Can You Share a Storage Unit With Friends and Family?

Written by: StorageUnits.com Editorial Team - Updated: Aug 9, 2022

 

Are you concerned about the cost of self-storage? One option for saving money is to split your unit with friends, family members, or anyone else you may know who needs a storage solution. But be aware this can lead to conflicts if you’re not careful.

In this guide, we’ll go over all the pros and cons of shared storage units, and some best practices that will help you make this arrangement work well for everyone involved.

 

Advantages To Sharing a Storage Unit

There are many factors that affect the cost of self-storage units, including:

  • Climate Control: Depending on what you plan to store, you may want to control the temperature in your unit to keep it from getting too hot or too cold. You can expect units with climate control to cost more to rent than standard units. 
  • Security: Many self-storage facilities use measures such as perimeter fencing, 24/7 video surveillance, and on-site security staff to deter criminals and prevent theft. Facilities with the strongest security usually charge more than their less-secure competitors.
  • Location: Storage facilities within cities or suburbs tend to charge higher rates than facilities located in more rural areas.  

If you’re on a tight budget, you might not be able to afford all these features on your own. You could give up some of these attributes to bring the cost down, but sacrificing climate control would not be wise if you plan to store items such as stamps, artwork, or leather furniture. Also, sacrificing security could increase the risk that items are stolen from your unit, and not choosing an ideal location could make getting to and from your storage unit much more inconvenient. 

Indeed, this is why many people decide to share their unit with others — you can get all the features you want at a price you can actually afford. 

Disadvantages To Sharing a Storage Unit

 However, to take advantage of the benefits of sharing your unit, you must give up some control. This is the most difficult aspect of sharing self-storage units with friends and family. You’ll need to trust that everyone who has access to the unit will be able to keep up with their end of the payment. They also need to maintain security (by not losing their keys or forgetting to lock up when they leave), and keep their part of the space uncluttered. And there will be extra pressure to not make any mistakes regarding cleanliness or security yourself, as now other people will need to deal with the consequences. 

These issues can lead to bitter disputes, especially if someone’s actions cause another person’s items to be ruined or stolen. In the best case scenario, such disagreements will be quickly resolved with an apology and some monetary compensation if necessary. At worst, no one will agree on who is responsible and the incident develops into long-term tension. Is saving some money on self-storage worth the risk of potentially damaging your relationship with a friend or family member?  

Best Practices for Sharing a Storage Unit

It’s possible to share self-storage units without putting a strain on your personal relationships. By following the tips listed below, you’ll be able to prevent most disputes and quickly resolve any  issues that do pop up.

Set up a formal agreement

Since you’re dealing with friends and family, you may be tempted to just agree verbally on how everyone will use the unit rather than formalizing the arrangement with a written agreement. 

We recommend you resist that temptation. Everyone involved should sign a document that details how the payment is split up, how the payment will be submitted, and who has access to the unit. While some providers allow multiple people to pay for a single unit, others require the payment to come from only one account. In that case, the group will need to decide on who they are most comfortable with pooling the money and sending the payment. Also, some members of the group may want to give other people, such as their children, access to the unit. Before anyone else is provided with access, it should be required that the entire group is notified and gives their approval. 

Written agreements make most disputes easy to resolve, as you’ll often be able to just refer to the document to see who is in the wrong. 

Physically divide the space

Your agreement should also spell out exactly how much space each person will get, which should correspond to how much each person is paying. For example, if you’re paying for 75% of the bill, then you deserve 75% of the space. One effective trick for making this division absolutely clear is using painter’s tape on the floor to add a visual aid for separating the unit. 

Clean the space together

Another common issue with shared storage units is that some members of the group may have a problem with cleaning up after themselves in their part of the unit. This can stir up feelings of resentment in those who are making the effort to keep their section tidy. To prevent a dispute, make cleaning a shared task. Each person can take turns cleaning the unit, or you can schedule a time for everyone to meet up and clean together.

Pros and Cons of Sharing a Storage Unit

Note that it can be difficult to share a storage space with friends and family. But if you’re willing to work together to create an understanding on how the space will be used and follow through on the agreed-upon terms, this method will allow you to significantly lower the cost of self-storage.

Pros Cons
Reduces the cost of self-storage Will need to depend on others to keep the unit clean and secure
May allow you to access premium features you could not afford on your own Can lead to disputes and strained personal relationships
May be more difficult to arrange payments to the self-storage provider