Clinton "Ton" Jones and Allen Haff of Spike TV's Auction Hunters

The A&E television series “Storage Wars” and the SpikeTV series “Auction Hunters” have helped bring light to the world of storage auctions. They depict the plight of people who, for various reasons, haven’t been able to keep up with the monthly payment for their storage unit rentals, and have had their abandoned belongings auctioned off. If you rent self-storage and find yourself in this predicament, what are your options and how long do you have before your stuff is put up for storage auction?

Well, that all depends. Each state has different laws on the books with respect to just how long a storage company has before they’re legally able to evict your possessions, and recoup some of the back rent owed by holding an auction. These are the generally accepted rules:

  • Your storage company is legally required to send you a certain number of certified letters letting you know your past due status and what you have to do in order to prevent from losing your belongings. Again, this number varies by state.
  • If no response or payment is received from you, your storage company then places an ad in the classifieds section of the local newspaper, advertising the upcoming storage auction. The length of time these ads have to run is also defined by law, and is different from state to state.

Your Recourse

If you rent self-storage and are in danger of having your belongings sold at storage auctions, you have until the start of the auction to show up and pay the money that’s back-owed. Then the storage facility is required to call off the auction.

Photo courtesy of

Tony Emerson