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Saturday, August 13, 2022
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YOUR LATEST NEWS & RESOURCES

We have compiled the latest news and resources related to the self storage industry in your state.

LEGAL UPDATE - 2022

Lien law update. House Bill 321 was signed into law by Governor DeWine on June 14 and takes effect on September 13, 2022. The bill amended the lien law as follows:

The law was amended in 2021 to expressly permit owners to send required notices by email. However, the law did not permit email to be used as the exclusive means to send notice. Owners were also required to send the notice via first class mail. Starting on September 13, the notice may be sent exclusively by electronic mail to the occupant, but only if both of the following apply:

  • The occupant agreed to receive the notice via electronic mail and provided an electronic mail address to the owner in the original rental agreement or in a subsequent amendment to the rental agreement; and,
  • The owner sends the notice via electronic mail in such a way as to establish, with a response or return receipt, that the message was delivered to the occupant's electronic mail address.

If the owner cannot establish that the notice was delivered with a response or return receipt, the owner must send the notice via first class mail with a certificate of mailing.

House Bill 321 also provided some “clean up” to the towing section. The law previously used “shall” in the towing section, which some owners interpreted to mean that all motor vehicles and watercraft were required to be towed. The 2022 amendments change the “shall” to “may” to confirm that vehicle towing is only a permissive remedy and that owners may elect to sell certain titled property as permitted elsewhere in Ohio law. It also expanded the types of property that may be towed to include trailers, in addition to motor vehicles and watercraft.

These changes may require revisions to the operator’s rental agreement if the operator wants to send default notices exclusively by email. Click here to purchase the Ohio Lien Law Annotated, which explains all of the new amendments in depth and provides recommendations for implementation. 

Property taxes.  House Bill 126 was signed into law in April by Governor Mike DeWine. It takes effect on July 19, 2022. The bill makes several favorable changes to property tax assessment challenges. Under current law, county auditors make an initial property tax assessment. If either the taxpayer or the local school district believes that the assessment is too high or too low, either party may file a complaint with the County Board of Revision. Once a decision is rendered at that level, either party may appeal to the Board of Tax Appeals.

Now, a school district may file an original complaint only if the complaint is based on a determination that the property was sold in an arm’s length transaction before, but not after, the tax lien date for the tax year for which the complaint is filed, and the sale price exceeds the true value of the property appearing on the tax list for that tax year by both ten per cent and more than $500,000 above the value set by the county auditor. Additionally, the complaint must be expressly authorized by the school board at a public meeting.

The bill also prohibits entering into a private payment agreement.  A private payment agreement

means any type of agreement in which a property owner, or any person acting on behalf of a property owner or such a tenant agrees to make one or more payments to a school district in exchange for refraining from filing a complaint or counter-complaint; dismissing a complaint or counter-complaint; or, resolving a claim by settlement agreement.

HB126 also changes the appeals process. Local school districts are no longer permitted to appeal a decision to the Board of Tax Appeals. HB126 is likely to provide tax relief for self storage owners and operators in the state.

 

COVID-19

The national SSA has many resources and webinars available focused on COVID-19 and our industry.  Click here to access news about COVID-19 and self storage.  Invitations to register for the webinars are being sent to state and national members, specifically, the primary contact's email address.

For the latest information from Ohio on the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the governor’s office website and your state’s department of health here. Be sure to carefully monitor the situation and check on updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) www.cdc.gov, regulatory agencies as well as local health officials.

Please also read the letter from Tim Dietz, SSA President and CEO, that provides resources and information related to states of emergency and pricing restrictions here.  

January 2021

 

BUILDING CODES UPDATE

 

Changes to the International Building Code Affect Self Storage

With the support of its Code Committee, the Self Storage Association successfully pursued several key changes to the 2021 International Building Code. 

  1. An exception has been added to IBC Section 2902.3.3 to permit an increase in the location (to greater than every other floor) and maximum distance of travel (to greater than 500 ft) for restrooms.  The location and travel distance must be approved by the code official.
  2. The maximum allowable height of sprinklered facilities made of Type IIB materials (unprotected steel) and Type IIIB materials (noncombustible or fire-retardant-treated wood stud exterior walls and any interior construction) has been increased from 3 stories to 4 stories.  The Code continues to have total floor and building square footage limits. 
  3. Pursuant to modified IBC Section 903.2.9, storage facilities are exempt from the automatic sprinkler system requirement if: (1) the total fire area is 12,000 sq. ft. or less; (2) the combined total fire areas are 24,000 sq. ft. or less; (3) the facility is no greater than one story above grade plane; and (4) all storage spaces are accessed directly from the exterior. 

These changes go into effect as they are adopted by local and state governments over the next several years.  Prior to the adoption on the local and state level, storage developers can request that the code official rely on the 2021 changes as acceptable alternative methods of construction pursuant to section 104.11 of the existing International Building Code.

Please email Joe Doherty with any questions or to receive supporting documentation for these changes.

 

April 1, 2020

New Leave Law to Impact Storage Industry, Effective April 1

As reported last week, the new federal leave law takes effect on April 1. Employers must provide notice to their employees immediately if they have not done so already. The notice can be found here

SSA’s updated FAQs can be found here. The updated FAQs answer questions on issues such as the posting requirements for the notice and the limited exemption available to employers with fewer than 50 employees. 

The Department of Labor’s complete FAQs can be found here

Employers are strongly encouraged to discuss the new law with their legal counsel. Please email Joe Doherty, jdoherty@selfstorage.org, with any questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legislative Efforts

July 2021 Update  - HB132

Ohio HB 132 passed the House of Representatives in late March and was favorably voted out of the Senate in June. The version passed by the Senate is different from the House version. The House must now decide whether to accept the Senate amendments. Unfortunately, the Senate version is much narrower than the House-passed bill. Most significantly, the Senate version will expressly authorize online auctions.
However, the Senate version would not allow lien notices to be sent exclusively by email.
 

February 2020 UPDATE - House Bill 172

 

OHSSA Call to Action

Ohio SSA is fighting to improve the lien law in your state. We need your help supporting House Bill 172, which would allow lien notices to be sent by email, expressly permit online auctions, and clean up the optional towing provision.

 Today, please call or email the state senator for your home and each of the businesses you own in the state. Ask them to support HB 172. Please encourage your colleagues, employees, business partners, and competitors to do the same. You can find your state senator here.

 Thank you for your continued support.

 

 

The Ohio Self Storage Association, together with the national Self Storage Association, is working on a number of issues to protect and improve your regulatory arena. 

 

Ohio - Hopkins vs. Car Go Self Storage - Notice to Check Your Rental Agreement

 

Does your rental agreement contain a legally enforceable release of liability and waiver of implied warranties?  If you attended the Ohio SSA meeting in May, you can obtain a free review of your rental agreement from self storage attorney Jeffrey Greenberger.  You can reach Mr. Greenberger at Katz, Greenberger and Norton, LLP by calling (513) 698-9350 or email jeff@grbrlaw.com

 

 

To reduce your exposure to tenant claims, be sure that your rental agreement contains a broad release of liability and an express waiver of any implied warranties.  Read on to learn more about a recent Ohio appellate court decision upholding a broad release of liability and an express waiver of any implied warranties.

 

In 2017, self storage tenant Yvette Hopkins sued Car Go Self Storage after she discovered that her stored property was covered in mold.  She alleged that the mold was caused by water that entered the unit from a water leak. 

 

Her lawsuit included a breach of contract claim based, in part, on what she called “an implied warranty that the unit was fit and habitable for storage of property.” The trial court in Franklin County dismissed her case, and Hopkins appealed to the Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth Appellate Court.

 

The appellate court in Hopkins v. Car Go Self Storage, 2019-Ohio-1793, unanimously agreed with the trial court’s dismissal of Hopkins’s case.  When agreeing with the trial court’s dismissal of the breach of contract claim, the appellate court focused on the broad release of liability and express waiver of any implied warranties contained in the Car Go’s rental agreement.  The rental agreement stated as follows:

 

No bailment is created expressly or implied hereby and Owner assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage to the contents stored in the leased space described herein. Occupant is responsible for securing and paying for any insurance coverage on property in the leased space, and further agrees to accept the responsibility of placing wood strips under cardboard boxes, furniture and other items that could be damaged by dampness; and also, to place Decon Tablets (or similar) for protection against rodents. Owner shall not be liable to occupant or to Occupant's employees, patrons, visitors or licensees for any damage to persons or property caused by the negligent act or omission of any other tenant of the building or buildings of which the unit is a part, or due to the unit being or becoming out of repair, nor for any damages from the want of repair of any part of the building of which the unit i[s] a part. Occupant accepts the unit as suitable for the purpose for which leased and accepts the unit and each and every appurtenance thereof and waives patent and latent defects therein, accepts the premises "as is" and agrees to indemnify and hold Owner harmless for all claims for any such damage. Owner assumes no liability for any loss or damage incurred by Occupant; however, in the event Owner is found to be grossly negligent or intentionally at fault, the Owner's liability shall not exceed the sum of fifty and no/100 ($50.00) Dollars, which sum shall represent Occupant's liquidated damages. Owner shall not be liable for loss or damage resulting from failure, interruption or malfunction of utilities, appliances or fixtures, if any provided to Occupant under the terms of this Agreement.

 

The language that the tenant “accepts the premises ‘as is’” is an express waiver of implied warranties under Ohio law.  The appellate court noted that such waivers are generally valid under Ohio law.  Moreover, the exculpatory language in the contract, such as the phrase “Owner assumes no liability for any loss or damage incurred by Occupant”, is valid under Ohio law unless the tenant demonstrates that the language is unconscionable or ambiguous.  The appellate court ruled that the exculpatory language was clear and unambiguous and that the tenant never argued that the language was unconscionable.

 

Ohio Legislative Update-April 2019

A bill will soon be introduced that, if passed, would allow storage operators to send lien notices exclusively by email and would clarify the standards for towing a vehicle when a tenant is at least 60 days past due.

 

April 30, 2019 

SSA President & CEO Tim Dietz and OH SSA member Gina Hackett, of Storage Asset Management, testified today at the Ohio Capitol in favor of a bill meant to modernize the state’s lien law.

 

Changes to the International Building Code Affect Self Storage - April 2019

With the support of its Code Committee, the Self Storage Association successfully pursued several key changes to the 2021 International Building Code. 

 
  1. An exception has been added to IBC Section 2902.3.3 to permit an increase in the location (to greater than every other floor) and maximum distance of travel (to greater than 500 ft) for restrooms. The location and travel distance must be approved by the code official.
  2. The maximum allowable height of sprinklered facilities made of Type IIB materials (unprotected steel) and Type IIIB materials (noncombustible or fire-retardant-treated wood stud exterior walls and any interior construction) has been increased from 3 stories to 4 stories. The Code continues to have total floor and building square footage limits. 
  3. Pursuant to modified IBC Section 903.2.9, storage facilities are exempt from the automatic sprinkler system requirement if: (1) the total fire area is 12,000 sq. ft. or less; (2) the combined total fire areas are 24,000 sq. ft. or less; (3) the facility is no greater than one story above grade plane; and (4) all storage spaces are accessed directly from the exterior. 
 
These changes go into effect as they are adopted by local and state governments over the next several years. Prior to the adoption on the local and state level, storage developers can request that the code official rely on the 2021 changes as acceptable alternative methods of construction pursuant to section 104.11 of the existing International Building Code.
 
Please email Joe Doherty with any questions or to receive supporting documentation for these changes.
 

 






 
 
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