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Legal & Personal Documents Found Inside A Storage Auction Unit

October 14, 2015
Personal and legal documents usually stored in home safes or safety deposit boxes at a bank. A frugal option to use a self-storage facility.

Downside for any rental, tenant must keep monthly payments in a timely fashion.

When a storage unit goes into default due to non-payment, the contents sold at auction. That includes everything inside, whether treasure or trash, collectibles or cash. Winner of locker has 24-48 hour to clear out every box and sweep the debris.

As the dust settles, personal possessions discovered. Important documents that were not stored safely inside a home vault or safety deposit box.

What do you do if you find personal and legal documents inside a storage unit?

What a conundrum for the storage buyer.

Exactly, what classifies documents as personal or legal?

Passport, social secuirty card, birth certificate found inside a storage auction unit.

Legal Documents:

•    Adoption Papers
•    Alien Registration Receipt Card
•    Bankruptcy Papers
•    Birth Certificate
•    Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
•    Corporate Papers
•    Credit Cards
•    Death Certificate
•    Deeds
•    Divorce or Separation Papers
•    Driver’s License
•    Employment Authorization Document
•    Government ID Card
•    Government or State Health Insurance Cards
•    Insurance Contracts - Life, Health, Home, Auto
•    Lease Papers
•    Life Insurance Policy
•    Loan Documents
•    Marriage Certificate & License
•    Native American Tribal Document
•    Passports
•    Permanent Resident Card
•    School ID Card
•    Social Security Card
•    State Identification Card
•    Stock Certificates
•    Tax Papers
•    U.S. Certificate of Naturalization
•    U.S. Military Card or Draft Record
•    U.S. Military Discharge Papers
•    Vehicle Titles
•    Voter’s registration Card
•    Wills, Living Trust, Living Will

Personal documents found in a storage auction unit.

Personal Items:

•    Bills
•    Checkbooks
•    Financial Statements
•    High School or College Diplomas
•    Personal Letters
•    Photographs
•    Scrapbooks
•    School Record or Report Card
•    School Year Books
•    Clinic, Doctor or Hospital Record
•    Day-Care or Nursery School Record
•    Membership Papers

If a storage buyer finds military uniforms or military papers, best to contact the local armed forces. While lien laws protect the military while on duty, the manager or owner of the facility may or may not adhere to such laws. Best to be on the side of caution.

Storage buyer bears no legal obligation to return any documents to the previous tenant. Neither does the storage facility or property owner. Each lien law of each state dictates this as fact.

What about the moral obligation?

First, consider the possible scenarios as to why a tenant defaulted on a storage unit. Loss of employment. Loss of life. Loss of civil rights due to criminal activity. Moved. Disabled. Accident. Hospitalization.

Also possible that a spouse/mate rented a storage unit without informing their spouse/mate. Divorce or separation, then leads to the default.

Or even the simplest answer – the renter forgot about the lease over time. Believe it or not, it happens.

Does wisdom dictate to personally contact the previous tenant who lost their possessions at a storage auction?

If a storage hunter is successful in locating the individual, one of two things may happen; appreciation or resentment by the defaulted renter. While the first pleasant; the second scenario could prompt a disastrous situation.

The best solution to place all the personal and legal documents found inside a storage auction unit in an envelope or box. Return the documents to the manager of the self storage facility. Allow this third party to reach out to the previous tenant.

If, however the manager is unwilling, since they are not obligated by law, a storage buyer could try social media platforms. Reach out to the tenant or family or friends through city groups.

Give only pertinent information online about the previous owner. If contacted, verify the relationship to the previous owner before any exchange of documents takes place.

While passports and licenses are replaceable, other items are not, such as photographs or personal letters. It’s heartbreaking to sort through these items and to toss them away. That is however part of the trade of the business of storage buyers.

Find valuable treasure as well as personal treasure that holds no monetary value.

Self-storage facilities are affordable for storage of valuables. It is, however the responsibility of the renter to keep payments to ensure they retain their possessions.

If they do not and a storage auction takes place; then the documents can be considered lost, by law.


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