Rented Self Storage Facilities Could Help Lead the UK’s Fight Back From Recession

New-build British houses often don’t have enough space for storage, to entertain friends or for children to play according to the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.

47% of those surveyed said their homes couldn’t accommodate all their furniture and 35% said their kitchens had no room for even appliances like toasters.

Although nowadays rented self-storage facilities are becoming more visible on the edges of UK towns and cities they have not reached levels of use that exist in the USA, where one in seven US households rents space. In the UK the figure is one in 100.

More men than women use them. 56% of customers are make while 38% are female and of customers around 60% of them use rented self-storage for house moves. Soldiers account for 4% of US self storage customers because they tend to store their belongings while deployed overseas, although there are no comparable figures for the UK.

People using rented self storage also tend to be fairly youthful. A large proportion of storage renters are 20-plus people trying to pay off student loans and get on the career track before getting tied down with a mortgage. But there’s a growing trend to customers renting storage units to carry out their businesses.

As the global recession grinds on and many people lose their jobs some of them turn hobbies into businesses or start up a business based on an idea they have had for some years but not developed because they were already employed.

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Most small traders and entrepreneurs will initially run their new business from home. But when the business outgrows the garage or the spare bedroom the option of renting in a purpose-built business unit may be too costly at this stage so many turn to using a unit in a self-store rental facility.

It’s much cheaper than office space, it’s clean, aired, dry and well-lit and the premises are secure. If you don’t mind a lack of windows it’s a useful interim location while building a business, whether it is one that requires desk, chair, telephone and computer only, or one where space is needed for small-scale manufacture or a repairs business.

And of course, once the business outgrows the space the office function can move on while the rented storage can still be used for stock, parts or machinery.

Starting in the 1990s the trend has developed to the point where now, in 2010, it accounts for around a third of the UK industry’s rented storage space.

Among those enterprises the writer has come across that are taking advantage of self store units are a man who has turned his hobby breeding budgies into a fill-scale business selling bird fancying equipment.

We also found a ballerina based in London who could not afford to rent a practice studio at £30 per hour, so set up her practice barre in a self-store unit.

There are units being used to run martial arts classes and in Southampton an enterprising group of wheelchair users uses its unit for repairing rusty, broken and otherwise damaged wheelchairs for other users.

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Other possibilities are bicycle repairs or component assembly. Small scale industries that don’t use any toxic materials but ones that are clean and non-perishable could use rented storage space for a start-up.

The writer consulted staff at a Suffolk, UK, self store facility and discovered that there is nothing in the general contract to prevent people from using their units for such purposes.

They are cheap, clean, well-ventilated and secure.

Since the onset of the global economic recession it has been said repeatedly that the UK is less well-placed to recover because its industrial and manufacturing base has been allowed to shrink to just 16% of the country’s economy in comparison to the financial and other services that make up the majority of UK business.

Currently it is also becoming clear that raising the finance for a new business or innovative idea is a lot harder than it was and likely to remain so. Anything that can keep costs down is therefore welcome and who knows, perhaps the rental self-store industry will one day prove to have been instrumental in helping the country’s industrial and manufacturing base to grow again.

Copyright (c) 2010 Alison Withers