09 Jun UK Self Storage Industry Fights Illegal Activity with Tick Box

By Alex Hassel, Storage.com

It can happen wherever there’s self storage. An operator opens a facility to help people through difficult transitions or free up space in their homes, but there are those who take advantage of what they can keep behind closed doors at a facility.

If it hasn’t happened to your facility, you’ve probably heard stories about tenants storing illegal items or hiding counterfeit operations in their unit. The Herald out of Sharon, Pa., for example, recently reported that police in Hermitage, Pa., arrested a couple who used stolen identities to buy 20 gallons of paint and nearly 30,000 t-shirts, which they kept in two self storage units in the area.

Across the pond, the Self Storage Association UK (SSA UK) is working on a new initiative with law enforcement agencies to prevent that kind of activity from happening. The program is called Tick Box. It lays out a standard of practices for the self storage industry to ensure proper storage is taking place.

In Tick Box’s code of practice, self storage facilities commit to:

  • Prohibiting the storage of illegal goods, which includes counterfeit goods and non-duty paid alcohol and tobacco.
  • Being aware of who is storing goods at a premises through photo identification and proof of address documentation.
  • Providing reasonable assistance to the local trading standards service in investigations relating to the storage of counterfeit goods and other unlawful activity.
  • Ensuring a commitment to fair trading and making the public aware of the commitment through the prominent display of the code of practice in a location visible to members of the public.
  • Ensuring that all staff employed at a self storage facility are aware of the code of practice and its requirements.
  • Ensuring that all customers, on completion of their rental application form, are made aware of the code of practice.

As part of the code of practice, local authority trading standards services can also assist with the following:

  • When appropriate, provide information that may assist the self storage industry and/or individual companies in their endeavors to identify counterfeit items and/or individuals involved in counterfeiting crime.
  • Provide advice to self storage companies on their legal responsibilities in relation to copyright and trademark infringement activities within their premises.

Once the Tick Box code of practice has been confirmed between a storage facility and the local trading standards department, that company can display the code on the property, along with Tick Box posters and logos. Those behind the campaign say this will send a strong message to would-be criminals and provide quality assurance to anyone storing at a facility.

Storage operators in the U.K. seem to be on board. In a recent article from The Learning Observer out of Warwickshire, Philip Leech, Director of Montague Storage Limited in Warwick, told the publication, “We were delighted to be approached to become a Tick Box member, and following a simple audit we can now display the Tick Box logo. This scheme, which is entirely free, has enabled us to demonstrate to our customers that we are a genuine, trusted, and responsible business in this industry.”

John Horner, the Warwickshire County Council safety spokesman, added, “We anticipate that the Tick Box scheme will discourage counterfeiters and others from using these facilities and so disrupt the trade in illegal goods.”

When it comes to illegal storage activity here in the U.S., there aren’t any guidelines or initiatives set in the industry to prevent these types of problems; however, self storage professionals we spoke with off the record say it’s rarely an issue compared to defaulting renters.

At this point, beyond the standard personal information on a lease and a copied driver’s license, any additional details required to rent a unit are up to individual storage business owners. Without a standard in the U.S., and from a competitive standpoint, if a storage facility started requiring more information from renters, it’s likely that many of those renters could take their business to the next facility that didn’t.

Alex Hassel is News Reporter for Storage.com. If you’d like to pitch Alex a self storage industry news story, email [email protected] or call 402-779-7328.

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