Can you live in a self storage unit?

It’s a thought that crosses the minds of many people who visit a self storage facility – “I wonder if you could live in one of these things”. While most people laugh the idea off after imagining the massive inconvenience, some people have turned it into a reality.

All across the world there have been instances where storage facility staff have been tipped off or stumbled across people living in their storage unit. For example, a man in the US managed to live in a storage unit for two months before being evicted, documenting his intricate setup on his YouTube channel. 

While it may make for interesting viewing, it’s definitely not something we’d recommend at Flexible Storage Solutions. Not only is living in a storage unit illegal, it clearly compromises the security of the storage facility, as well as presents serious health and safety risks.

Can you sleep in a storage unit?

Of course, you CAN sleep in a storage unit but it doesn’t mean you should start living in one.

Many people spend a lot of time in their storage units; running businesses, organising their belongings, working on their artwork, and countless other reasons. While we’re not saying you can’t have a well-earned rest after a hard day’s work, we (and the law) draw the line at actually living in your unit, i.e. staying in your unit overnight is not allowed.

Some people may argue that because they’re renting the unit, surely they can do what they please with the space? Unfortunately, that’s not how storage facilities or the law works. Your rental contract will specify what you can and cannot use your storage unit for, including what items are forbidden, plus that most important of caveats – NO SLEEPING OR LIVING IN YOUR STORAGE UNIT.

The bottom line is that the storage facility is liable for any injuries or damage that may occur on its premises. A person living in a storage unit therefore puts the storage company at risk of legal action, not to mention the person at risk of injury or worse.      

So, let’s take a closer look at the legal side of it…

Is living in a storage unit legal in the UK?

The simple answer is no – it is illegal to live in a storage unit in the UK. The Fitness for Human Habitation Act 2018 is just the latest in a long line of UK laws that specify the legal requirements a building must have in order for it to be inhabitable by humans.

These requirements relate to many aspects of a building, such as its structure and integrity, pests and vermin, and damp and mould growth. When it comes to living in a storage unit, the most relevant aspects of these laws pertain to:

  •     Natural light availability
  •     Ventilation
  •     Hot and cold water supply
  •     Drainage and sanitary facilities

While some storage units may have ventilation systems, the vast majority of units will not meet any of the other legal requirements in order to qualify for human habitation. 

In most cases, a storage unit will be a single room or container and will most probably have an adequate electrical supply. No windows, no water supply, no toilets, no heating. In other words, not fit for a person to live in.

How storage facilities can prevent people living in their storage units

While we understand that some people may think about moving into a storage facility out of desperation, as we’ve explained above, it really isn’t a safe or suitable place for a person to live.

There are several things that a storage facility can do to both deter people from living in a unit as well as offering help at the same time:

  •     Make it clear in your rental contract – it should be crystal clear in your agreement that living in storage facilities is strictly forbidden. Emphasise the consequences if this stipulation is not adhered to and get the renter to initial the caveat so that they are fully aware of the expectation.
  •     Use CCTV to keep a watchful eye on your facility – camera surveillance should be used to monitor the entirety of your facility 24/7. Only having cameras monitoring the perimeter of your premises will leave you blind to what’s going on inside.
  •     Conduct regular premises checks – having staff perform regular checks on all storage areas may help pick up on smaller things that a security camera can’t, such as suspicious wiring running out of a unit. Training should be provided so all staff know what to look out for.
  •     Keep leaflets for local shelters/homeless charities in the office – helpful literature such as this may be able to point someone considering moving into their storage in the right direction. Just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean businesses should be insensitive to the unfortunate circumstances of some of its customers.

So, there you have it – now you know the reasons why you can’t live in a storage unit and the precautions that storage facilities can take to prevent it.

At Flexible Storage, we take the safety and security of our facility – and all belongings and people within it – incredibly seriously. With secure water and fireproof steel storage units, 24/7 CCTV surveillance and highly trained staff, you can rest assured that your storage items are in the safest possible hands.

Get in touch with the Flexible Storage team today to learn more about our professional storage facility, or even discuss what tailored storage services will work best for you. 

How to Prevent Mould and Mildew in a Storage Unit

We’ve all been there – opening up a box that’s long been stored under the stairs or in the loft, eagerly hoping to retrieve that vintage jacket or family photo album, only to find it ruined by mould or mildew.

As well as damaging valuable belongings and causing horrible smells, both mould and mildew can damage your health too.

It’s for these reasons that you need to ensure your storage unit is as mould and mildew proof as possible. This post will provide expert storage tips and outline the necessary precautions you should take to keep your belongings safe during long-term storage.  

What exactly are mould and mildew? 

Mould and mildew are both types of fungi that thrive in warm, moist and humid environments. Whilst most commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms, they can and will grow anywhere that is warm and has moisture, including on fabrics, wood, stone and even plastic.

Whilst sharing many similar properties, mould and mildew do have some notable differences:

  •     Mould – a fungus that can be various colours, including brown, blue, green and yellow, but is most typically black. Mould also generally has a furry or slimy texture, and is a bigger threat to human health than mildew.
  •     Mildew – a fungus that is typically grey or white in colour. It generally grows in flat patches, has a powdery texture and a notable musty smell.

Whether it’s mould or mildew, you’ll want to make sure you protect your storage items from all potentially dangers. Let’s start with your storage unit… 

Storage unit considerations 

  •     Airflow – when it comes to preventing mould and mildew in your storage unit, moisture is the enemy. These fungi thrive in moist environments so maintaining proper airflow is crucial in a storage unit. Avoid pushing boxes and larger items against each other and the unit’s walls. Keeping space between items helps air circulate and keeps the storage unit dry. 
  •     Off the floor – this is especially the case if your storage unit has a concrete floor, as concrete is porous and can draw up moisture from the ground. While this is much less of a problem if your storage unit is a metal container (as with Flexible Storage self storage units), it is still advisable to use shelves and cabinets in your unit, as well as covering the floor with wooden pallets. This will keep your stuff off the floor and the air circulating effectively.
  •     Humidity levels – while this may not be as big a consideration in the UK as it is in warmer climates, it’s important to ensure that the humidity level inside your storage unit does not exceed 50%. Keeping a hygrometer in your storage unit and regularly checking it will help you gauge whether you need to take action on warm days, such as using a dehumidifier. 
  •     Regularly check your unit – you should never leave your storage items for long periods of time. Make it a habit to check up on your storage unit at least once a month, assessing your belongings for any early signs of mould or mildew. Even just opening up your storage unit and moving some items around will allow air to flow and help you better inspect your possessions. 

Now that you know the things to look out for regarding your storage unit, here are some professional packing tips to protect your belongings from mould and mildew…

Packing considerations

  •     Proper storage materials – unfortunately, if you want to ensure your items are as safe as possible, plastic bin bags or old delivery boxes just aren’t going to cut it. The only way to guarantee the maximum amount of protection is to use purpose-built storage materials such as robust cardboard boxes, industrial bubble wrap and hardy furniture covers.  
  •     Dry items thoroughly – it’s imperative that every item you put into storage is 100% dry. Just one small damp item could spell disaster for your entire storage unit, as mould and mildew will quickly contaminate other items. Clothing and upholstery are particularly at risk as they can easily retain moisture. Be vigilant when cleaning your belongings before putting them into long-term storage, and give them plenty of time to dry.
  •     Pack desiccators – one of the best ways to minimise the levels of moisture in your storage unit is to utilise moisture-absorbing agents called desiccators. The most commonly used desiccators are silica gel packets, but can also include salt, rice and even cat litter. Desiccators should be packed alongside the contents of boxes and cabinets, as well as placed freely in an open container inside the storage unit.     
  •     Avoid plastic covers – many people make the mistake of covering storage items in plastic covers. While they may be useful to protect clothes in your wardrobe from dust, they tend to trap moisture, which is terrible for long-term storage. Cardboard or paper covers are much more preferable as they allow air to circulate, helping your storage items breathe.

Choose your storage unit with care

So there you have it – top tips on how to prevent mould and mildew in a storage unit. Where you store your belongings is just as important as how you pack them. It’s crucial that you choose a storage facility that has your best interests at heart.

At Flexible Storage, we always put the safety of our customer’s belongings first. Our fire and waterproof steel self storage units will keep your possessions safe, while our professional packing materials can help keep them in the best possible condition. With 24-7 CCTV surveillance and 365 day customer access, all eyes will be on your stored items to provide the maximum level of protection.

For more advice on how to pack a storage unit, get in touch with our friendly team today. One of our professional storage consultants can talk you through your self storage options and even provide you with a tailored quote.