Storage unit contents auctioned

About six years ago, I had a rental unit whose contents were temporarily seized for non-payment of rent. I had the rental unit paid automatically by credit card but didn't realize that the credit card had expired. They left one message on my answering machine but I guess it got lost in the welter of messages. Thirty days later they broke into my locker.

One of the items in the locker was my grandfather's shotgun from the 1930s and when they opened the locker and found the shotgun, they called the police. I had a hell of a time getting that old shotgun back from the police.

A warning to anyone renting one of those storage places: don't put anything in there that you consider irreplaceable or valuable and don't assume that it is paid every month unless you personally walk in and make the payment. I would NEVER again rent from one of those guys and I had been a steady customer of UHaul storage on Alexis for almost ten years. I wouldn't even rent one of their vehicles to move something. They are nasty, unforgiving people. Do not trust the storage rental guys. They are more than happy to seize and sell your stuff. And it absolutely does not matter how long you have done business with them.

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My ex husband got "custody" of the storage unit and was making it difficult for me to get the few things I had in it that were of sentimental value to me, like my high school year book, and other things like my wedding dress that had been professionally sealed, photos, etc.

He didn't tell me he was behind on the rent and I discovered too late that the items had been auctioned off. I often wondered who would want my year book and photos, yet someone bought them.

Supposedly personal papers are not supposed to be auctioned off, which really raises questions of identity theft, etc., but that particular unit didn't follow the law. Everything was sold even boxes of my children's early school work that we had stored there.

Kind of creepy...

We don't remember days only moments...

Unfortunately Lisa, it's not as creepy as it is sad.

An auctioneer's job is to sell all the contents of the unit. In doing so, they and their staff often times need to box things up and parcel them off. They'll see some high school memorabilia, or some childrens' work, and know that no one would want to buy it, but it's their job to get rid of it...

So what they'll do is take the children's school work and put it in a box, and toss an old pair of binoculars on top of it. They'll take your yearbooks, and box them up, and put an am/fm radio in with them.

Then the bid is for the box with all its contents. The people get the box, grab the one thing in it they really did want, and then - sadly, pitch the rest.

So, I dont know if this helps you or saddens you - maybe both, but I seriously doubt that some creep is reading all the thoughts that your friends had written to you inside your yearbook, or reading the stories your kids had composed as children...

The real creep is the one who let that stuff be sold.

And one of the many reasons he's an "ex"


We don't remember days only moments...

Even Paris Hilton wasn't immune to her belongings being auctioned off, after a storage unit rental went unpaid.

I've gone to storage unit auctions - units that auctioneers had bought all units from & divided into box lots of course (and billy is right about how they do that). I have seen familes - with kids, watching as their lives are auctioned off. The auction houses I've been to that do storage unit auctions forbid the original owners of the storage unit contents to bid on their own items & they are quick to catch when they think it's happening & will call them out in front of everybody about it, and tell them unless they paid up all past due rent, they are forbidden to bid on their stuff. I have seen alert auctioneers (most are) who are quick to notice if somebody seems to be bidding on only one lot number (storage unit, which can have many box lots) - who appear to be bidding to reclaim items for the original owners of the unit, and forgid them to do so. One woman got so outraged at seeing her stuff being sold, she went into a full scale rant, demanding to know "How can you sell people's lives???" - made threats so much so that the police were called & a fight ensued in the parking lot. The way one auctioneer explained it, was that if they are behind in their storage unit rent (usually 3 months before it's sold, or used to be), then the units are auctioned off (auctioneers would buy many or all units in one fell swoop to sell in his auction house - and he claimed that it was a law that they can''t bid on their own stuff until past rent is paid in full. I tend to doubt that's the law - more likely the auctioneers' own policy.

At any rate, it's sad to see people's lives sold off in box lots - to hear the jokes about some items or their condition (often raunchy, mean jokes). Usually personal paperwork has been removed before it's auctioned off - or supposed to be, but I've seen personal mail & paperwork in box lots that sold. My friend recognised the names on paperwork in a box lot, as those of an old acquaintance, and bid & won a couple of box lots with photos & paperwork in them, to be able to return them to the original owner. I thought that was a really nice thing to do, and I'd do the same if I recognised who the lot belonged to. It's more degrading & upsetting to have your life sold off this way, but it happens all the time with estate auctions - I've seen creepy people digging through boxes of paperwork & mail, pulling letters out of envelopes, etc.

I would think that the storage unit facility would rather have the rent money than the contents, but I guess that depends on the value of the contents. As to the auction, if the auction is open to the public and anyone were forbidden to bid on the items, wouldn't that be a matter for the civil court?

I can't attend most estate auctions these days - too sad for me, especially when a foreclosure or eviction is involved.

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

I haven't been to an estate auction in a couple of years - the ones I've been to, seemed to be those of an old person who died, or a couple who got divorced. I also would tend to think they'd rather have the rent money rather than to go to the hassle of auctioning it off. But many times, the auctioneer buys out the storage units in one fell swoop, so to speak - and breaks it down into lots back at the auction house. The storage unit got paid, they're done with it. Other times, the storage unit co.has an auctioneer come in & do the auction right at the storage units. I dont think they let you look through anything at all (and many auctioneers wont let you 'dig' through box lots or sometimes, even peek before the auction starts) before the bidding starts. Auctioneers are crafty about making worthless boxes of junk look inviting, and maybe worth something. Like was said earlier, they'll plant a couple half way decent things on top with junk underneath. There was one time the auctioneer is poking through a box & excitedly telling the people "People! LOOK what's in here! Marbles! Jewelry! (etc.). as he reaches way down inside & pulls out a marble or two - leading people to hope that maybe there are a lot of loose marbles at the bottom of the box. I bought that box & concluded the auctioneer had 'planted' a couple of marbles (how else could he have found them by just reaching his hand in if he didnt know where in the box to reach?). No other marbles than what he'd pulled, the rest was junk. Those are times the auctioneer makes good money.

Other times, you buy a box lot for cheap - you know it's nothing great, but you bid $5. to just keep things moving to get to the next box that may be more promising - and discover that the auctioneer didnt go through everything before the auction, and you actually find something very good. One guy I know found a great old, tiny, rare, Art Deco piece that he sold for $350.

I dont know what the policy is for losing storage units to auctioneers for non-payment of rent. I thought it was 3 months of non-payment before it got sold, not sure though. When American Airlines transferred my sister from Arizona to Texas, they put her stuff in a storage unit because the transfer was such short notice. It's been over 4 years, she's crazy behind in rent & she's still making payments - not sure why it hasn't been auctioned off by now, unless it's because the airline put it there.

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