Woman Speaks Out After Stored Furniture Develops Nasty Mold

A local woman is speaking out about her battle with a New Berlin storage facility. Deana Ritzman says the furniture she put inside a unit at Storage Masters on South Moorland Road developed mold and the business wouldn't do anything to help her. After CBS 58 got involved, the business agreed to help.

Ritzman says she stored her stuff in the unit before going to Army basic training in late 2013. Nine months later, she wanted to take it out again and that's when she noticed the disgusting mold.

"I literally picked up a book case and it disintegrated in my hands, so, that was very disappointing. It was absolutely covered in mold," Ritzman said.

She said she e-mailed the manager at that time, but let the issue go because she had no place to put things and she was being deployed. Ritzman said she tried again last month.

"Said, you know, I've already paid almost $5,200 to store my things here, plus now I have a couple thousand dollars worth of furniture that is unusable. And just asked if they would get rid of the things that were ruined for me. I moved everything else out myself," Ritzman added.

CBS 58 tried talking to the owner and the Chief Operating Officer. He told us he's familiar with Ritzman, she didn't pick a climate controlled unit and they're not responsible for what's in the units.

"Obviously it was my fault for not reading deeply in to the contract," Ritzman said.

Hours later, Ritzman got a call from Storage Master who said they're going to work with her on resolving this.

"They have since said that I had a protection plan that I've been paying for which will pay me out $2,500 and they will also refund the payment that was taken out [yesterday] for $145 and, in addition to that, they are willing to remove my ruined belongings," she said.

The Better Business Bureau has identified seven major factors to consider when renting storage units.

Cost. To make sure you’re paying a reasonable amount, get written estimates from at least three facilities before renting. In addition to a monthly fee, costs can include storage preparation, padding, packing or transportation. There can be extra options, such as electricity, pest control or insurance. Make sure you understand due dates and any minimum time to rent or contract renewal dates. 

Size. What units are available? Is there a maximum weight limit for unit contents? Can you stack stored materials to the unit’s ceiling? 

Climate. Consider the general climate and whether your belongings could be damaged by water or mold. You may want to consider a climate-controlled unit. 

Insurance. Make sure your things are insured for theft, fire or other damage. You may be able to buy insurance from the storage facility or another source. Some homeowners’ policies may cover self-storage. Check with your agent on what is covered. 

Safety. How is the unit secured? Does the door have a lock built in or do you need a heavy-duty padlock? Are there surveillance cameras on the property? Does the facility restrict access to renters or do strangers have access to the property? Is there an emergency phone number you can reach when the facility office is closed? 

Contract. Get everything in writing. Read and understand the contract and payment terms. Make sure the facility can get in touch with you in case there is a problem with your unit or payment. 

Access. What are the hours and any charges for accessing your unit? Is there adequate parking? How close can you park to the unit? Does the facility offer dollies or hand-trucks to help you move your stuff in and out of the unit? Will your belongings fit through the doorway and inside the unit? 

Renters need to pay their bills on time. If you have fees charged to a credit card, check the statement regularly. If your unit is labeled abandoned for nonpayment, your belongings could be put up for auction.

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