both parties. When the notice was not received, our store associates proceeded as outlined in our policies. Subsequently, charges continued to accrue on Mr. Weaver’s account and it was sent to collections. It has come to our attention that Mr. Weaver had a different understanding of the next steps and for that we apologize. To that end, we are reversing all accrued charges on his account and discontinuing the collection effort.
So how can you prevent this from happening to you? Rental experts say the best plan is to do a thorough estimate of the value of whatever you're storing when you first rent your unit, and make sure you take out enough coverage to cover all of that value. Humphrey says he took out this small amount because that's all he could afford and he thinks the storage company can and should do better.
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