Many of us rent storage units when we are between homes and apartments, and put some our most valuable clothing and furniture inside.
But tenants in one brand new Cincinnati-area storage unit are finding mold all over their precious belongings just a few months after it opened.
Stephanie Goldfuss rented a unit inside the new CubeSmart in Eastgate, figuring it would be a clean, dry storage spot, with no risk of rodents or bedbugs.
She and her husband placed three couches, a dining room set and baby furniture in the unit while they prepared to move into a new home for their young family.
But she says just three moths later, her furnishings appear to be covered in mold.
"We discovered white stuff on our couch," she said. "So I got the flashlight out and discovered it was mold, white fuzz mold, down both of our couches."
Where is the moisture coming from?
Mold needs two things to start growing: one is darkness and the other is dampness, like in a dark wet basement. Goldfass believes she had both of them in her unit.
"Look," she said, pointing to the floor, "this is a small amount of water that has not gone away."
On the concrete floor, near her couch, is what appears to be condensation. She says a maintenance man told tenants it may be due to hot, humid summer air hitting the cold concrete floors when the doors are opened.
But it's not just her unit. We spoke with two other first-floor renters, who are not friends or relatives of each other, who also claim to have found mold, too.
Gary Hawley also put furniture in a unit during his recent move.
"When we came to get it," he said, "we noticed there was mold all over the furniture and on a couple of boxes."
Hawley says he purchased insurance offered by the storage facility, but discovered it covers only major disasters like fire or flood.
"Without having evidence of a leak in the building, there was not anything that would trigger coverage," he says the company told him.
How to protect yourself
So don't let this happen to you.
- Inspect a storage unit for signs of bugs, mice, and moisture before you move in.
- Think twice before leaving upholstered couches and chairs in a storage facility.
- Place clothing and other personal items in plastic bins, not cardboard boxes.
- Make sure your homeowners or renters insurance will cover any losses. Don't depend on the storage unit's insurance, which may cover only for fire, tornado, or flood.
Goldfuss and Hawley may each be out out more than $2,000.
We are attempting to get some help for affected tenants.
However, the on-site manager told us he could not comment, and referred us to the regional manager in Columbus, Ohio as well as the head of investor relations for the CubeSmart chain in Pennsylvania. So far, neither has returned our phone calls or email.
Goldfuss, meantime, says she may have to throw out her couches.
"My husband works hard to provide for our family," the distressed mom said, "and we've lost our furniture."
As always, don't waste your money.
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