26 May Louisiana Self Storage Association Is Successful in 2016 Legislative Session
By Alex Hassel, Storage.com
The Louisiana Self Storage Association (SSALA) is celebrating after two bills successfully moved through the Louisiana State Legislature. With help from the Self Storage Association (SSA), the SSALA amended its lien law (SB 128) and passed an insurance law (HB 798).
Lonnie Bickford, Government Relations Representative and SSALA board member, says the lien law hadn’t been updated since it was passed in 1981. “Everyone realized how much the world has changed,” he says.
The amendment tackled several issues at once. Now, self storage operators in Louisiana no longer have to send lien notifications by certified mail, but rather can use verified mail. Storage owners can also now tow a vehicle involved in a default rather than foreclose on the lien. The law also establishes a new timeline for the steps involved in the lien process.
“We cleaned up the timeline and how many days after ‘this that you do that,’” says Bickford. “It’s an issue local to Louisiana. The original bill wasn’t clear. We’d get calls nonstop about ‘What am I supposed to do?’”
The new law also establishes value limitations for renters. “This helps owners avoid any future lawsuit issues,” Bickford explains. “If a renter has $20,000 worth of antiques in a unit, and the contract says they can’t have more than $5,000 worth, the storage owner can’t be liable for claims that are more than what the contract says.”
With the amendment, storage operators can now legally hold auctions online as well.
It only took one year of lobbying for the SSALA to change the lien law. Bickford credits the association’s ability to organize to make so much happen in just one legislative session.
“We had a great lobbyist team,” he says. “You should know that Katherine Mosely Smith, our lobbyist, she was a difference maker. She should get tremendous credit. She worked with committee chairs in both the Senate and the House. We also want to thank Senator Danny Martiny, the sponsor.”
The SSALA’s efforts in the 2016 session didn’t stop with just the lien law amendment. Like other self storage associations, the SSALA has also been pushing for a self storage tenant insurance law. That corresponding bill, HB 798, passed in both the House and the Senate, and Governor John Bel Edwards is expected to sign it into law.
“I feel very pleased we got all of this done on our first try,” Bickford says. “We’re not running on a huge budget, so we’re very pleased this won’t be an ongoing thing. Hopefully, we’ll be off everyone’s radar for the next 20 years.”
Bickford continues, “As an owner myself and as a board member for the last 15 years, I’m hoping Louisiana storage owners will see value in associations after all of this and will join and give us strength in numbers. We had enough to help this year, but it always helps to have more.”