BRADENTON, Florida — Located right off State Road 64 in Bradenton, iStorage is an upscale, climate controlled self-storage center. It's where Paul Hannan started renting space in 2005 without any problems until last month.
"You could say we found some unwanted guests," said Hannon, who returned to find this belongings covered in rodent droppings and what appeared to be puddles of urine.
"There is feces all over everything back there," said Hannon showing us through his belongings. And it wasn't just in one unit, right down the hall we found customers with the same problems.
"Rats… rat turds. Rat urine. Just everywhere, just nasty," said customer Antwan Washington.
A dead rodent was even found in one of the units. Customers say it appeared the entire building was infested.
"If you actually got up in here, you would actually see rat feces," said Hannon showing us droppings all above the hallway lighting. "Up and down here, like it's a runway for those guys."
Both customers say they contacted the facility's office manager who seemed aware of the situation.
"They said well, 'we're taking care of it,'" said Hannon who claims the company offered little assistance, only the use of the facility's garbage dumpster to throw out his belongings. Worse yet, that same month a letter in the mail notified customers of an increase in their rental rates.
"That's when we contacted you guys," said Hannon of his call to 10 Investigates.
10 Investigates reached out to iStorage Management. The manager at the Bradenton facility would not speak to us on camera but we did reach the company's president, Chris Harris, by phone.
"I'm disappointed it got to this level," said Harris. "We do take steps to try to make sure our properties maintain their cleanliness standards that we set for ourselves as a company."
Harris says local management took immediate action calling in their pest control company to perform an extensive 5-day cleanup. But customers say they were left to clean up the rodent feces in their units themselves.
"To me they should have been proactive in this and they evidently weren't because too many rats got in," said Hannon.
"If you have a problem and it's not addressed that's going to spread like wildfire," said Scott Kelly who serves on the board of directors for Florida's Self Storage Association and is not affiliated with iStorage. He says one of the biggest issues: tenants storing food.
"We have stopped people from loading groceries into their storage units," said Kelly.
That's what iStorage claims prompted their problem providing video surveillance they say shows customers removing food from a unit and throwing away a box which appeared to have Valentine's Day candy inside.
Even so, iStorage management now says they're willing to work with customers to resolve any issues. Hannon and Washington say they've both been in touch with the iStorage corporate office who has agreed to assist in the cleanup and moving of their belongings.
Cleanliness standards within self-storage units are not regulated in the state of Florida and leaving tenants responsible for much damage.
Watch the video below of our interview with the Florida Self Storage Association on how to keep your belongings safe.
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