You may have noticed a new phrase on the front of the Self Storage Association of Australasia’s (SSAA’s) Agreements; it reads as follows;
You must also not store goods that are irreplaceable, and/or currency, jewellery, furs, deeds, paintings, curios, works of art and items of personal sentimental value.
While many members have commented on this ‘new’ phrase, it’s actually not new at all. In fact, versions of it have been around since the SSAA’s first Agreements, almost 18 years ago. What’s ‘new’ is that it’s been moved from the ‘fine print’, to the Main Points section on the front page. This move was made on recommendation of the SSAA’s external lawyers King & Wood Mallesons, who reviewed the SSAA’s Agreements last year for compliance with the new Australian Consumer Laws.
The SSAA states that “the clause is an attempt to limit the Facility’s liability for priceless items, or items that would not otherwise be covered by an insurance policy unless separately listed. This reflects the position Storers would find themselves in should the items be stored in their own home – items such as jewellery and paintings are not generally covered by home and contents insurance unless specifically listed, and usually with an increased policy cost.”.
Lawyers from King & Wood Mallesons felt that, as there may be a misunderstanding about the responsibility of goods whilst in storage (and indeed an expectation that anything includes priceless items could be stored), they would not be able to rely on the clause if it was ‘buried’ away in the fine print. For these reasons, the clause in question was moved to the front.
…but isn’t storage commonly used for personal items?
While the SSAA recognises that this may seem counter intuitive (one of the big motivating factors wen people want to store, is to ‘protect’ or ‘keep’ personal items), they feel that the clause and its inclusion on the front of the Agreement is an opportunity to discuss insurance & assignment of liability and responsibility with Storers.
The benefits of Association assistance
Of course, one of the great reasons for joining your industry association (such as the SSAA or SSAUK) is that you get the benefits of the many, many years of experience of their members. They know the industry inside-out and, thanks to their large member-base, have probably come across virtually every scenario that your customers are likely to throw at you… so it really is worth joining your local Self Storage Association if you haven’t already done so.
For a relatively inexpensive annual fee, you get access to their wealth of resources, marketing materials, legal agreements (between your Facility and its customers), statistical reports, surveys and much more. The large member-base also means that the SSAA can push suppliers for better deals, make members aware of self storage scams (they do happen!), distribute police reports & information-requests (where self storage is involved – which helps both you and others in the industry) & even lobby councils or government groups for changes to building, safety, parking or other regulations. Free access to Storercheck, a database of abusive or bad-paying Storers, is also provided to SSAA members.
Remember – the legal fees involved in having lawyers write your own self storage agreements will likely entail many thousands of dollars – much more than an association joining fee – and then, are your lawyers of choice practised in the potential quirks of self storage? If you’re not yet a member, perhaps it’s time to join… but if you need further convincing, I welcome you to read my other blog post on the topic.
– Andy (Customer Experience & Marketing Manager, StorMan Software)