2021 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA
SSA advocates for amendments and updates to self storage lien laws in all 50 states. SSA typically seeks seven core amendments to laws in states that have not previously adopted them. Overall, these amendments aim to reduce costs, streamline operations, and limit liability for the operator. Moreover, SSA is the industry’s voice to oppose threats to your business – many of which came up and were successfully beaten back last year.
To date, the SSA has achieved those updates in the following numbers of states:
Working in conjunction with the state associations, SSA has the following legislative agenda for 2021:
Newspaper advertising. Many state lien laws require advertisements in the newspaper before an operator may proceed to sale. Generally, in those states, the operator must advertise once or twice in the newspaper before the sale. This requirement is a relic from the pre-internet era when many more citizens received their news from print newspapers. In recognition of the decline of newspaper readership and the growth of online channels, the SSA seeks to allow storage operators to advertise online through auction websites and sites such as Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. In 2021, SSA is pursuing this modernization effort in the following states: Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Vermont, North Dakota, Kentucky, Utah, Missouri, and Louisiana.
Notice by verified mail. SSA seeks to eliminate the requirement hat lien notices be sent via certified mail and instead permit those notices to be sent by verified mail. Verified mail is a term of art and includes U.S. Mail with certificate of mailing. U.S. Mail with certificate of mailing provides proof that the notice has been sent and automatically forwards to a new address. This provides a greater assurance that the tenant will receive the notice and is less expensive than certified mail. We are seeking this change the following states: Alabama, Vermont, and North Dakota.
Notice by email. Many self storage tenants are in transition and prefer to receive lien and other notices via email. Unlike physical addresses, email addresses typically remain the same when an individual moves. We are seeking to amend laws in the following states to permit lien notices to be sent via email: Ohio, Alabama, Vermont, and North Dakota.
Contractual value limitation. Certainly the most obscure sounding, but perhaps the most important of the changes that SSA seeks. Many operators include in their rental agreement a limitation of the value of the property that the tenant may store in the unit. Value limitations are a necessary tool for operators because they have no reasonable means to know the type or value of property that customers are storing on a self-service basis. SSA seeks statutory recognition of these value limitations to prevent courts from ignoring the limitations. In the event of a lawsuit, this is a powerful tool to reduce any potential damages owed to a tenant. We are seeking this change in the following states: Alabama, Kansas, Vermont, and North Dakota.
Online sales. Online sales can expand the audience of potential bidders by allowing bidders to submit bids without attending a one-day sale in person. More bidders increases the likelihood of higher bids. SSA seeks to expressly permit operators to conduct any lien sales online while also retaining the ability to hold those sales “live” at the facility. We are seeking this amendment in the following states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Vermont, and North Dakota.
Optional towing. Many storage operators do not want to go through the process for selling a titled vehicle, watercraft, or trailer. The process can be cumbersome, and many operators are not frequently called upon to conduct these sales. Towing avoids the need for a sale and allows operators to return the space to inventory faster. SSA is seeking to amend the laws in the following states to permit operators to have vehicles, watercraft, and trailers towed in lieu of going through the sale process: Ohio, Virginia, Alabama, Vermont, North Dakota, and Texas.
Late fee safe harbor. Many states have a late fee safe harbor of up to $20 or 20% of the monthly rent, whichever is greater. These amounts strike an appropriate balance to compensate the operator for delinquent payment while not being overly burdensome to the tenant. SSA is pursuing safe harbor legislation in the following states: Pennsylvania, Alabama, Vermont, and North Dakota.
Tenant insurance. Outside of the lien laws, the SSA has established licensing or licensing exemptions to sell tenant insurance in 39 states. This year, SSA is pursuing tenant insurance licensing bills in the following states: Wisconsin, Iowa, Montana, Maine, and New Hampshire.
Defensive. SSA has been busy over the last few years in particular opposing legislative threats to the industry. The industry is already facing threats to the lien remedy in New York. Similar threats as well as sales taxes and other burdens on the industry may come up during the year. SSA will be prepared to strongly oppose those measures.
Last year, despite a very difficult political climate, the storage industry secured several legislative victories. First, SSA worked to authorize Vermont operators and their employees to sell self storage insurance to their customers. Additionally, Mississippi, Idaho, and Tennessee enacted substantial lien law modernizations, with Mississippi and Idaho respectively adopting all and most of SSA’s seven lien law priorities. Tennessee now expressly permits online auctions and eliminated the newspaper advertising requirement. All three states’ lien law manuals have been updated, click here to purchase.
SSA members can review the current status of all of these bills here (exclusive content for members)
Please email Joe Doherty or Daniel Bryant if you have questions about the status of legislative initiatives in your state or if you hear of any threats to the industry.
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