Reporting Kurtis Ming
CBS13 (CARMICHAEL) — Putting her important belongings into a self storage unit was tough enough for Laurie Mendoza, a senior and a victim of foreclosure, she said.
“I never expected this. Never,” she said, wearing coveralls and a well-worn dust mask.
After losing her home and her dog, Mendoza opened her Public Storage unit several months ago to find many of her life belongings destroyed by rodents.
When she said the storage company wouldn’t do anything about it, she called Kurtis.
After paying Public Storage almost $400 a month for several units, she said the owners won’t keep her stuff safe from rodents.
“It’s nasty,” she said.
In baskets, clothing and even her son’s baby blanket.
“They chewed it up,” she said. “I guess they had their babies in it.”
She said they even ruined her favorite chairs — the only furniture she had left from her home.
And CBS13 spotted a dead rodent, rotting away just inside the door.
“When I saw the droppings and everything else I just started ripping things apart, you know what I mean?”
Afraid of getting the Hanta Virus, Mendoza won’t even go inside without putting on a dust mask.
She said she’s not asking for Public Storage to pay for the damage, but said they refuse to refund her any of the $2,800 she said she’s paid them over a 7-month span.
“I guess I’ve just paid public storage money for nothing,” she said.
“An ordinary consumer would have an expectation that if she left her goods in a storage unit, they would be taken care of,” said property law professor John Sprankling, who read Public Storage’s lease agreement.
He zeroed in on a section saying Public Storage will “have no responsibility to occupant for any loss, liabilty, claim, expense, damage to property…. from any cause.”
“They have to protect your stuff, unless you’ve waived that protection in the agreement,” he said.
Unless Public Storage is willing to help, it may take a court to interpet if she’s owed anything.
Public Storage executive and spokesperson Shawn Weidmann ignored all our calls and messages, before his assistant told us, “He got your message,” and wouldn’t be responding. Public Storage District Manager Jon Rader declined comment as well.
Public Storage is a member of the National Self Storage Association, which told CBS13 it expects members to maintain facilities and address problems like rodents. But it didn’t think Public Storage owed Mendoza anything for damage from rats.
“I don’t know how to keep my things safe anymore,” Mendoza said.
Desperate for help, Mendoza said she’s moving into a cleaner unit for now until she can afford to move it all somewhere else.
“There’s not much I can do, is there?” she said. “Except to just keep going forward.”
A rodent problem could fall under a nuisance law, enforced by county code enforcement.
Sacramento County said unless it hears from more people, it won’t get involved.
Most of the storage locations offer insurance coverage for an additional cost, but generally only cover up to $5,000 or $10,000, which may not cover everything you own.