Dear Consumer Ed:

I was unable to make my last three payments on my storage unit. I found out that there is a notice in the paper to auction off my belongings. How can I stop this?

Consumer Ed says:

If the rent has not been paid, the owner may be allowed to sell the contents of your storage unit. However, before your belongings can be sold, he must take certain steps.  First, he can only sell your property to recoup back rent if you are more than thirty days behind on your payments.  Next, you must be notified, in writing, of his intent to sell your belongings.  The owner must deliver this notice to you in person, or send it by certified or overnight mail.

The notice must allow you more time to make the payment in full; at a minimum, the owner has to give you an additional fourteen days to pay.  It must also tell you that if payment is not received, your belongings will be advertised for public sale.

After the fourteen days has expired, the owner must then advertise the sale in a local newspaper, once a week, for two straight weeks. If you pay the back-rent in full before the date of sale advertised in the newspaper, the owner does not have the right to sell your belongings, and you may collect them.

If the owner has not complied with all of these steps, he may not legally sell your belongings.  Note also that these steps must be described, in detail, in your storage unit rental agreement, so you should read this agreement.

If you think the owner is in the wrong, you should contact an attorney immediately to remedy the situation.

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