Storage Unit Water Damage: The Ultimate Guide for 2024

Who is liable for storage unit water damage? Learn what to do when your belongings are affected while in storage and tips to protect your items in advance!

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You pack up your stuff and haul it to a storage unit for safekeeping. But when you return months later, you find your storage unit flooded…  who is responsible?

More importantly, what should you do?

Water—in the form of flood—has always been a major cause of property damage, costing an estimated £1 billion loss on a yearly basis across the UK. It’s important to know how to navigate cases of storage unit water damage; this article provides information on the various triggers, who is legally responsible, the next steps for both the storage unit owner and renter, and, most importantly, how to protect your items.

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What Causes Water Damage in Storage Units?

Understanding the triggers of water damage in storage units can help you secure your properties or facilities against damage.

The various causes of water damage in storage facilities include:

  • Weather Conditions: Severe weather events such as heavy rain, storms, or flooding can lead to water seepage into storage units, especially if they are not properly sealed or insulated.

  • Leaky Roofs and Pipes: Aging or poorly maintained roofs and plumbing systems in storage facilities can result in leaks, leading to water infiltration into the units.

  • Poor Drainage: Inadequate drainage systems around the storage units can result in standing water, which can eventually find its way into the units.

  • Humidity and Condensation: Lack of proper ventilation and air circulation within the storage units can cause humidity buildup, leading to condensation and moisture accumulation, eventually causing water damage to stored items.

  • Neighbouring Units: Water damage in one storage unit can also affect neighbouring units if the water spreads through shared walls or floors.

Causes of Water Damage in Storage Units Section Image

Now that you know the various ways by which water damage can occur, how do you prevent it? More importantly, who is responsible for such damage: the tenant or the facility owner?

Are Storage Units Responsible for Damage?

Typically, the responsibility of a storage unit water damage falls on the tenant.


Well, this is subject to the agreement a tenant signed when renting the units. Most facility managers usually don’t take responsibility for damages that do not result from them, which typically includes water damage.

So, as a facility manager, ensure to make this obligation clear to your tenants. As a tenant, you have several options to consider when handling items exposed to storage unit water damage.

What to Do if Your Storage Unit Is Damaged by Water

If you are a victim of storage unit water damage, you can’t hold your facility manager responsible, except there is a provision for that in your agreement.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do, including the following:

  • Remove and dry everything immediately.
  • Consult your insurance and storage facility.
  • Elevate items off the floor.

1. Remove and Dry Everything Immediately.

Upon discovering water damage in your storage unit, act fast. Remove all items from the unit and thoroughly dry them to avoid mould growth. Use towels, fans, and dehumidifiers to dry items like furniture, boxes, and clothing; for important documents and electronics, carefully blot to absorb excess moisture. The quicker you can dry things out, the less severe the damage will be.

2. Consult Your Insurance and Storage Facility.

If you insure your properties, check with your insurance provider and storage facility to determine who is responsible for damage costs. Many self storage companies are not liable for water damage from natural disasters, plumbing issues, or sprinkler systems. However, if negligence on their part caused the leak or flooding, they may be partially or fully responsible. Review your rental agreement and insurance policy to understand coverage and the next steps for reimbursement or replacement of damaged goods.

3. Elevate Items off the Floor.

To reduce the risk of future water damage in storage, keep items elevated off the floor. Place furniture, boxes, and other goods on wooden pallets or shelving units. This creates airflow underneath and separates items from standing water in the event of a leak or flood. For smaller items, use plastic bins with lids to keep things grouped and contained.

Of course, the best way to avoid headaches from water damage is by choosing a storage facility with robust safety and security solutions in place. Look for features like 24-hour monitoring, climate-controlled units, fire sprinklers, smart and remote self storage software, and regular facility maintenance.

Damaged Floor Image While there’s always a chance of unforeseen disasters, these steps will minimise risks to your valued belongings in the case of water damage. Staying on top of the situation, communicating with the relevant parties, and taking preventative actions will help remedy water damage issues as quickly and painlessly as possible. Continue reading for additional recommendations to help you avoid water damage to your stored items.

3 Tips to Prevent Water Damage in Your Storage Unit

To avoid thousands of dollars in damage from flooding or leaks in your storage unit, taking some preventative steps is key.

In addition to the previous tips, here are 3 other precautions that you can take to prevent storage unit water damage:

  • Use waterproof containers.
  • Regularly inspect your unit.
  • Consider additional coverage.

1. Use Waterproof Containers.

The best way to protect your items is by storing them in plastic, watertight containers with secure lids. Tupperware, Rubbermaid bins, and sealable plastic totes are all great options. For smaller items like documents, place them in resealable plastic bags. These storage options create an impenetrable barrier against water and moisture.

2. Regularly Inspect Your Unit.

Make it a habit to regularly inspect your storage unit for any signs of water damage or leaks. Check the ceilings, walls, pipes, and anywhere else water could enter. Look for stains, drips or musty smells, which could indicate a slow leak. It’s much easier to have small leaks repaired before they become big problems. Talk to your storage facility manager right away if you notice an issue.

3. Consider Additional Coverage

While storage facilities are generally not liable for damage due to “acts of God” like flooding, some offer additional insurance plans to cover water damage and other losses. These plans typically charge a small percentage of your unit rental fee. For high-value or irreplaceable items, the extra coverage can provide peace of mind that your belongings are protected should the worst happen.

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By taking some time to properly prepare and regularly checking on your storage unit, you can rest easy knowing your items are protected from the threat of storage unit water damage. You may be wondering if the last recommendation is really necessary and whether it’s worth the additional cost. Check out the next section, where we expound on insurance for stored items.

Should You Insure Your Storage Unit Contents?

Storing your belongings in a self storage unit provides peace of mind that your items are safe in a secure facility. However, accidents happen, and a common method to mitigate the risk of accidents is insurance. This begs the question: is storage unit insurance worth the investment?

The short answer is yes.

Should You Insure Your Storage Unit Contents Section Image

While storage facilities take measures to protect units from damage, they aren’t responsible for losses due to events outside of their control. So, it’s in your best interest to purchase an insurance cover for your properties.

Here are various reasons why you should insure your storage unit contents:

  • You are better prepared for unforeseen circumstances.
  • You have extended coverage.
  • It’s relatively affordable.

1. You Are Better Prepared for Unforeseen Circumstances.

Storage unit insurance covers your belongings from unforeseen circumstances like fire, theft, vandalism, and weather damage. Some policies offer reimbursement based on the square footage of your unit. For example, £1,000 of coverage for a 5’x10’ unit or £2,500 for a 10’x20’ unit.

2. You Have Extended Coverage.

Your storage facility’s insurance may already provide some coverage for items in your storage. However, the coverage is usually limited to a percentage of the total value of your policy and may not cover the full value of your unit’s contents. It also likely won’t cover losses from natural disasters. For full protection, investing in storage unit insurance is your best bet.

3. It’s Relatively Affordable.

Rates for storage unit insurance are generally affordable, which can be as low as £13.5 per year, depending on the coverage amount and value of your items. While an extra cost, the peace of mind that your cherished belongings are protected in the event of unforeseen damage or loss is worth it.

How Do You Choose the Right Insurance?

When choosing a policy, look for one that provides replacement cost coverage, meaning the insurer will reimburse you for the full cost of replacing your damaged or stolen items. Also, check if the policy covers natural disasters, requires a deductible, and if coverage limits apply. Read reviews from other customers to determine the insurer’s claim service and payout history.

By taking a proactive approach to insuring your storage unit contents, you can rest easy knowing your boxes of family photos, sporting equipment, or furniture are shielded in the event of fire, theft or an act of God.

Now, let’s consider what you can do if your storage facility is responsible for any water damage.

5 Actions to Take if Your Storage Facility Is Liable

If you experience water damage in a storage unit due to negligence on the part of the facility, here are steps you should take right away:

  • Contact your insurance company.
  • Document the damage.
  • Separate damaged goods.
  • Review your storage contract.
  • Discuss compensation with the facility.

1. Contact Your Insurance Company.

Even if the storage company is liable, your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance may help cover the costs of any items that were damaged. Provide details about the incident and an estimate of the value of goods that were harmed. They can walk you through the claims process.

2. Document the Damage.

Take photos and videos of your storage unit and any water-logged boxes or items before removing them. Get close-ups of any labels or identifiers on the containers. These records will be important for insurance claims and in case you need to pursue legal action against the facility.

3. Separate Damaged Goods.

As unpleasant as it is, go through your storage unit and remove any items that have been damaged beyond repair; place them in a separate pile to be disposed of. For items that can be salvaged, air them out, dry them off, and pack them up to minimise further damage. Moisture can lead to mould growth within 24–48 hours, so act fast.

4. Review Your Storage Contract.

The contract you signed with the facility likely lays out their responsibility for damages in certain scenarios. See what conditions they agreed to and what, if any, liability limits they have in place. You may need to consult with a lawyer regarding your legal options for recovering costs, especially if the value of damaged property is significant.

5. Discuss Compensation with the Facility.

If the storage company acknowledges fault for the water damage, ask them directly about compensation for your losses. Be prepared to provide documentation to substantiate the value of damaged goods. They may be willing to settle out of court to avoid a lawsuit. But if they deny responsibility or their offer seems unreasonable, you may need to pursue further legal counsel.

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The most important steps are acting quickly to mitigate further damage, documenting what happened thoroughly, and understanding your options for recovering costs from your insurance and/or the storage facility if liable. While water damage to a storage unit is an unfortunate situation, by following the proper procedures, you can minimise the impact.

Note: There are cases where your insurance company or storage facility isn’t responsible for water damage in a storage unit. In fact, there are also certain circumstances where the responsibility falls on you, and we’ll explore these scenarios below.

When You May Be Responsible for Your Own Storage Unit Damage

Unfortunately, there are situations where you may be on the hook for damage to your storage unit and the items inside. This means neither the storage facility nor your insurance company will defray the costs of the damaged items.

These situations include:

  • Poor packing
  • Natural disasters without insurance
  • Rodents and pets

1. Poor Packing

If you did a poor job packing your belongings and they incurred damage in transit or while in storage, you’ll typically be responsible for the costs. Make sure everything is securely packed in sturdy boxes and cushioned properly before moving them into your unit. Valuable or fragile items may need special packing material like bubble wrap to avoid dents, dings or breaks.

2. Natural Disasters Without Insurance

Natural disasters are another scenario where you may be liable, unless you purchased additional insurance. Events like floods, hurricanes, or earthquakes can easily damage your stored goods, so consider getting coverage for these types of unforeseen catastrophes. Always check if your homeowner’s insurance or renters insurance covers storage units as well.

3. Rodents and Pets

Pests or rodents chewing through boxes to access your items would also generally be your responsibility. Take precautions like using heavy-duty plastic or wooden containers, and avoid leaving food remnants in the storage unit that could attract unwanted visitors.

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While no one wants to think about their cherished belongings being damaged, taking proactive steps can help reduce risks. Carefully packing your items, properly maintaining your storage unit and considering additional insurance for natural disasters are all within your control.

Extra Tip for Storage Facility Owners

If you are a storage facility manager, it is your responsibility to create the most secure environment possible for renters’ items. If damage occurs from your negligence, tenants can file a claim, which can cut into your bottom line. We recommend focusing on security and automation with self storage software like Storeganise.


The bottom line is that while storage unit water damage is frustrating, you’re not completely helpless. Taking preventative steps like using plastic bins and avoiding ground units can reduce your risks. However, if the unthinkable does happen, stay calm and take action quickly; document everything and know your rights under the contract. With some perseverance, you can get the compensation you deserve.

Similarly, consider purchasing additional insurance cover or check out with your existing insurance company to understand your current coverage. If you have the right insurance, make sure to file a claim in the case of water damage. For facility owners, ensure your storage unit is well protected against damages by implementing routine maintenance policies and opting for self storage software to automate operations.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Keep Water out of My Storage Unit?

To keep water out of your storage unit, follow these tips:

  • Clean and dry items before storing them to prevent moisture buildup.
  • Pack desiccators, such as silica gel packets, in your containers to absorb excess moisture.
  • Ensure proper airflow within the unit to prevent humidity and condensation.
  • Consider renting a climate-controlled unit to maintain optimal temperature and humidity levels for your stored items.

How Do I Keep Mould From Growing in My Storage Unit?

To prevent mould from growing in your storage unit, take these steps:

  • Choose moisture-resistant boxes.
  • Clean and thoroughly dry items before storing them.
  • Ensure proper airflow within the unit.

Will My Stuff Get Mouldy in Storage?

Yes, if moisture enters the containers before sealing, there’s a high likelihood of mildew growing on your belongings and the containers. By ensuring proper sealing and cleaning, as well as introducing desiccators, you can help prevent mould growth in storage.