Storage Container Rental Terms and Conditions That May Increase the Costs

Watch The Small Print!


We recently posted an article about renting shipping containers and elaborated on the things that may impact the rental rate that you are quoted. Here we will point out some common small print items in the rental terms and conditions that you may unknowingly agree to that could increase the rental costs.

The area on the quote that identifies the costs is typically broken into two sections. It will show the monthly costs which include the shipping container rental rate and any optional monthly items available like locks or shelving systems that you may inquire about. These optional monthly items produce high income for the lessors; the larger rental companies set goals for these options that the sales staff must meet.  Often you’re better off supplying the extras on your own. The next section on the quote will include “one-time costs”; this includes the delivery and return freight costs plus any special set up or installation costs that are billed once. In terms of death and taxes, some companies will show you the sales and use tax amounts (if any) and other companies save this for the small print. In some states the sales tax may apply to the one-time costs and use tax may apply to the rental costs. In addition, many local municipalities may charge a sales tax and/or personal property tax in addition to the state taxes.  Make sure that you ask about these amounts upfront and be clear on exactly what the final invoice amounts will be.

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Another item to check is what the invoicing schedule will be, is it calendar month or every four weeks?  Many people think, “what’s the difference in four weeks and a month”, well in a longer term rental, a lot. Consider this, there are 52 weeks in a year or twelve month period, 52 weeks divided by 4 weeks per invoice equals 13 invoices in a 12 month period, or an extra invoice every year. If the quote indicates “every four weeks” then be prepared for an additional invoice to show up in the mail over the course of a year.

Very often the rental terms and conditions indicate that the rent is due 30 days (or four weeks as the case may be) in advance. This means that the first invoice will be rather steep. The first invoice will include the first month rent, the second month rent, the delivery with any other one-time charges and sometimes the return charges. This initial invoice will be due in a short time period like 10 days. After the initial invoice you will be on a normal invoicing schedule where the money will be due in thirty days, still in advance of the rental anniversary date. Speaking of rental anniversary dates, your rent will typically start on the day you take delivery, even if it is at 5:00 pm and the rent ends on the day the container returned back to the lessor’s storage facility.

The quote will also indicate you are responsible for any damage. At delivery make sure you walk around the unit and note any and all existing damage to the unit. If you have a camera, take photographs of each side, detail any existing damage and email the photos to the lessor to end any speculation over “who did it.” Avoid any modifications to the unit; don’t drill holes to mount signs as the cost to repair it by welding the holes closed and repaint the damaged spots will be yours. To avoid cleaning charges at lease termination make sure you clean the unit out including sweeping it, and return the unit in the condition you received it.

Be aware of these items when you are shopping for rental units and discuss them with the lessor upfront so you don’t have surprises when you receive your invoices. We will look at other typical contract terms you need to be aware of in a future article.

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