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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.