The unprecedented West Coast wildfires have burned a heartfelt question into the minds of SSA’s staff and leadership: “How can we help?”
We see three scenarios unfolding for members in California and Oregon: 1. You’ve already been directly impacted by a wildfire; 2. You’re at high risk from an existing wildfire; 3. You’re not near an existing event but you’re located in an area that’s susceptible to wildfire. Here are some quick tips regarding each scenario.
If your self storage facility has been damaged or destroyed by one of these fires, please know that your SSA family is with you in spirit and shares the grief of your loss. But moral support isn’t enough. What actions can we take right away to ease your burden and help you onto the road toward recovery? Please tell us via our website contact form.
Getting Help: Your immediate wellbeing is paramount.
Insurance: Contact your insurance provider immediately, advises SSA SVP, Chief Legal & Legislative Officer Joe Doherty. You should also encourage each of your tenants to promptly contact their insurance providers.
Pricing Restrictions: If you have buildings that are still standing and you’re able to operate, please note that California and Oregon both have price-gouging restrictions. “The current wildfire price-gouging restrictions in California overlap with the COVID pricing restrictions, which have been in place since March,” said Doherty. “Those restrictions have limited price increases to 10%. Oregon’s pricing restrictions allow for increases up to 15%.”
Required Disclosure: Doherty adds, “California’s lien law requires operators to provide in their rental agreement ‘[c]onspicuous disclosure in bold text of the allocation of responsibility for the risk of loss or damage to the customer’s goods, including any disclaimer of the company’s liability, and the procedure for presenting any claim regarding loss or damage to the company.’ Operators should ensure that they have this required disclosure and follow it.”
If your facility’s location puts you in the likely path of a currently-active wildfire, please make safety, health and welfare your top priority — for yourself, your employees and your customers.
- Closely monitor local emergency authorities and be prepared for sudden evacuation.
- Know your escape routes.
- Exercise maximum caution and prudent judgment.
Check out these resources now if you have time:
If your area has not been part of this latest spate of fires, but your geography and surroundings are susceptible to burning, please use this time to focus on your preparedness. Check out the resource links above. Here are additional suggestions:
- Have a plan. Refer to SSA’s Emergency Preparedness Manual: A Planned Response Guide for the Self Storage Facility.
- Be sure your local first-responder and emergency-management agencies know your facility is there. Ask them to include you in advance planning for evacuations. Ask them about emergency communications arrangements. And ask them how you can be a good neighbor to help them during drills or actual events.
- Communicate in advance with your renters. Be sure they are clear about your safety and evacuation protocols. Encourage them to insure their stored belongings. Anticipate their questions, such as: Do I have to pay rent if the facility is forced to close? Will I have access to my unit during an emergency? If a fire forces me from my home or even burns down my house, but the storage facility remains standing and operational, will I incur late fees if my payment is delayed?
- Communicate in advance with your insurance company to thoroughly understand your insurance coverage as well as their required procedures in the event of a disaster. Does your insurance provider have any material that would help your planning (example: Sage Insurance offers this comprehensive PDF guide)? How much protection do you have from liability? Do you have business-continuity coverage? Now is the time to get answers — before a disaster strikes.