By Ritehly Quimbo. Posted on October 16th, 2023 in Self Storage Article.

In 2024, the UK self-storage industry is predicted to reach an annual turnover of £1 billion.

Storage unit auctions have emerged as an exciting and captivating venture for individuals seeking hidden treasures and unique finds.

The allure lies in the anticipation of discovering valuable items within the contents of storage units that have been abandoned or forfeited.

This article delves into the captivating world of storage unit auctions, shedding light on the process, offering tips, and recounting remarkable stories of unexpected riches.



What is a storage auction?

A storage auction is a public sale where the contents of storage units are sold to the highest bidder due to non-payment or abandonment by the original renter.

How Storage Unit Auctions Work

The total available self-storage space in the UK is 50 million square feet, spread across 1,997 facilities.

Storage unit auctions typically occur when tenants fail to pay rent for their rented storage spaces. The storage facility then puts the unit’s contents up for auction to recover the unpaid fees. Auction attendees have the chance to bid on the entire contents of the unit, often without knowing exactly what’s inside. The highest bidder wins the unit and gains ownership of all the items within.

Navigating this process involves understanding the auction logistics, legal aspects, and strategies to bid effectively. It’s crucial to familiarize oneself with the rules and regulations to ensure smooth and lawful participation.

See also: Unlocking the Mystery: How Does Self Storage Work?


The Appeal of Storage Unit Auctions

The fascination surrounding storage unit auctions stems from the thrill and adventure they offer. The uncertainty of what lies within a unit creates an adrenaline rush for bidders. Every unit is like a mystery waiting to be unraveled, with the potential of discovering hidden treasures.

Aside from the excitement, there’s a genuine chance of finding valuable items within the units. From antique furniture to collectibles and forgotten valuables, each unit can hold surprises that may be lucrative.

Tips for Navigating Storage Unit Auctions

Participation in storage unit auctions requires adequate preparation and a well-thought-out strategy. Researching the auction process, understanding the estimated value of various items, and setting a budget are crucial steps. It’s essential to have a game plan in place to make informed decisions during the bidding process.

Additionally, assessing a unit’s condition and looking for signs of potential value or red flags is essential. Experience and knowledge play a vital role in making successful bids.

What to Look for in a Storage Unit

When attending storage unit auctions, keen observation is key. Look for value indicators such as sealed boxes, well-kept furniture, or labeled containers. These signs often suggest that the unit might contain valuable items.

Conversely, signs of neglect or disorganization might indicate a less promising find. Staying observant and having a discerning eye can make a significant difference in choosing the right unit to bid on.

See also: What is Self Storage Used For?

Stories of Remarkable Finds

Many storied tales circulate within the storage unit auction community, recounting unexpected and valuable discoveries. From antique heirlooms to valuable collectibles, individuals have stumbled upon hidden treasures that have transformed their lives. These stories testify to the potential and excitement that storage unit auctions offer.

The Dark Side of Storage Unit Auctions

Amidst the allure and adventure of storage unit auctions, it’s essential to acknowledge the ethical aspects. Some may argue that bidding on abandoned items raises ethical concerns, as these belongings once held value and meaning for someone. Additionally, the pressure to outbid others can sometimes lead to overspending or impulsive decisions.

Participants need to balance their enthusiasm with a sense of responsibility and respect for the previous owners of the items.

What kinds of storage auctions are available in the United Kingdom?

Storage auctions in the United Kingdom are similar to those in other countries, where the contents of storage units are auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Here are the common types of storage auctions in the UK:

Traditional Storage Unit Auctions

These auctions involve bidding on the entire contents of a storage unit. The units are typically auctioned when the renter has failed to pay for an extended period. Bidders have the opportunity to view the contents from outside the unit before placing their bids.

Online Storage Unit Auctions

Some storage facilities in the UK use online platforms to conduct auctions. Bidders can view photos and descriptions of the unit’s contents online and place bids from their homes.

Government and Police Auctions

Occasionally, government agencies or the police may auction off seized or unclaimed storage units. These auctions can include various items, including electronics, vehicles, furniture, and more.

Liquidation Auctions

Businesses closing down or liquidating their assets may auction off their storage units. These auctions can include office equipment, inventory, and other assets.

Specialized Auctions

Some auctions focus on items like antiques, collectibles, or vehicles. These auctions may include storage units with relevant items.


How can I locate a storage auction?

To locate a storage auction in the United Kingdom, follow these steps:

Online Storage Auction Platforms

Check popular online auction platforms listing upcoming storage auctions. Websites like “iBidOnStorage,” “StorageTreasures,” and “Lockerfox” often have listings for auctions happening in various locations across the UK.

Contact Local Storage Facilities

Contact local storage facilities in your area and nearby cities. Ask if they conduct storage auctions and inquire about their auction schedules. They can provide information on upcoming auctions and how to participate.

Auction Listing Websites

Explore general auction listing websites, such as “AuctionZip” or “Auction News,” which may have listings for storage and other types of auctions. Use location filters to narrow down your search to auctions in the UK.

Local Newspapers and Classifieds

Check local newspapers, community bulletin boards, or online classifieds for announcements or advertisements about upcoming storage auctions in your area. Auction details are often published on these platforms.

Auction Houses and Auctioneers

Contact local auction houses or auctioneers and inquire if they conduct storage unit auctions. They may organize or have information about upcoming auctions in the area.

Join Online Auction Forums or Groups

Look for online forums, discussion groups, or social media communities related to auctions and storage unit purchases. Members often share information about upcoming auctions, locations, and tips for successful bidding.

Attend Auction Events

Attend general auction events in your local area. Sometimes, storage unit auctions are part of larger auction events. Participating in these events lets you network and gather information about upcoming storage auctions.

Networking with Auction Enthusiasts

Connect with individuals interested in auctions and storage unit purchases. They may have valuable insights and information about upcoming auctions that they are willing to share.


What is the process of a storage auction?

Storage auction process

The process of a storage auction involves several steps, from notification of the auction to the actual bidding and winning of storage units. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the typical storage auction process:

    • Notification of Auction: Storage facilities notify the public about upcoming auctions through various means, such as public advertisements, online listings, notifications on their website, or in local newspapers. The notice includes details like date, time, location, and any specific terms related to the auction.
    • Viewing the Storage Units: Potential bidders are usually allowed to view the storage unit’s contents before the auction. This allows bidders to assess the value of the items inside and make informed decisions about how much to bid.
    • Registration and Check-In: On the auction day, participants must register and check in at the auction site. This typically involves providing identification and signing necessary paperwork, which may include agreeing to the auction’s terms and conditions.
    • Introduction and Auctioneer’s Overview: The auctioneer or an auction staff member will provide an introduction and overview of the auction process, explaining the rules, bidding increments, and payment procedures.
    • Auction Bidding: The auctioneer will begin bidding for each storage unit. Bidders raise their hands or signal to place bids on the unit they are interested in. The bidding continues until no more bids are offered.
    • Winning Bid and Payment: The highest bid at the end of the bidding process wins the storage unit. The winning bidder must immediately pay the winning bid amount plus any additional fees, such as taxes or a buyer’s premium. Payment is typically made in cash or via accepted payment methods specified by the auction organizer.
    • Unit Cleanup and Access: After payment, the winning bidder is usually given a limited time (often 24-48 hours) to clean out the contents of the storage unit. The bidder is responsible for removing all items and leaving the unit clean and empty.
    • Disposal of Unsold Units: Any units not bid on or sold may be subject to disposal or auction later.


Key advice for individuals bidding in storage auctions for the first time

For individuals bidding in storage auctions for the first time, here are some key pieces of advice to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience:

Do Your Research

Before attending an auction, research the auction process, rules, and regulations. Understand how storage auctions work, what to expect, and any specific guidelines the auction organizer provides.

Set a Budget

Determine your budget and stick to it. Factor in the bid amount, potential additional fees, and the cost of cleaning the unit. Avoid overbidding and getting caught up in the excitement of the auction.

Inspect Units Thoroughly

Take the time to view the contents of the storage units you are interested in. Assess the quality and condition of items to estimate their value accurately. Consider bringing a flashlight to inspect darker areas of the unit.

Be Punctual and Arrive Early

Arrive at the auction location early to complete registration and get a good spot. Punctuality ensures you have ample time to inspect the units and understand the auction process.

Listen and Observe

Pay attention to the auctioneer’s instructions and announcements. Observe experienced bidders to learn bidding strategies, pacing, and etiquette.

Start Small

For your first few auctions, consider starting with lower-value units to gain experience and confidence in bidding. As you become more familiar with auctions, you can bid on higher-value units.

Ask Questions

Don’t hesitate to ask the auctioneer or staff any questions you may have about the auction process or specific units. It’s important to clarify any doubts before placing a bid.

Be Mindful of Hidden Costs

Consider additional costs like taxes, buyer’s premiums, or fees associated with the auction. Factor these into your budget and bidding decisions.

Be Prepared for Cleanout

Have a plan for promptly removing items from the storage unit after winning the auction. Bring necessary tools and equipment to facilitate the cleanout process.

Network and Learn

Connect with other bidders and experienced individuals at the auction. Networking can provide valuable insights, tips, and guidance for future auctions.

Trust Your Instincts

Trust your judgment and bid on units you believe have value based on your inspection. Avoid bidding impulsively or getting caught up in competitive bidding.

Stay Calm and Composed

Auctions can be fast-paced and intense. Stay calm, composed, and focused on your strategy. Don’t let the pressure affect your bidding decisions.


Guidelines for your visit to a storage facility

When visiting a storage facility for an auction or any other purpose, following certain guidelines is important to ensure a smooth and respectful experience. Here are some guidelines for your visit to a storage facility:

Check Facility Policies in Advance

Review the storage facility’s rules, regulations, and policies before visiting. Familiarize yourself with their hours of operation, access policies, and any specific guidelines regarding visits for auctions or inspections.

Dress Appropriately

Wear appropriate attire for visiting the facility, considering the weather and nature of the activity. Comfortable clothing and closed-toe shoes are usually recommended.

Arrive During Business Hours

Visit the storage facility during regular business hours to ensure you have access to necessary staff and information.

Check-In at the Office

Upon arrival, go to the facility’s office or reception area to sign in, provide identification, and notify the staff of your purpose for the visit. Follow any specific check-in procedures they may have in place.

Respect Privacy and Security

Avoid entering areas that are off-limits to visitors without proper authorization. Respect the privacy and security of other renters and their stored belongings.

Follow Safety Guidelines

Adhere to safety guidelines provided by the facility. This may include rules regarding driving speed, use of elevators, and proper handling of tools or equipment.

Keep Noise Levels Down

Maintain a respectful noise level to avoid disturbing other renters and facility staff. Avoid loud conversations, playing music, or making unnecessary noise.

Be Courteous and Professional

Interact with facility staff, other visitors, and renters courteously and professionally. Treat everyone with respect and kindness.

Follow Instructions and Guidance

Listen to and follow any instructions or guidance from facility staff regarding your visit, including directions within the facility.

Do Not Touch or Move Items

Do not touch or move items within storage units unless you have explicit permission from the facility staff, are participating in an auction, and are allowed to inspect the contents.

Be Mindful of Cleanliness

Maintain cleanliness during your visit. Dispose of trash or waste properly and leave common areas in the same condition or better than you found.

Ask for Assistance

If you have questions or need assistance during your visit, don’t hesitate to ask facility staff for help. They are there to assist you and provide the necessary information.

Leave Detailed Contact Information

Provide accurate and detailed contact information to the facility, especially if you are participating in an auction. This ensures they can reach you with important updates or information.


Noteworthy discoveries from self storage auctions in terms of value

Self storage auctions can yield various discoveries in value, ranging from valuable items to unexpected treasures. Here are some noteworthy discoveries that people have made at self storage auctions in terms of value:

Antiques and Collectibles

Storage units sometimes contain valuable antiques, rare collectibles, or vintage items. These include antique furniture, rare coins, vintage toys, fine china, or collectible art pieces.

Jewelry and Valuables

Occasionally, storage units may hold valuable jewelry, watches, gemstones, or precious metals. These items can have significant monetary worth.

Electronics and Gadgets

High-end electronics, such as laptops, smartphones, cameras, or gaming consoles, are often found in storage units and hold considerable value.

Artwork and Paintings

Valuable artwork, paintings, sculptures, or limited edition prints can be discovered in storage units. Art pieces can appreciate in value over time.

Vehicles and Equipment

Some storage units may contain cars, motorcycles, boats, or recreational vehicles (RVs). Additionally, valuable tools and equipment used in various trades could be found.

Designer Clothing and Accessories

Storage units may hold designer clothing, handbags, shoes, or accessories that can be valuable, especially if they are in good condition or part of a luxury brand collection.

Musical Instruments

Musical instruments like guitars, pianos, violins, or amplifiers may be found in storage units, and certain vintage or high-quality instruments can be worth a significant amount.

Coins and Stamps

Collections of rare coins, stamps, or other numismatic items can be discovered, potentially holding substantial value for collectors.

Sports Memorabilia

Storage units sometimes contain valuable sports memorabilia, including autographed items, vintage sports cards, jerseys, or game-worn equipment.

See also: Self Storage for Sports Fanatics

Vintage Books and Comics

Rare or vintage books, comics, or magazines may be hidden treasures in storage units, especially if they are collectible or part of a sought-after series.

Home Appliances and Furniture

High-quality home appliances or pieces in good condition may also hold value, particularly if they are designer brands or high-end models.

Firearms and Ammunition

While not common, firearms, ammunition, or related items can sometimes be discovered in storage units, which should be handled carefully and comply with local laws.



Storage unit auctions present a thrilling path to uncovering hidden treasures and experiencing the excitement of mystery and surprise. For those with a penchant for adventure and a keen eye for potential value, these auctions can be both exhilarating and rewarding. However, it’s essential to approach them with a sense of responsibility and ethics, ensuring an enjoyable experience for all involved.