Answers to Your Legal Questions Are Hiding in Plain Sight in the TSSA Lease
by Mallory Scott, TSSA
TSSA members frequently reach out to the association staff with what they consider “legal questions” about scenarios involving tenants. We don’t have any attorneys on staff so we can’t give legal advice, but often, just getting instant validation about the way they interpreted something they read in the Goldbook
© from the person on the other end of the phone is what members are looking for. Sometimes, members just want a “quick answer” about what the lease contract says. Many of those straightforward answers are hiding in plain sight within the TSSA lease, where many might not think to look.
Pro tip: There is a lease word index in the TSSA Goldbook
© to help you find just what you’re looking for—look for the tab in the back of the book.
Am I liable if a tenant complains that the contents of his/her unit are damaged due to vermin, flood, fire, theft, etc.?
Paragraph 20, Nonliability and Release for Loss and Injury; and Insurance, states: Lessor is not liable for any loss, damage or cause of action of any nature, including bodily injury and damage of property stored in or transported to or from tenant’s space, regardless of who owns such property and regardless whether the loss or damage is caused in whole or in part by fire, smoke, dust, water, weather, insects, vermin, explosion, utility interruption, equipment malfunction, unexplained disappearance, negligence of lessor or lessor’s agents, theft by others, or any other cause—to the fullest extent allowed by law.
This statement is echoed in Paragraph 27, Indemnity and Subrogation, and again in Paragraph 35(c), Tenant Responsible for Locks, Insurance and Losses.
Does my tenant need to obtain tenant insurance, or do I need to require that they have insured the contents of their unit?
Paragraph 20, Nonliability and Release for Loss and Injury; and Insurance, states: Tenant will purchase fire, theft, and casualty insurance on all of tenant’s property if its value exceeds $1,000. The purpose is to protect Tenant, other tenants, Lessor, and others in the event of loss by theft, damage, fire, flood, explosion, natural disaster, or other harm caused by weather, accident, or negligence of such parties or their animals.
Tenant will self-insure all contents not covered by tenant’s insurance. Self-insurance means that Tenant will bear the entire risk of loss in the event of damage or loss to such contents from crime, casualty or other harm or loss listed above. Lessor does not and legally cannot carry insurance on the contents of Tenant’s space.
Can I enter a tenant’s unit if there is an emergency or if I need to make repairs inside a unit?
Paragraph 18, Lessor’s Right of Entry, states: Lessor may enter the space under any of the following circumstances:
1. Lessor has express written or oral authority from Tenant to enter;
2. Lessor reasonably believes there is an “emergency,” including without limitation an imminent danger or health hazard to persons or property because of danger of fire or water damage, broken doors, broken locking mechanisms, ammunition, spoiled food, carcasses, volatile chemicals, or fuel not in containers approved by Lessor. Lessor will promptly notify Tenant after entry for emergency purposes;
3. Lessor has reasonable grounds to believe that criminal activity is occurring in the space;
4. Lessor has made written request to Tenant for access to the space for relocation of contents after casualty loss or for inspection, repair, or improvement, and Tenant has failed to provide such access at the time and date requested, which may be no sooner than 7 days from the sending of such request; or
5. Lessor is exercising Lessor’s lien under paragraph 24. Otherwise, Lessor may not enter the space.
Am I liable if my security camera or gate isn’t functioning for a period of time? What temperature is considered “climate controlled”?
Paragraph 15, No Warranties, states: No express or implied warranties are given by Lessor. Lessor disclaims and Tenant waives any implied warranties of suitability, merchantability, security, safety, or fitness for a particular purpose.
Lessor does not promise safety or security of persons or property on the premises, and Lessor has no duty of safety or security of same under any circumstances. Video cameras may be non-operational or unmonitored. Access control devices may be unmonitored and may occasionally malfunction.
If your unit is climate controlled
, climate controlled for the purposes of this lease means that Lessor will use reasonable efforts to avoid temperature extremes in a unit by keeping the unit warmer than the outside temperature in cold weather, and cooler than the outside temperature in hot weather, through HVAC or other system. As with any mechanical system, it is subject to failure or malfunction. The facility makes no representations regarding humidity control or safety of contents stored in the unit.
If I want to terminate a tenant’s contract and ask them to vacate, how much notice am I required to give?
Paragraph 9, Termination and Move-Out Notice, states: Lessor may terminate this Agreement by providing written notice to Tenant 15 days in advance of termination. If the space is substantially damaged due to fire, windstorm, or other casualty in Lessor’s sole judgment, Lessor may terminate this Agreement by emailing, mailing or hand delivering 5 days advance written notice of termination to Tenant. Lessor may terminate this Agreement sooner under paragraphs 24(4) and/or 25. Tenant may not holdover after termination of possession or termination of the lease by Lessor.
The police are requesting access to a tenant’s unit. Can I let them inside a unit?
Paragraph 19, Law Enforcement Directives, states: Upon presentation of a search warrant by a health or law officer, Lessor may open the space or allow such officer to open the space for inspection by such officer; and such officer may lock the space (if the space is lockable) but is not required to do so.
When can I safely consider a unit abandoned?
Paragraph 26, Abandonment, states: Tenant has “abandoned” the storage space if ALL of the following occur: (a) Tenant has given Lessor written or oral move-out notice; (b) Tenant’s lock has been removed from the space (if the space is lockable) by someone other than Lessor; and (c) the move-out date or termination date has expired.
Tenant also has “abandoned” the storage space if ALL of the following occur: (a) Tenant has not paid rent or other sums due; (b) Tenant’s lock has been removed (if the space is lockable) by someone other than Lessor OR has been removed by Lessor when exercising a statutory seizure; (c) Tenant’s space contains nothing of value to the ordinary person.
My tenant moved out in the middle of the month and wants a refund. Do I have to provide a refund?
Paragraph 28, Refunds, states: Tenant must satisfy paragraph 38 for refunds. Unless a longer period of time is stated in an addendum or in supplemental rules at the time of signing, Tenant is liable for rent for the remainder of the month of move-out or for 10 days after move-out, whichever is longer.
Paragraph 38, Refunds and Moveouts, states: Unless an addendum to the Rental Agreement provides otherwise, conditions for refunding prepaid rent and deposit are as follows:
1. Tenant must give Lessor 10 days written move-out notice;
2. Tenant must give Lessor written notice of actual move-out within 24 hours after moving out;
3. Tenant’s lock (if any) must be removed on or before move-out date; or if the lock belongs to Lessor, the lock must be returned to Lessor;
4. Tenant must not leave trash in the space, halls, or driveways;
5. Tenant much stay minimum term length in paragraph 3; and
6. Tenant must be current in all obligations at time of move-out.
Do I have to give my tenants notice when I want to increase their rent? If so, how much notice should I give?
Paragraph 30, Rules and Agreements, states: Lessor may change any part of this Agreement, including rental rate, due date, late charge dates, and charges listed in paragraph 4 by hand delivering to Tenant, or providing written notice to Tenant via any method of written contact provided by Tenant at least 30 days prior to the effective date
of the changes.
Sometimes, when searching for an answer to your question, your best bet is to go directly to the source—in this case, the TSSA lease. It contains many of the answers to the most frequently asked questions. Strange scenarios will pop up from time to time, and those may warrant a bigger conversation. Please feel free to reach out to TSSA at 888-259-4902 or email@example.com if you have questions that are out of the ordinary…or if you just need validation that you are on the right track.
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