It’s typically illegal to store firearms in a storage unit. Not only are there potential liability issues (not everyone is diligent about gun safety), but it creates all kinds of problems if your storage space goes up for auction. Storage companies have to wrestle with involving the police and worry about potentially selling weapons to convicted felons. It’s a no-win for the storage facility.
Storage units often disallow perishable items like meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, and raw fruits and vegetables. Sometimes they also prohibit containers that once held food. If your belongings would attract mold, mildew, or unwanted pests, you probably can’t put them in a self-storage unit.
Some self-storage companies have rules against fur. While it’s a less-common no-no, you should check with your self-storage facility to be sure. Some companies say fur clothing isn’t allowed, while others ask you to keep your comfy status symbols in a climate-controlled storage unit (fur is more likely to molt at high temperatures).
Self-storage companies prohibit just about every dangerous substance you can think of. Check your storage unit rules to be sure, but chances are you can’t put any of these items in a storage unit:
- Compressed gas
- Propane tanks
Storage unit rules don’t allow you to put living things in your storage space. Whether it’s a tiny plant or a real-life zombie, if it’s alive—or used to be—it’s not allowed. You can safely assume that it’s illegal to store any of these items in a storage unit:
- Ashes (human or animal)
- Dead organisms
Many self-storage companies don’t permit you to keep money in your storage unit. It’s enough to crush the spirit of Walter White, meth kingpin from Breaking Bad. TV criminals love hiding cash in storage units, but it’s not a realistic option for the rest of us.
A storage unit seems like an ideal place for old school assignments and high school yearbooks, but not all self-storage facilities allow items that would pain you to lose. It may have to do with how unlikely items are to sell at an auction (and how upset you’d be to lose precious mementos)—or how difficult it is to assess an insurance value to things you consider priceless.
At the same time, some storage companies take the opposite approach and encourage you to store these valuables. It can be confusing, but there’s a simple way to track down answers.
We recommend contacting your local storage unit company if you want to store any of these items:
- Awards and trophies
- Baby clothes
- Baby toys
- Baseball cards (and other sports cards)
- Family heirlooms
- Legal documents
- Medical bills
- Photo albums
- School assignments
- Wedding dresses
Additionally, look for a storage unit company with strong security. We recommend finding a clean facility with a gated exterior, interior lighting, individually-alarmed units, video surveillance, and a web page devoted to security features.
You can’t keep stolen property in a storage unit. Period. Whether you’re a small-time thief who made off with your neighbor’s garden hose or the Ocean’s Eleven type with a casino vault, storage units aren’t your friends. We recommend you give the stuff back. You know, karma.
Tires are so commonly prohibited that they get a category of their own. You can occasionally find a storage company that allows tires, but most places disallow them for two reasons:
- Disposal fees. Most states require a tire disposal fee (it’s not cheap). If the storage facility sells your stuff in a storage unit auction because you can’t pay rent, the costs add up. Blacklisting tires is a way to nip the problem in the bud.
- Fires. Tire fires are tough to put out—and they’re terrible for the environment. It’s not worth the risk for companies to allow them in storage units.