If you're never considered using these virtual auction services, now might be the time to do so. We will be crediting every member's account with a free month and we deeply apologize for the down time. July 8th, 2012 - Over the past few years, a handful of companies which hold storage auctions online have emerged on the scene. This legal dilemma boils down to whether or not a storage auction can be conducted online or whether it must be held at a physical location. We spoke to a Texas auctioneer and former President of the Texas Auctioneer's Association, about this matter. We contacted the Texas Self Storage Association about this matter and received the following response: Connie Niemann Heyer, attorney for the Texas Self Storage Association, stated that she does not consider auctions that take place online only are meeting the strict letter of the law requiring that the sale take place at or near the storage facility. We contacted Sealed Online Bids to find out how they are conducting online storage auctions for storage facilities in Texas. To be even more specific: our auctions are live and open for bidding for a period of 7 to 10 days, typically. I agree, a lot of state's storage lien laws are outdated; however, Texas revised it's storage lien laws in January, 2012. Regardless of how archaic some of these laws may be, if you use common sense to interpret (A sale under this sub-chapter must be a public sale at the self-service storage facility or a reasonably near public place) it'sobvious that this law was meant to be quite literal.
Whenever there is a gray area, there will be lawsuits; however, companies who hold storage auctions online are protected through lengthy disclaimers that the storage facility and buyer must agree to before using their service.
There is no argument as to whether virtual storage auctions would be beneficial to both the storage facility and the storage auction buyer.
We truly hope that Chapter 59 is amended in the future to allow storage facility owners the option of having their storage auctions online. When there is some doubt in the interpretation of a law, the courts in most states consider the intent of the legislature. If you've been in the storage auction and resale business for long, you've probably heard about online storage auctions, at least in passing. Online self storage auctions take place when a unit is photographed and placed on a site where bidders can view the unit and make bids. Not every site works that way, however, and you can save money by using a site with no overhead cost.
With more self-storage operators expressing interest in online auctions, The Storage Facilitator decided to examine their advantages, disadvantages and legal implications. All else being equal, online auctions are more lucrative than traditional, in-person auctions.
The online format lets buyers bid on several units at the same time from home, work or pretty much anywhere you can get an Internet connection.
Another advantage of the online auction format is that it actually prevents items from being sold at auction.
When sending a lien sale notice by email, the facility owner adds a link to the online auction; then, with the click of a button, the delinquent tenant sees his or her items up for auction, watches the clocking ticking down, and is more motivated to come up with the money.
About five years ago, veteran self-storage auctioneer Wayne Blair ran a few online auctions. Still, the legality is open to interpretation in many states. “The states will need to address this issue,” Blair said. Until a disgruntled tenant files a wrongful foreclosure lawsuit against a self-storage facility after an online auction, state courts probably won’t be forced to weigh in.
That being said, Kaslow doesn’t expect to see much pushback from state legislators in the future. With help from the Self Storage Association, a handful of state legislatures have updated their lien laws to explicitly allow online auctions. For the time being, Connie Heyer, legal counsel for the Texas Self Storage Association, recommends using online auctions as a “supplement to” rather than “in lieu of” an in-person auction. Finally, if your state has its own auction laws, familiarize yourself with them, as these laws certainly could apply in this complicated area.
Welcome.The Storage Facilitator is the modern self-storage professional's destination for useful education, intriguing news, diverse expert perspectives, technology updates, and beyond.
Get our free white paperThe Four Pillars of Profitable Self-Storage Management is an in-depth resource that empowers facility owners and managers to get more out of your business and stay ahead. The information contained herein has been obtained from third parties and we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information. North Carolina-based online storage auction service eBid Storage Auctions has a new name: Lockerfox. The service, launched in July 2014, initially catered to storage operators in the Charlotte, NC, area. The New Mexico Press Association is fanning the flames of the ongoing tussle over self-storage lien laws — and the self-storage industry is firing back. In a post on its website, the New Mexico Press Association, which represents newspapers around the state, takes on the self-storage industry over efforts to change the storage lien law in New Mexico. The association aims to block a proposed change in New Mexico’s public-notice provision for lien sales. The [self-storage] industry’s thumb is already heavy on the scale of justice where its consumers are concerned.

Tim Dietz, chief operating officer of the Self Storage Association, confirmed his group and the New Mexico Self Storage Association are lobbying to revise that state’s storage lien law. Regarding publication of lien-sale notices in newspapers, Dietz told The Storage Facilitator: “Classified advertisements are a $1 billion industry, yet because of obvious factors, such as a more broad reach electronically, much of the traditional advertising has migrated online. For years, the now-struggling newspaper industry has depended on lien notices and other legal advertising for a considerable chunk of revenue.
In the handful of states where public-notice requirements have been relaxed, Greenberger hasn’t heard an outcry from self-storage consumers. Mandating publication of lien-sale notices in newspapers actually takes money out of tenants’ pockets, according to Greenberger. The New Mexico Press Association maintains that changing public-notice requirements in its state and elsewhere erode consumer trust in the self-storage industry. Dietz defends the self-storage industry’s campaign to modernize public-notice requirements for lien sales. The press association fears that altering New Mexico’s public-notice requirement would erase “checks and balances” designed to protect self-storage customers.
Greenberger said public notices in newspapers might have been a good way to attract bidders to storage auctions “back in the day,” but they’ve never resolved the issue of alerting tenants whose rent is overdue and whose belongings are set to be auctioned. I do but I concede I am in the minority I have not seen the auction listings on craigslist. Taking just 1 newspaper, the Albuquerque Journal, has lost 50,000 Subscribers since 2006 – down from 150,000!
The convenience of online auctions can also be used to an auctioneer's advantage, however, and learning to use this tool for your auction business can put you ahead of the competition.
The way this works is that you would place the unit for auction on the site first, then have that auction end right before the live auction begins. This means that you can pocket more money from your commission, making these auctions more valuable.
As technology changes, the most successful businesspeople are those who can adapt to those changes -- and becoming a pro at online auctions can give you an edge over other auctioneers in your area.
However, rest assured that we're doing everything possible to prevent this from happening again.
The main differences between this site and it's competitors is that it's 100% free to use and it offers a legal alternative to storage facilities who are located in states where the legality of online storage auctions is questionable. Some state's self storage lien laws are vague and don't specify where the sales are to be held; therefore, one could reasonably assume that an online storage auction would be permissible. He replied “ Chapter 59 states that the sale must be a public sale at the self storage facility or a nearby public place. Our attorney covered quite a few points in regards to the Texas lien laws, but I'll address the specific one you cited. The debate here is not about what a “consummated sale” is, rather, it's about what the legal definition of a “public sale” is. I think that Sealed Online Bids' interpretation of the Texas storage lien law is a bit of a stretch, but either way, this is a legal question that will inevitably be resolved when a disgruntled tenant challenges the legality of an online sale. This leaves storage facilities to bear the brunt of the legal challenges that may arise by former tenants that believe that the law was not complied with.
Our advise to storage facilities – consult with your attorney to make sure that this type of sale complies with federal, interstate and your state's storage lien laws. Are Texas's storage lien laws specific enough or do you feel that companies that conduct storage auctions online have a good argument?
This is an opinion from a specialist in law pertaining to the storage industry and one of the top ten real estate attorneys in the country. The people who insist that that storage facilities can legally have their storage auction online are the ones who own the online storage auction websites. These auctions are the newest trend in resale, and they're growing in popularity as people learn about their convenience and take full advantage of them. It offers a platform for users to engage in auctions and purchase items, and it also enables users to leave feedback and participate in the world's largest storage auction community. No longer do buyers have to spend time and money traveling to facilities to bid on auctions.
Representatives of SmartStop Self Storage say their online auctions free up two to three manager workdays every month that otherwise would be spent on traditional auctions. For example, laws in Texas governing online storage auctions were written back in 1984, when the Internet was in its infancy. He speculates that the only group with a potential economic interest in preventing updates of state lien laws could be traditional auctioneers. 1, 2013, self-storage operators in North Carolina and Maryland will be able to hold lien sales through online auctions. By using online bids as starting points for the in-person process, self-storage operators can ensure they’re complying with state lien laws.
This white paper identifies major trends and best practices in rate management, occupancy analysis, rental contracts and profit management. Recently released features on Lockerfox are targeted at storage operators around the country. He first moved to Austin in 1999, when downtown Austin wasn't nearly as lively as it is today.

As it stands now, state law requires that notices of storage auctions be published in local newspapers.
That’s because any advertising costs are subtracted from auction proceeds—all of which must be handed over to the renters whose units are sold. In return, consumers expect to reclaim the property in good condition,” the press association says. While it may seem counter intuitive, online storage auctions can greatly enhance your auctioneer career.
We have some repairs to do on the server, some holes to patch on the site, and a lot of files to restore from backup.
The attorney for TSSA has stated that an Ebay or internet auction does not satisfy the statute in that the internet is not a public place. They organize a time for the buyer to then come in to the self storage facility's office for the actual purchase where the buyer pays cash for the sale, just as it always has been performed.
According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, a public sale is: a sale (as an auction) that is publicly advertised and that takes place at a location open to the public. Texas's storage lien laws still require legal notices to be placed in a newspaper instead of being communicated electronically on a website. To my knowledge, no state's storage lien laws specifically state that storage auctions can be held online and vise versa, no state's storage lien laws specifically state that they can't. Storage Unit Buyers also benefit from not wasting gas driving to the facilities, and being able to bid from home. At this time, storage facility owners that choose to have their storage auctions online must be willing to risk a wrongful foreclosure lawsuit and be willing to bear the brunt of the legal costs involved in challenging the legality of virtual storage auctions. However, Chapter 59 is very clear that the sale must occur at the storage facility or a reasonably near public place, which is why we are not currently hosting virtual storage auctions on our website. She is giving Texas storage facility owners good advice but it’s up to them to heed it. Organizations without a financial interest, such as the TSSA and Texas Storage Auction Schedules & News, feel that online storage auctions do not fulfill the legal requirements in the statute.
If you've never taken part in an online auction, though, you may be reluctant to try it out. At the end of the auction, the bidder exchanges money with the person auctioning off the unit, and goods change hands. Additionally, there are ways to sidestep the lien laws, such as running an online auction in tandem with a live auction. He educates operators about the risks, provides a legal disclaimer and encourages them to examine their states’ lien laws.
The proposed update would allow public notices to be published online as well as in local newspapers.
I would rather have my rent any day than to have to auction a unit and as the attorney said, the newspapers don’t provide any safeguard.
If no one outbids the starting bid, the unit goes to the online bidder and you move on to your next unit. The overall issue is the fact that every state's lien laws were written long before the mainstream internet as we know it today. The only way to know for sure is to look at your state's storage lien laws to see if they specify a location for where the sale is to be held. If so, the Texas legislature could not have been considering the non-existent internet as an alternative to a live auction.
Fortunately, it's easy to participate in an auction -- and it costs nothing aside from the cost of the winning bid itself.
Finally, private sellers can take advantage of online auctions as well, so not every auction you see will be a lien sale. Lisa Torraco, a Republican from Albuquerque, is sponsoring the legislation (Senate Bill 311). These past due renters are deadbeats and I doubt they read the paper anyhow, the general public doesn’t.
This sidesteps the legal concerns in states where exclusively virtual auctions are not allowed, and it saves you a lot of time. Our auctions are conducted online, yes, but the actual process of purchasing the unit-in-lien is a cash-in-person exchange performed at the storage facility where the contents are stored.
It’s just a matter of time before our lawmakers realize the benefits of allowing storage auctions to be held online and they are made legal in Texas.
For the papers, it’s all about a last gasp effort to collect their revenues just as an auction is a last gasp effort to collect from a deadbeat.
Through a narrow loophole that depends on one's interpretation of what a public sale and what a public place is.
It’s not worth the potential legal ramifications, legal fees, judgements and negative publicity.
Dallas Consignment Auction has helped numerous facility owners in the DFW area by increasing their storage auction sales & efficiency.

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