Rats in my storage unit! Can I sue the company?

Ensuring that your off-site storage needs aren't affected by pests.

Question

Last week, I was in my storage unit moving in some boxes, and saw two rats. I’m worried that there’s some sort of infestation, and that the rats might nibble their way into my boxes. I have clothes and valuables in there, which could be ruined. Can I sue my storage facility company?

Answer

You’re paying a great deal of money to store your personal effects, and the last thing you’d want to see is rats, bugs, or other pests sneaking their way into your storage unit. What should you do if you find evidence of such creatures?

First, before you go running to the company, make sure that you yourself did not attract the rats, for example by storing food or sweets in your unit. Most likely, your rental agreement has a term that would prohibit you from keeping any such items in the facility.

Next, you should immediately contact your storage facility company. The company might not be aware of the rodent problem, and should quickly call an exterminator to mitigate the infestation and damage.

Most likely, the fine print of your rental agreement will indicate that the facility is not liable for any damage to your property beyond the company’s control – for example, damage done by a fire or an earthquake. But you would have a strong argument that an infestation of rodents is within their control, and that the facility was negligent by failing to set rodent traps or conduct routine inspections.

Any decent business would offer to evaluate any damage to your belongings. If there is actual physical damage, they should pay. Even absent any proof of physical damage, it should give you some sort of rent refund.

If it does not make that offer, you would certainly be within your rights to write a letter – or have an attorney write a letter – asking for it. Remember, storage facilities are in competition for business and surely fear bad word of mouth. They do not want to have a customer like yourself spreading the word that their facility is infested. You could easily threaten to move your belongings to another facility and encourage your friends to do the same.

Rent abatement for the month when you saw the rodents would be a reasonable amount of compensation. Therefore, it is in the company’s best interest to address the situation and attempt to make you whole – especially if it could do this with just a few hundred dollars.

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
FEATURED LISTINGS FROM NOLO
Swipe to view more
NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP ?

Talk to a Real Estate attorney.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you