Monday, May 05, 2014

50% Yearly Storage Space Rent Increase In Gowanus? Yup, That Sounds Reasonable

The alarming rise in rents here in Brooklyn over the last few years has been a topic of conversation all over the borough. A simple one bedroom apartment has become unaffordable in many of our neighborhoods.  But the rental of a different kind of real estate seems to increase in even larger increments, percentage wise.  Many New Yorkers who rent storage units to house the belongings that don't fit into their tiny apartments get burned by huge increases after a relatively short period. Obviously, the owners of storage facilities know that they are gouging a captive audience.  Who has the time and energy to move their belongings from one facility to another simply to keep cost down?

The reason I mention this is because my son Max was recently informed by Extra Space Storage at 312 Third Avenue in Gowanus that the fee for his unit was going up for the second time in just one year.  In all, the rental has gone up just short of 50% since last March.

He posted the following Yelp review to warn others away from the place.  (His is not the only negative posting.)
"This storage facility PRICE GOUGES!
After being an Extra Space customer for a year without complaints, I'm very disappointed to have to be giving them a negative review.

Upon signing up for the unit, I was told to expect modest rate increases of five to ten dollars every 6 months.  Sure enough, 6 months later my rate increased by ten dollars a month from $128 to $138. I wasn't thrilled - but I was expecting it and it seemed par for the course.

However, now at the 12 month mark I received notice of a nearly SEVENTY DOLLAR PRICE INCREASE, bringing the monthly total to $206, eighty dollars more than when I had signed up a year earlier.
I called Extra Space customer service to dispute the increase and was told that regional offices sometimes increase prices dramatically when they need empty units to sell to new customers. Large price hikes when demand is higher than supply? Sounds like price gouging to me.

Further, a representative at the local office refused to transfer me to someone from upper management that might be able to help with my problem. Apparently it's their policy that customers cannot speak to anyone capable of making a decision.

Shame on Extra Space for trying to maximize profit by screwing their customers. I paid every bill on time and would not have balked at another modest ten dollar rent increase - but a 50% hike is a different story.
As far as the storage space and the facilities, I have no complaints. The hallways were always clean, it seemed secure and the employees were helpful as long as they don't have their hand in your pocket.

However, none of this excuses such poor business practices. I believe they're banking on the fact that their customers don't have the time or energy to move their belongings to avoid steep rate increase. I know I'd certainly prefer not to, but I also won't stand by and be taken advantage of.

If someone from the Extra Space management wants to make this right, I'd love to hear from you."

So, pardon me for asking, but is a 50% yearly increase for storage units a common thing here in Brooklyn, or is Extra Space Storage exceptionally brazen?  Can anyone recommend a better, more reasonable option in and around Gowanus/ Brooklyn?


Anonymous said...

What is wrong with this? If you don't like the price, move your stuff somewhere else, oh wait, there are no other good places till Sunset Park.

Should we have rent control for storage spaces now?

Someone failed Econ 101.

Anonymous said...

My suggestion is have less stuff. Unless you are in transition (moving, temporary housing, etc), storage space is unnecessary. Time to be less nostalgic and do some spring cleaning.

Katia said...

He will most probably look for a more affordable place. The point is that it is a hell of an increase and that the business definitely is taking advantage of the customers it already has.

As far as getting rid of stuff so that there is no need for storage in the first place, I agree, but in the case of my son and many freelancers, it is for storing equipment.

Reluctant Outlaw said...

A storage unit has been essential for me since the day I moved into my teeny CG apartment. I have spare furniture and pictures and dishes, and I switch them out from time to time for a fresh feel. My photos and memorabilia -- nothing more fun than dragging them to the apartment every now and again for a go through. Old tax docs. Camping equipment. And it is nice not to trip over my bike all winter. Storage does not have to be "stuff" -- it can be your beloved spare room. I was gouged big time over many years at the outdoor unit on 9th and was too lazy to move from my space. Finally moved to indoor space at Uhaul on 4th for a big savings, and although the rates are creeping up, I wouldn't call it gouging.

Anonymous said...

Ah, we get to see mayor deBlasio's "affordable-housing-plan" in action here. DeBlasio gave us the mixed-use with affordable-housing-bonus zoning on Bond Street; and now that the Big NJ Developer, Lightstone, is building that "affordable" housing; rents for everything are going up. This month renters along Bond street saw their apartment rents go up more than $200 a month in anticipation of the rental fees expected at Lightstone's affordable housing facility.

There just is no basis to believe that large scale development like deBlasio has already granted along Bond Street will do anything but make the area less, and less affordable.

bored at work said...

Its called capitalism. They can charge what the market will bear.
If you dont have an agreement that locks in the price for a certain period, then they can raise the rent to whatever they want. Don't like it, move your stuff. Its not gouging. Here is how New York defines gouging (per the Attorney General):

New York State’s Price Gouging Law (General Business Law § 396-r) prohibits merchants from taking unfair advantage of consumers by selling goods or services for an "unconscionably excessive price" during an "abnormal disruption of the market," which would include Hurricane Sandy. The price gouging law covers New York State vendors, retailers and suppliers, including but not limited to supermarkets, gas stations, hardware stores, bodegas, delis, and taxi and livery cab drivers.