Man loses decades worth of memories due to forgotten rent at storage facility.

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"This is all my mom's stuff. This is my mom's living room and this is where we have all our formal family functions." Richard Hillman says when he lost his job he also lost his home and had to move in with his mom. As a result, he put all of his belongs in a storage facility in Phoenix.

"A couple months ago I had fallen way behind, and I went in and made a big payment and let them know it would be another 45 days or so before I would be able to pay them again." Richard admits it was hard keeping up with the storage rent, falling only two months behind this time.

However, when he finally had enough money to get caught up he was shocked at what he found. "We walked outside and sure enough there is a new lock on the storage unit and it was empty."

It was empty because Public Storage auctioned off the entire contents in Richard's unit, and it is something they have every right to do. In fact, in the contract Richard signed it says that if he was late, then after 30 days his personal property may be sold. "And so, 30 years of stuff is gone, everything of mine, everything of my kids. Everything, the whole house is gone."

3 On Your Side contacted Public Storage, which sent us a written statement saying, "A sale of a customer's goods by public auction is the last resort for us in dealing with customers who have defaulted."

3 On Your Side learned that auctioning off storage units is pretty common, so 3 On Your Side went to one auction at a valley storage facility to see exactly how it worked. The auction starts off by opening up a unit that is behind in rent, and then consumers take a glimpse inside to see what is available. Then, if you are interested in the unit’s contents, you bid on it.

For example, 3 On Your Side watched as the entire contents of one storage unit were auctioned off for just over $100. For Richard, he says it is going to be difficult to start over and hopes his situation is one that others can learn from.

Read the contract very carefully because the storage facility will hold you to that 30 day deal. Storage facilities say they make every attempt to retrieve photos, legal documents and anything personal before auctioning off a unit. They also tell the bidder that if they come across personal items, to return them so they can get them back to the rightful owner.