Is it worthwhile to bid on the unclaimed contents of a storage unit? These auctions (also known as a statutory lien sale) happen fairly frequently, but this doesn't mean they're necessarily worth your time and money. However, there are ways to ensure that bidding on the unclaimed contents of a storage unit can be worth the effort.
The Contents of the Unit
The first thing to consider is that you should never bid on an unopened storage unit. Storage auctions like this aren't especially common, but they do happen. While any bidders will be hoping for a priceless work of art or a rare collectible, they might in fact be purchasing a pile of mildewed clothing and rat droppings. Only bid at a storage auction when the contents of the unit have been inventoried.
This inventory may not always be exhaustive, and storage facility management may not have cataloged the contents of each container that may have been placed inside the unit. You might inadvertently purchase a prohibited item, such as firearms or narcotics. Although unlikely, you should be aware of your own potential liabilities. Be sure that an itemized bill of sale is issued, allowing you to prove chain of ownership (as in, these items only came into your possession as the result of the auction). You can then contact authorities to surrender the items in question if needed.
Removing the Items
Once you take ownership of the items inside the storage unit, the sale is not necessarily finalized. It will generally be a condition of the auction that you agree to remove the contents of the unit by a set time after the auction. Are you actually able to do this? You will need to invest the necessary time to remove the items while having suitable transportation (which might need to be pre-arranged if you need to rent a vehicle). Failure to remove the contents of the unit by the specified time can void the sale, while also potentially exposing you to penalties.
The Storage Unit Itself
You should also enquire about the storage unit itself. Some facilities may require a deposit that is retained until the unit has been emptied and cleaned. Since you did not lease the unit, its cleaning might not seem like it should be your responsibility, but the facility may have its own procedures in place. While it's a condition of sale that the unit must be emptied, you should enquire about whether cleaning the unit is also a condition of sale.
As long as you manage your expectations, bidding on the unclaimed contents of a storage unit can yield some interesting rewards. Talk to a storage facility for more details.