The Language of Self Storage

By Anna Roberts

Published 10 months ago

Share article

Twitter X Logo

Demystifying the Terminology

As with all industries across the world, the self storage industry is no exception when it comes to having its own lingo/language/terminology. To help make sense of the conversations and agreements you may have with sorting out your self storage, below is a list of the most widely used words and phrases:


Access hours refers to the specific time frame during which customers or tenants of a self-storage facility are allowed to enter the premises and access their individual storage units.

ANPR This acronym stands for Automatic Number Plate Recognition and is a technology used to automatically read and capture licence number plate information from vehicles.

Auction/storage auction refers to a process where the contents of a storage unit are sold to the public when the tenant of the unit has failed to pay the rent or is in default of their storage agreement. When a customer significantly falls behind on their payments, the self-storage facility has the right to recoup the unpaid rent by selling the contents of the unit to recover their losses.


Boat storage refers to a service provided by facilities where boat owners can safely and securely store their boats when not in use.

Business storage This type of storage solution is specifically designed to meet the needs of business and commercial enterprises.  It is a secure and flexible way to store goods, inventory, equipment, documents, etc.


Car storage This is safe and secure storage for cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other motorised vehicles. It ranges from indoor spaces with climate-control, trickle charge for batteries, and valet services, to outdoor spaces and secure compounds.

Caravan storage refers to the safe and secure storage spaces for caravans, motorhomes, and camper trailers. This form of storage can be both indoors or outdoors. The facilities often have wide-access aisles for easy manoeuvring. With indoor storage you get protection from rain, snow and UV exposure. Some caravan storage operators offer maintenance services, such tyre checks, and battery charging. 

Climate-controlled This type of storage is used to protect sensitive items, such as electronics, documents, wine, collectibles, books, from temperature fluctuations and humidity.

Container This is typically a large, portable storage unit. They are made of sturdy materials, such as steel or weather-resistant materials, and are designed to protect the stored items from theft and the elements. This is the type of container used by sea vessels, to transport goods around the world and is therefore very robust.

Covered boat storage WIth this type of storage, boats are parked under a roofed structure, providing some protection from the rain, snow and direct sunlight. This is usually less expensive than indoor storage but offers more protection than outdoor storage.

Cut lock The term "cut lock" is commonly used in self-storage to refer to the act of cutting off a tenant's lock, typically due to nonpayment or abandonment of the unit.


Delivery and pick-up services These services are often offered with business storage, making it easier for businesses to transport their goods to and from storage.

Deposit A deposit is typically a sum of money paid upfront by the tenant as a form of security for the storage facility. This deposit, also known as a security deposit, is used to cover any potential costs incurred by the storage provider due to the tenant's actions. These costs could include damages to the storage unit beyond normal wear and tear, unpaid rent, or any other costs outlined in the rental agreement.

Drive-up access This is the ability to drive a vehicle right up to the door of your storage unit. It is very helpful when needing to store heavy, bulky or large items.

Dry stack boat storage This type of boat storage is commonly used for smaller boats. It involves storing the boats on specially designed racks, in a covered or enclosed storage area. The boats are lifted in and out of the water using machinery, when the owner wants to store or use them.


Facility This refers to a building or establishment equipped to serve the self storage industry.

Facility manager   This is a professional responsible for overseeing the operation, maintenance, and management of a storage facility. 

Flexible unit sizes  Often referred to when using business storage facilities, these range in various sizes from small lockers, to large warehouse-type spaces.


Gate code This is a numeric or alphanumeric combination, used to gain access to a secured area through a gate or entry point. A gate code is assigned to the customer/tenant. This code is entered on a keypad or electronic access device, at the entrance of the facility. The system verifies the entered gate code against a list of authorised codes in its database. If the code is correct, the gate or entry point opens.


Holding keys agreement/Key holding agreement  This is the term given to an contractual arrangement made between a facility operator/manager and the customer/tenant.The agreement grants the operator/key holder permission to retain and safeguard a set of keys to the storage space.

Home storage  More commonly referred to as portable storage or mobile storage, this is a business model where a company delivers a storage container to your home.  You fill it in at your convenience, and then the company picks it up and transports it to a storage facility, or it can be kept on your property.


Indoor boat storage This refers to a type of boat storage where boats are stored inside a covered (and usually enclosed) facility, to protect it from the elements. It offers the highest level of protection against the weather, dust, dirt, UV radiation and potential external damage.  These storage facilities can range from large warehouses, to individual storage units similar to a garage. They can also offer additional services such as maintenance, preparation for the boating season, and winterizing.

Indoor room These is an indoor storage space or unit that is fully enclosed. It offers the highest level of protection from weather conditions and potential theft, and is generally the most expensive option.

Indoor self storage This term refers to self storage units that are housed inside a facility.


Key fob access  This is a security measure used in many self storage facilities. A key fob is a small, portable device that uses wireless technology, often radio frequency (RFID) to interact with a reader to unlock gates and doors.


Late fee    This is a charge that is added to the tenant's account when their rent payment is not received by the due date specified in the rental agreement.  The purpose of the late fee is to encourage timely payment and to compensate the storage facility for any inconvenience and administrative costs associated with the late payments.

Lead   A '8lead' typically refers to a potential customer who has expressed an interest in renting self storage.

Lock Up  The term lock up typically refers to a storage unit that is rented to tenants for storing their personal belongings or business items.  These units come in various sizes and can be located indoors, or out.

Locker storage  This typically refers to a small storage unit, and usually for storing smaller items or a few boxes.

Locking mechanism  In the self storage industry, a locking mechanism refers to the device or system used to secure a storage unit and prevent unauthorised access.  These mechanisms can vary from padlocks, biometric locks, combination locks, electronic, cylinder or disc locks.


Man with a van In the UK, this service refers to a small-scale moving or courier service, typically consisting of a small truck or van, a driver, and possibly extra help. 

Manager on site In the self-storage industry, a "manager on site" refers to a staff member, typically the manager or a similarly high-ranking employee, who is physically present at the storage facility during business hours.

Migration Also known as customer migration, this is the term given to a customer moving the items of one storage unit to another, usually within the same facility. The reason for migration could be that the customer requires a larger unit, or has decided to reduce the number of items stored, and so a smaller unit would be more practical.

Mobile storage This is a service that delivers storage containers to your business or home, which you can then pack at your convenience.Once you have packed your container, you can either store it at home for easy access, or the container will be transported to a storage facility for you.

Move-in In the self storage industry, this refers to the process of a customer beginning their rental contract/agreement, and physically moving into their storage unit.

Move-out This is a term used when a customer moves out of a storage unit, and closes their rental contract/agreement.

Moving supplies refers to a range of boxes, crates, packing tape, etc. used for storing items in readiness for going into storage.


Outdoor boat storage This involves parking the boat on an open, uncovered lot within the storage facility. This tends to be more affordable but provides less protection from the elements.

Outdoor self storage typically refers to storage units that are located outside and have direct exterior access. This is in contrast to "indoor storage" units, which are located inside a building.

Overlock In the self-storage industry, "overlock" is a term used to refer to an additional lock that the facility management places on a storage unit, usually because of non-payment of rent or other breaches of the rental agreement by the tenant.


Packing materials is another term for the boxes, crates, packing tape, etc, used when getting items ready for storing.

Pest control This is carried out by storage facility operators, to ensure the sites and facilities are free of vermin and pests.

Pitch and stay Used with regards to caravan, motorhomes, and camping trailer storage, it is a service offered by official camping sites, whereby customers can pitch their vehicle for their holiday, and leave it in situ for storage year round..

Pod This is a type of portable storage container. The pod is delivered to your location, packed by yourself or the company, then either stored on your property, or transported to a self storage facility.


Rental agreement/lease  This is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of renting a storage unit or space.

Rental fee  This is the amount of money charged by the storage facility for the use of a self storage unit/space, for a specific period of time.  Typically they are due monthly but can also be structured for longer-term payments, such as annually or quarterly, depending on the terms of the rental agreement/contract

Rental truck/lorry  A vehicle that can be rented by the customer to transport items, furniture, etc from one location to another.

Removal services, also known as moving services, refers to the service carried out by professional companies to help individuals to relocate belongings from one location to another.  These cover either local or long-distance removals.

Reservation refers to an agreement made by a customer to rent a specific storage unit/space at a future date.  It is a way of making sure a specific type of unit of a particular size will be available when the customer needs it.

Right of lien, pronounced lee-uhn, refers to the legal right of the storage facility to hold or sell a tenant's belongings due to non-payment of rent or other fees.  It is the storage facility's right to retain the stored property until the debt is paid.  If the debt remains unpaid for a specific time, the facility may be allowed to sell the stored goods to recover unpaid rent.

Roll-up door  This is a door that opens by rolling up vertically into a coil above the door opening.  It is a common type of door used within self storage facilities because of its space-saving design.


Security deposit  This is an amount of money paid by the tenant before they start using the storage unit/space. It acts as a form of security for the storage facility in case of damages to the unit during the tenant's rental period, or in case the tenant fails to pay their rent.

Security measures This term refers to a range of security features such as 24/ surveillance, access control systems, and secure locks to ensure safety.

Self storage This is a service provided by businesses that rent out space/units to individuals and businesses. These units are used to store personal belongings, business inventory, boats, documents, vehicles, wine, household goods, and more.

Self storage facility This is a commercial property offering storage space/units/lockers for rent to individuals and businesses.  

Storage lockers These are smaller-sized storage units typically used for storing smaller items, such as personal documents, small pieces of furniture and other relatively small belongings.

Storage operator This is a professional individual or company that owns or manages a self storage facility. Their role typically involves renting out storage units/space/lockers to individuals or businesses for the purpose of storing belongings, furniture, business inventory, vehicles, boats, and other items.


Tenant  A tenant is an individual or business who rents a storage unit/locker or space at a self storage facility. The tenant signs a rental agreement, agreeing to pay a specified rental fee for the use of the storage space for a set amount of time.

Trickle charging is a method of charging a battery at a slow, steady rate equal to its self-discharge rate, allowing the battery to stay at its fully charged level. This type of charging system is used to maintain a battery's charge over prolonged periods of inactivity, and it helps to extend the battery's lifespan.


Unit  This term is used to describe an individual storage space rented out to customers. They are typically enclosed spaces with walls and a door for access.  They come in a range of sizes to accommodate different storage needs.

Unit size In the self storage industry the term '8unit size' refers to the dimensions of an individual storage space, or unit, available for rent at a storage facility.  The size can be described in terms of its length, width and height, in feet or metres, or by its square footage.


Vehicle storage This type of storage refers to secure locations for placing a vehicle for an extended length of time. These can be in indoor or outdoor facilities. Some of these facilities offer extra services such as valeting, and trickle charge.


Warehouse  A warehouse in the self storage industry is a large, commercial building used for storing goods.  These goods are often stored in designated units, or spaces within the warehouse, that are rented out to individuals or businesses.  Other items that can be stored in warehouses are vehicles, boats, film and theatre props and stage settings, etc.

Wine storage  This is the provision of specialised storage units or lockers designed specifically to store wine bottles.  These facilities maintain optimal conditions for wine preservation, which includes consistent and appropriate temperature, humidity levels, and lighting conditions.

24hr access

24hr access This is the ability of tenants to access their rented storage units/spaces at any time of the day or night. It means that the storage facility is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no restrictions on access hours.

Still confused?

No worries! Just get in touch and our Explorage Team will be only too happy to help!

Telephone: 0800 098 8864 | Email: | Website Live Chat:

Share article

Twitter X Logo

Comments 0

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a Comment

Please sign in or register to leave a comment.

Related articles