Even though self storage facilities are constantly working to increase their occupancies, sometimes a self storage operator must make the decision to terminate the lease of a paying tenant. It may be that the tenant is using the rented space in violation of the rental agreement’s use provision or maybe the tenant is belligerent to the managers. Whatever the reason may be, every self storage operator must have the ability to end the month to month lease and remove a tenant from its leased space.
Therefore, every lease should contain a provision dealing with an owner's right to terminate a tenant's lease. Standard provisions should read as follows: “This agreement shall continue from month to month unless the Occupant or Owner delivers to the other party a written notice of its intentions to terminate the agreement five (5) days prior to the end of the then current rental month. Upon termination of this agreement, Occupant shall remove all personal property from the space and shall deliver possession of the space to Owner within five (5) working days unless its property is subject to Owner's lien rights as referenced in this lease agreement”.
A provision like this is the cornerstone for an owner's right to remove its bad tenants. Pursuant to this provision, once an incident occurs that leads to the owner's desire to terminate the tenant, the facility owner should send a termination letter to the tenant via certified mail (and e-mail). The letter can, but does not need to, identify the reason for the termination but should cite to the provision of the lease entitling the owner to terminate the lease. The letter should then demand that the tenant remove its property from the unit within a certain deadline. That deadline should match the date rent has been paid through by the tenant.
Hopefully, most tenants will leave in response to such a termination notice since most tenants will likely not want to challenge the facility's rights. Others will say no and decide to fight. Others will simply not respond because they can't afford to move or chose to ignore the notice. Most state self storage statutes provide only for foreclosure sales against nonpaying tenants and do not allow such a remedy with paying tenants. An owner's recourse is therefore limited to getting either the tenant's agreement to leave the space or requesting the court's intervention to obtain an order for eviction.
The approach for evicting a paying tenant is to take your lease and claim of tenant breach and file the appropriate dispossessory or eviction papers with your County Court. The basis of such an action is that the tenant, after being terminated, is now a "tenant at sufferance." A tenant at sufferance is one who holds over its tenancy against the consent of the landlord.
Such dispossessory or eviction proceedings for a tenant at sufferance can be commenced and resolved quickly (unless the tenant contests the action) and, if successful, the result would be a court order allowing you to evict the tenant and their property. If the tenant later sued you for wrongful eviction, trespass or conversion, the court order would strengthen your defenses based on the position that the court approved the eviction.