How to Buy Stuff from Abandoned Self Storage Units


Interest in the property of abandoned self-storage units has risen thanks to the popular series “Storage Wars” on the A&E network. Typically, property in storage units for which an owner has not made payment for at least 60 days is auctioned off to the highest bidder. The whole process is something of a gamble, because storage unit landlords do not usually let bidders see more than a fleeting glimpse of the property in an abandoned unit. If you have a sense of adventure, you can participate in one of these auctions and hope that your winning bed earns some type of treasure.

Find an auction. Most self-storage operators run abandoned property auctions and will advertise locally to draw buyers. Check the website of your local self-storage sites, your local newspaper, or community event websites or offices to find local property auctions.

Arrive early and sign in. As with any type of auction, you must have identification to participate. Upon confirmation of your identity, you should receive a paddle number and an explanation of the terms and process of the auction.

Bring cash. Most abandoned self-storage auctions require cash payments for goods received.

Carry a flashlight. Unlike other types of auctions, at an abandoned self-storage unit auction you may not have the opportunity to do a thorough search of the contents on which you are bidding. In many instances, you can only take a quick glance at the contents while standing at the door of the unit. A flashlight may enable you to see the contents of the storage unit better.

Bid. Once the auction starts, you are in control of whether or not you will win the auction. If price is no object, you can continue to bid until you are the last bidder, regardless of price. However, in an auction setting it is generally a good idea to determine a maximum price you are willing to spend before you begin bidding, and to observe that limit even in the frenzy of the auction process.

Make arrangements for delivery. If you win the contents of the storage unit at auction, you are expected to take delivery within a reasonable amount of time as determined by the owners of the storage facility. You may also have to sweep the unit clean after you take delivery of the unit’s contents.

Tips & Warnings

  • The storage units have to be auctioned off when the owner abandoned the property because they can no longer pay for the storage unit and in some cases because the owner may have passed away.
  • The storage company will not let you go through the items and take only what you want. They will not let you use their dumpsters either, so you will be taking everything, trash and all.
  • If you come across anything that is hazardous, such as chemicals, report this to the storage facility and let them handle that.

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