Guide to UK Storage Auctions—Preparation, Bidding, and What to Watch Out For

This article will walk you through these auctions, from understanding what a storage auction is to placing your first successful bid. Whether you're a seasoned bidder or new to the scene, discovering what lies behind the storage unit door is always exciting!!



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Guide to UK Storage Auctions—Preparation, Bidding, and What to Watch Out For

This article will walk you through these auctions, from understanding what a storage auction is to placing your first successful bid. Whether you're a seasoned bidder or new to the scene, discovering what lies behind the storage unit door is always exciting!!

gavil on wooden table

Dive into our comprehensive guide to UK storage auctions

Imagine stumbling upon storage unit halfway filled with treasures, reminiscent of scenes from TV shows like "Storage Hunters" or "Storage Wars." Storage auctions in the UK might not always promise the drama of television, but they do offer a unique opportunity to uncover valuable items and secure great bargains.

These auctions offer the chance to get a peak at a unit in between collections, offering a mix of belongings from different times or activities. Let's dive into everything you need to know about storage auctions in the UK.

Table of contents

  1. What you'll need to participate in storage auctions
  2. The storage auction process
  3. Types of items commonly found
  4. Legal considerations
  5. Preparing to bid at auctions
  6. Online vs. physical auctions
  7. Directory of storage auctions in the UK
  8. Risks and pitfalls
  9. Future trends in storage auctions
  10. Conclusion

What is a storage auction?

A storage unit auction is a public sale where the contents of storage units are sold to the highest bidder. These auctions typically occur when a customer defaults and fails to pay their rental fees for a specified period. This leads the storage facility to reclaim the unit.

What you'll need to participate in storage auctions

  • Valid identification – Bring a form of ID to verify your identity at the auction.
  • Registration – Some auctions require you to register beforehand, either online or in person.
  • Payment method – Check the accepted forms of payment, such as cash, credit card, or bank transfer.
  • Contact information – Have contact details ready for quick registration or to receive notifications about auction details.
  • Transport and logistics – Plan how you'll transport your winnings, as you'll often need to clear out units quickly.
  • Tools for inspection – Bring a flashlight and gloves to inspect units at in-person auctions.
  • Budget planning – Set a clear budget to ensure you don't overspend during the excitement of bidding.

The storage auction process

Close-up of judge with people in courtroom

Step 1 – Notification of default

The public is notified of these auctions through various channels such as the facility’s website, auction platforms, and sometimes local newspapers.

Step 2 – Announcement and preparation

Once an auction is scheduled, the storage facility will announce it, detailing the date, time, and terms of the auction. Potential buyers can usually view a list of upcoming storage unit auctions and sometimes a brief description or photos of the unit’s contents online.

Bidders should register in advance and familiarise themselves with the auction rules, such as whether they’re bidding on individual items or the entire contents of the unit.

Step 3 – Inspection

For in-person storage auctions, this usually means taking a quick look from the unit doorway, without entering the unit or touching any items. For online storage auctions, photographs and descriptions are provided on the auction platform.

Step 4 – The bidding process

The auction itself is straightforward. Bidders will raise their bids either in person or through an online platform. The auctioneer or online system will continue to take bids until the highest bid is reached. Bidders need to stick to their budget to avoid overpaying.

Step 5 – Payment and clearance

Once the auction ends, the winning bidder must pay for their storage unit according to the facility’s specified methods, which could include cash, card, or bank transfer.

Successful buyers are usually given a timeframe, often 24 to 48 hours, to clear out their purchased units. Failure to do so might result in additional charges.

Step 6 – Removal of items

After payment, buyers are responsible for removing all items from the storage unit. This process must be completed within the timeframe set by the storage facility. Planning for transportation and labor for this task is crucial, especially if the unit contains large or numerous items.

Types of items commonly found

box of antique framed paintings

At storage auctions, you can come across a wide range of items, from everyday household goods to unexpected treasures. Here are some of the common and not-so-common finds:

  • Furniture and Appliances – Many storage units contain furniture - an old sofa, tables, and chairs. Sometimes, there are event appliances like washing machines and refrigerators.
  • Personal Belongings – Items like clothes, books, and personal documents are frequently found. These may not always be valuable but can be in bulk quantities.
  • Electronics – From older models of televisions and computers to more contemporary gadgets, electronics are a staple in many storage units.
  • Collectables and Antiques – Occasionally, bidders may discover valuable antiques or collectables, such as vintage toys, rare art pieces, or antique furniture.
  • Tools and Equipment – Storage units often house tools and equipment used in trades or hobbies, which can be quite valuable to the right buyer.
  • Unexpected Valuables – Some of the more unusual finds can include cash-filled teddy bears, classic video games, or even historical artefacts. These rare finds can sometimes lead to significant profits.

These varied items highlight the allure of storage auctions—the thrill of uncovering hidden treasures that could be lurking within abandoned storage units.

Legal considerations

lady justice, book, gavil

Understanding the legal framework is crucial:

  • Buyer's Rights and Responsibilities – As a buyer, you are purchasing the storage unit's contents "as seen" without warranty. It's important to understand that once you place a successful bid, you are responsible for the items, including their removal and lawful disposal if necessary.
  • Data Protection and Privacy – Storage facilities must comply with data protection laws. This means personal items such as documents, photographs, and other potentially sensitive materials should be handled appropriately. Buyers should be aware of their obligations to protect previous owners' privacy.
  • Contractual Obligations – When you bid at a storage auction, you enter into a contractual agreement with the storage facility. Ensure you are aware of the terms, such as payment deadlines and item removal, as failure to comply can result in additional charges or legal action.
  • Trespassing and Access – Access to the storage units is typically granted only during specified times for inspection and removal of purchased items. Unauthorized access outside these times can be considered trespassing.
  • Employment of Auction Houses – Many storage facilities employ auction houses to handle the sale process. This can add a layer of assurance as these auction houses are experienced in managing bids, legalities, and ensuring fair play among bidders.

Preparing to bid at auctions

Participating successfully in storage auctions, whether online or in person, requires a bit of preparation and strategy. Here are some tips to help first-time bidders get started:

  • Set a price limit – Before the auction starts, determine how much you're willing to spend and stick to it. This helps prevent getting caught up in the heat of the moment and spending more than you can afford.
  • Research the auction – This knowledge can help you make more educated bids and identify which storage units are worth your attention.
  • Inspect the storage unit – Look for visible items that can hint at the unit's value. For online auctions, carefully review any provided photos and descriptions.
  • Read auction terms carefully – You may need to make immediate payment, or when the items need to be removed from the storage unit.
  • Plan for transportation and storage – Have a plan for how you will transport and store your purchased items. This is especially important if you buy large items or multiple units.
  • Stay calm and focused – Auctions can be exciting and competitive. Stick to your budget, and don't let the competitive atmosphere lead you to make impulsive decisions.

Online vs. physical auctions

Illustration of auction vs online auction

When deciding between online and physical storage auctions, it's important to consider the benefits and challenges of each format:

  • Online auctions – Offers convenience and the ability to participate from anywhere, making them ideal if the auction is not conveniently located nearby. This format allows you to view photos and descriptions of the storage unit's contents beforehand, which can help in making more informed bids. Online auctions often extend over several days, giving you ample time to consider your bid.
  • Physical auctions – Seeing the storage unit's contents with your own eyes can offer a better sense of the items' condition and potential value. However, physical auctions require you to be present at the storage facility, which might not always be conveniently located. They can also move quickly, requiring immediate decision-making.
  • Hybrid approaches – Some storage companies conduct their own private auctions that blend online bidding with an in-person preview of the units. This method can be advantageous as it combines the thoroughness of physical inspections with the convenience of online bidding.

Directory of storage auctions in the UK

Graphic of gavil, credit card, and clipboard

For those interested in participating in storage auctions across the UK, here is a directory of major platforms and locations where these auctions are held:

  • iBidOnStorage is an online platform specialises in online storage unit auctions, featuring units from various storage companies across the UK. It's an excellent place to start if you're looking to buy storage units.
  • Storage Bidder is another online auction site that offers a wide range of storage unit auctions, including units in between collections.
  • Ekonnect Storage Auctions offers a user-friendly service in the UK. This platform is dedicated to the auction of abandoned storage rooms without charging buyers any fees, ensuring a transparent bidding process. It serves both buyers looking for deals on abandoned units and sellers seeking to auction off rooms efficiently.
  • Local storage providers – Your local storage provider may hold their own private auctions or collaborate with auction houses to sell units. Contacting providers in your local area can give you access to upcoming listings and auctions that might not be widely advertised.
  • Auction houses – These can be a good source for finding physical auctions where you can inspect the storage units firsthand.
  • eBay – eBay occasionally lists storage units for auction, typically from storage companies conducting online clear-outs.

This directory should serve as a starting point for both new and experienced bidders looking to explore the world of storage auctions. Whether you're searching for a new storage unit or hoping to uncover hidden treasures in abandoned storage, these resources can guide you to successful bidding experiences.

Risks and pitfalls of storage auctions

illustration of man dissapointed by box of bad storage items

Participating in storage auctions, while exciting, comes with its own set of risks and pitfalls. Here are some common challenges you might face and how to avoid them:

  • Overbidding – It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of an auction and spend more than you need to. Always set a price limit before the auction starts and stick to it to avoid overbidding.
  • Misjudging value – Some items may look valuable at a glance but turn out to be of little worth. Proper research can help you make more educated bids.
  • Hidden costs – Winning a bid is just the first step. Remember that you might also be responsible for cleaning out the unit and disposing of unwanted items, which can incur additional costs. Be sure to factor in these potential expenses when setting your budget.
  • Legal issues – Sometimes, storage units may contain items that are illegal to possess or sell. Familiarize yourself with the laws regarding the sale and possession of certain types of goods to avoid legal troubles.
  • Transport – You'll need to consider the logistics of transporting and storing your purchases. Plan ahead to manage these logistics efficiently.

On the hunt for self storage in London? We got you!

Hold Self Storage facility

We hope you enjoyed our article on self storage auctions in the UK. You should now be well-prepared to go hunting for those hidden gems. And if you're seeking self storage options, few can hold a candle to our HOLD's Kings Cross facility. Whether business and household storage? Check. Climate-controlled units? Check. Great customer service, competitively priced, and advanced security? Triple check. We cover every base. Contact us today for a free quote or to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to buy abandoned storage units in the UK?

These are often organised by storage companies when a unit has been abandoned or the rent has gone unpaid. Additionally, it's a good idea to contact local storage providers to inquire about auctions or units between collections.

How do I find local storage auctions?

You can find local storage auctions by checking the websites of storage facilities in your area, subscribing to auction platforms like Storage Bidder, or contacting local storage providers directly. Most storage companies are forthcoming with information on scheduled auctions if you reach out to them.

How much is storage per month in the UK?

On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from £20 to over £200 per month. Most storage units offer different sizes and sometimes climate-controlled options, which can affect the price. Check out our guide on storage prices for more info.

Can you live in a storage locker in the UK?

Living in a storage locker is illegal in the UK. Storage units are designed for property storage only and do not meet the living standards or safety regulations required for accommodation.

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