Governor Deval Patrick signed into law legislation, sponsored by Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury), to improve consumer protections while reducing the cost of doing business for self-storage operators.

Senator Moore testified to the US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy on Tuesday, April 29.

Senator Moore

“While there are some large operators in the self-storage industry, it is an industry mainly made up of small, family owned businesses. This legislation, while recognizing the value of improved technologically, also protects consumers from unscrupulous self-storage businesses,” stated Senator Moore. “It is in the best interest of these businesses to maintain long term relationships with their customers. This legislation helps achieve that goal to the benefit of consumers and small businesses alike.”

Under the legislation, consumers will be able to receive notices about overdue rent and other notices through electronic mail. The legislation follows the national trend, which has seen states allow for notice by electronic mail if the customer affirmatively agrees to receive electronic notification. As well, the legislation provides for a limit on late fees charged and creates a process by which self-storage operators must confirm property is in fact abandoned. The legislation would also require rental agreements to include a clear and concise statement of the value of the property included in the storage unit. By declaring the value of the property at the outset of the business relationship, all parties benefit.

“We want to thank Senator Moore for his leadership on this issue. This legislation will not only reduce costs for our customers, but increase the consumer protections that reflect best management practices in the operation of self-storage facilities,” stated Steve Tranni, President of the Massachusetts Self Storage Association. “With customers and businesses already benefiting from similar laws in other states, it’s great to see this legislation signed into law.”

According to the national Self Storage Association (SSA), the self-storage industry has been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the United States commercial real estate industry over the period of the last 38 years. There are now over 48,500 self-storage facilities in the United States as of year-end 2013. In Massachusetts, there are approximately 700 self-storage facilities. Self-storage facilities pay a total of more than $3.25 billion in property taxes to local and state governments throughout the United States.