Self-storage facilities dot the landscapes of Northern Colorado. Folks rent units to empty overflowing basements; to stash furnishings while moving or remodeling; or to store business supplies for future use. While most facilities are operated by reputable businesses, the Better Business Bureau recommends checking out the business carefully before handing over your belongings.

In the last 12 months, Northern Colorado and Wyoming Better Business Bureau received more than 1,000 inquiries and four complaints against storage units. BBB recommends understanding fully the following seven elements of renting a storage unit:

Cost. Obtain written cost estimates from at least three facilities. Costs to consider include the monthly rental fee (usually a minimum monthly storage charge and a minimum number of month’s rental); storage preparation, padding, packing or transportation fees; and fees for extra options (electricity, pest control, insurance). Ask how the fees are to be paid and by what date.

Size. What size storage units are available? Is there a maximum weight limit for unit contents? Or can you jam-pack the entire unit from floor to ceiling?

Climate. Consider the general climate and whether your belongings might be subject to mold or water damage. If so, you may want to consider an environmentally controlled unit.

Insurance. Make sure your items are insured from theft, fire or other damage. The facility may provide basic insurance or you can purchase insurance from an alternate source. Check with your insurance agent to find out if your homeowners’ policy already covers self-storage.

Safety. Use a heavy-duty, secure lock to protect your storage unit. Ask if the facility has surveillance cameras on the property and if a system is in place to restrict access by strangers. Ask for contact information in case of an emergency, both during and after business hours.

Contract. Get everything in writing, including size and location of the unit, options, termination regulations, insurance coverage and payment terms (last thing you want is to have your storage unit labeled “abandoned” and put up for auction). Make sure the facility knows how to get in touch with you should there be issues with your unit or payment.

Access. What are the hours and related charges for accessing your unit? Is there adequate room for parking and is the distance from your car/truck to the rental unit acceptable? Does the facility offer dollies or hand trucks to help you move your belongings in and out?

Start With Trust. For trustworthy consumer tips and information, visit wynco.bbb.org or call 970-484-1348 or 800-564-0371.