CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Chances are you or someone you know rents a storage unit. Self-storage is a growing industry. Data shows Charlotte is one of the hottest markets in the nation for them.

A new report shows self-storage companies in Charlotte made more than $76.9 million dollars in 2021.

Chanel Lewis started renting a 10×15 unit at the Public Storage on Monroe Road in 2019.

“I was renting a home and the landlord went up on the rent,” Lewis said. “I decided to put my stuff into storage and then look for a new place then the pandemic came in.”

In the pandemic, prices for storage are up at least 17% in 2021 alone. Lewis says she started paying $130 but now she’s paying $222 for the same unit.

“It went up so high. I was so frustrated because there were times that I had to sleep in my car for two weeks to get the money to pay for my storage unit,” Lewis said. “I pay my storage every month regardless of what I have to do to pay for that storage. I’m not looking for anything for free, but I wish they would do better with the rates.”

Lewis has seen a near 70% increase in the price of her unit since June of 2019. Her unit does not have air conditioning. Industry trends show prices are rising. Radius+ analyzes the storage unit market. Cory Sylvester is a part of the research team; he says the growth of Charlotte plays a part in the price.

“You have a lot of people moving there and when a lot of people tend to move to an area, you see a lot of demand for self-storage,” Sylvester said. “You really have to factor in I need to consider what’s going on in the broader market today.”

Cory Sylvester says it’s a game of supply and demand with longer-term renters seeing increases.

“The model within self-storage is that if you continue to stay there, over time, the price does go up,” Sylvester said. “It’s a widely used product across all income types, ethnic groups, the one statistic I shared is that, you know, a lot of younger generations tend to use it a much higher proportion than older generations.”

Sylvester recommends tenants price shop to find what works for them. He says the location also impacts the price.

“The thing with self-storage is that it’s a month-to-month rental. So, to the extent you ever think that you’re being taken advantage of you have the ability to exit,” Sylvester said. “If you’re interested in finding the unit with the lowest rent, then it just means you have to drive further.”

In North Carolina, there are two laws on the books for self-storage. One regulates late fees, the other lays out guidelines for selling items if a tenant fails to pay.

Queen City News reached out to Public Storage about Lewis’ case but hasn’t heard back. Other units nearby are renting spaces her size for comparable rates. There are 45 other facilities within a five-mile radius.

“I think that they should do better with the rates,” Lewis said. “I’m not saying for them to be extremely cheap because I’m aware they are a good facility, but they can do better.”

The Attorney General oversees the market to make sure companies don’t take advantage of consumers. A spokeswoman from North Carolina’s Attorney General Josh Stein’s office says anyone who thinks they’re getting hit with unfair increases should file a complaint.