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Change in auction notices ill-advised

hb 247 favors special interests over need for public awareness

Published: December 12, 2012 4:00 AM

Lame duck legislative ses-

sions sometimes include a flurry of last-minute action on measures that receive minimal attention because of the approaching holidays, which can be ideal for items tailored to serve special interests.

Such seems to be the case with House Bill 247, now pending at the Statehouse, which deals with public notices for self-service storage unit auctions.

When a storage unit tenant defaults on rent, the contents of the unit are offered for sale. Interest in the auctions has increased, largely because of "Storage Wars," a popular cable TV show focusing on the occasional rewards of bidding on storage units.

The present law requires storage unit auctions to be advertised for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the storage unit is located. This serves public notice to the owner of the unit's contents that an auction has been scheduled, and also draws the attention of potential bidders.

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HB 247 would short-circuit the public notice requirement. Instead of newspaper advertising, "any other commercially reasonable manner" would serve as sufficient notice as long as "three independent bidders attend the sale at the time and place advertised."

The change would enable owners of self-storage units to proceed with selling the contents of storage units with minimal notice to those who have leased them. Others who might have an interest in ownership of the units' contents, such as family members, estranged spouses or business associates, also could be affected by the change.

As a newspaper, we have a vested interest in this because public notices generate advertising revenue. But we also raise the issue because the proposal would lessen the existing mandate for public awareness of such sales.

Secrecy, whether through closing the doors to a government meeting or making it more difficult to know when a storage unit auction is being held, is an invitation for abuse by the unscrupulous. There are reasons, and good ones, for requiring public notice of storage unit auctions.

We urge the House Judiciary Committee to take a closer look at HB 247 and reassert the need for proper advertisement of storage auction sales.

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anonymous Dec 13, 2012 11:29 AM

@ DoWhatsRight: *IF* there is a shyster operator, and I'm sure there are, this would allow the operator to funnel goods to their comrades. On the other hand the law could be written so the renters briken contract would allow the owner to simply dispose of the storage units contents any way the owner sees fit. I THINK THE GREATER DANGER lays in the change of the notification process, where someone other than the renter has an interest in the storage units contents not being informed of their last chance to purchase what they have an interest in. ... I can understand the rental units owners predicament of having units tied up and not creating revenue, BUT there is a cost of doing business and this happens to be part of the cost of running a storage unit business.

anonymous Dec 12, 2012 3:39 PM

I think this is terrible. You should have to send a registered letter to the storage renter and give them time to contact you. These shysters probable make more money selling the contents than the make in rental. I will bet that the rental owners get first crack at the good things first.

My gosh the crap you have to go through for someone renting a house takes at least 45 days and several fees to be able to get the house back. Then you have to place the renters belonging out by the curb. If it is raining you have to cover the belongings to protect them long enough for the owner to get them. Even then the owner of the property is out several hundred dollars in rent, and utilities, which he never gets back. The owner should be able to sell the renters stuff if the allow a storage unit owner to sell them.