Halifax couple out over $6K after rodent feces, urine ruin storage locker items

Scelonia Rutherford says the damage was done in just a matter of weeks.

Scelonia Rutherford says Metro Self Storage won't reimburse her for the loss

Scelonia Rutherford said she and her partner lost about $5,800 worth of items after their storage unit was overrun with rodents. (CBC)

A Halifax couple says they're out more than $6,000 after belongings left in a storage locker were ruined by rodent feces and urine and the company refused to reimburse them for the damage.

Scelonia Rutherford said she and her partner signed up for a unit at Metro Self Storage in Bayers Lake Business Park in November to clear out a few things while they prepared to move.

They returned to the unit just a month later to pick up some items for Christmas.

Rutherford said the mattress was covered in rodent droppings and urine. (Scelonia Rutherford)

"The smell. The smell was just outrageous.… We were just totally shocked," she said.

"There was a lot of rodent droppings on our items — furniture, bed, clothing, everything. When we mentioned it to the customer service rep, she told us it could be washed out. We took offence to that."

About $5,800 worth of items

Rutherford said the company told her an investigation would be conducted.

But she said the smell of urine on the couch and king-sized mattress was so bad, and she was worried about damaging the rest of her items, that she brought them to the dump.

"After that, they said they couldn't help us out unless they had the items. So they asked us for an itemized list of what we'd taken out of there and what we had to get rid of," she said, adding that she also sent the receipt to the Otter Lake Landfill Facility.

The list included a sectional sofa, one king-sized mattress, curtains, sheets, pillows and towels — all of which Rutherford valued at about $5,800. She said they also asked for a refund for the two months' storage fees, which was about $400.

Rutherford said many of the items inside the storage unit were covered in rodent feces after just a few weeks. (Scelonia Rutherford)

"We did exactly what they asked us to do with their specifications on their lease: folding the items, putting them in baskets, do not put anything in plastic," Rutherford said.

She also said they did not have any food in the unit.

"They gave us the runaround.… It's been very stressful."

One-time offer

Rutherford said after three weeks of trying to contact the company to find a resolution, on Wednesday it emailed them a one-time offer. A copy of the email was forwarded to CBC.

"The one-time offer, which was good until the 20th of January at 5 o'clock, was $1,000. We were insulted by that because by the time you take off the $200 a month for the two months that we had our stuff there for the storage fees, that left us with $600," she said.

Just hours after CBC contacted Metro Self Storage, Rutherford said she received another email from the company's lawyer.

"They immediately revoked the offer. They automatically gave us a letter referring us to their lawyer and asking us not to contact them anymore."

'Diligent' on pest control

Bruce Shannon, general manager at the Metro Self Storage facility in Bayers Lake, said in an email to CBC he could not comment on specific tenant issues.

"With respect to pest control, we are very diligent. We have a monthly monitoring process in place with an external provider to manage pest control issues and protect our clients. We also work with clients to address any additional concerns in this area," Shannon said in the email.

The general manager for Metro Self Storage said in an email the company is diligent when it comes to pest control. (CBC)

The company's website says there is a $10,000 insurance policy in place to cover loss in the units from theft, fire or flood, but Shannon said this does not include damage caused by vermin.

A copy of the lease agreement also states using the space is at the user's "sole risk" and "the owner is in no way or under any circumstances responsible or liable for loss, injury or damage to such property."

But Rutherford said she still believes the company should be held accountable for the loss.

'It's frustrating'

"They gave us false hope," she said.

"[To] be told that they're going to help you and then they don't, it's frustrating. It's frustrating. We put our stuff in there in good faith, to be able to use it again and not have to throw it out and still have to pay for a unit."

Rutherford said she plans to take the company to small claims court.

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