Self Storage Software
- Category: Industry News
Web Browser Access for Storage Software
Many facilities have a no internet policy from office computers, however companies like SMD have circumvented that with a link on their software that opens a web browser. They do not give facilities an option to disable the links.
This really removes the risk-reward valuation from the facilities.
Self Storage Software and Lien Laws
Looking for software for your Mini Storage or Self Storage?
Be careful, many companies are not equipped to handle the lien law for California, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Washington and many do not protect the tenant information.
Federal Trade Commission Business Alert Disposing of Consumer Report Information
Tells How In an effort to protect the privacy of consumer information and reduce the risk of fraud and identity theft, a new federal rule is requiring businesses to take appropriate measures to dispose of sensitive information derived from consumers. Proper disposal of information in consumer reports and records to protect against unauthorized access to or use of the information. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency, enforces the Disposal Rule.
What is proper disposal ?
The Disposal Rule requires disposal practices that are reasonable and appropriate to prevent the unauthorized access to, or use of, information in a consumer report. For example, reasonable measures for disposing of consumer report information could include establishing and complying with policies to:destroy or erase electronic files or media containing consumer report information so that the information cannot be read or reconstructed; conduct due diligence and hire a document destruction contractor to dispose of material specifically identified as consumer report information consistent with the Rule.
Due diligence could include: reviewing an independent audit of a disposal company's operations and/or its compliance with the Rule; obtaining information about the disposal company from several references; requiring that the disposal company be certified by a recognized trade association; reviewing and evaluating the disposal company's information security policies or procedures.
In Canada, the Annual Report to Parliament, from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, talks about reforming the Privacy Act. Below is some of the concerns that they will be addressing;Privacy: Collection. Personal information collected that is not required for an operating program or activity of the institution; personal information is not collected directly from the individual concerned; or the individual is not advised of the purpose of the collection of personal information. Retention and Disposal. Personal information is not kept in accordance with retention and disposal schedules (approved by the National Archives and published in INFOSOURCE): either destroyed too soon or kept too long.
In addition, personal information used for an administrative purpose must be kept for at least two years after the last administrative action unless the individual consents to its disposal. Use and Disclosure. Personal information is used or disclosed without the consent of the individual and does not meet one of the permissible disclosures without consent listed in section 8(2) of the Act.
Data Security Issues
If the computer you use for customer data (your storage software), accesses the Internet. You need to make sure your data can not be breached. You need to get protection, (firewall,etc), for your computer to protect it from any outside intruder.
Some software companies use un-secured databases that can be read with a text editor. There are quite a few viruses, trojan horses, and spy-ware that will copy or steal .mdb (Microsoft Database), and document files.
This can cost an owner up to $3000 per tenant if your data is compromised.
An quick way to see if your data is at high risk, is to open your tenant data file with MS Notepad. If you can see in all of that information, any of your tenant's information, be concerned.
As an example, this might be what your part of your data looks like:
which is the following;......... Name / Company / address / City /zip / phone / DL# / SSN / Billing address /Work Phone /Home Phone / E-Mail Address If you can make out any information like what is shown above, you are at greater risk.
The example above is from the Sitelink Stand Alone .mdb file.
Adam from Empower Software, (877-672-6257) brought a potential problem to our attention.If you open your database with Notepad, make sure you DO NOT SAVE the database. It will corrupt your database, making your program unusable.
Kat Shenoy from E-SoftSys (Self Storage Manager 610-277-7457) has suggested that you keep the social security number only in the tenant's file, do not store it on the computer. It would still be available to you, if you needed it for collections or background check.
An an example of some of the Trojan horse programs out there now. When a hacker utility, back door, or Trojan Horse is installed on a system, e.g. NetBus, Back Orifice, Rootkit, etc. through email or a destructive website; When Windows is restarted, the program executes and builds all .idx, .mdb, .pst, .htm, .snm, .pab, and .txt files on the hard drive. It also extracts all URLs (web addresses) from the Internet cache. All of this information is copied to a .dat data file and encrypted.The trojan horse sends all of the collected information in the .dat file to a specific email address.
Since the access 97 mdb file can be read with the Notepad program, the recipients of the email will have all the tenant information.
Another virus will take email address it finds in Microsoft Windows Address Book and in .dbx, .wab, .mbx, .eml, and .mdb files and email itself to them.
How secure will a tenant feel about your facility and your safeguarding of their personal information when they receive a virus from you? If you are not sure about doing it, don't. It would be better to make sure your computer with the database is isolated from the Internet.
I have helped more than one facility try to recover data after an employee surfed the web and picked up some serious viruses. If you must be connected to the Internet, contact a network security consultant. A good security consultant will start by assessing factors to determine the level of security you really need.
No facility should be using Windows XP, Microsoft no longer will do security updates for XP leaving it vulnerable
Lien Notice Issue for Self Storage Software
Some of the software for the Self Storage Industry can not put an expiration date as required by law on the lien notices.
These dates are not optional and they are specific, they require a specified date, not just 'expires 15 days from date of mailing'.
Many companies think they are legal because they can handle the multi-level late fee schedule, but they ignore the days between late events, and expiration dates on letters that is required in California, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Washington
California Law also requires no less than 14 days between the Pre-Lien Letter and the Notice of Lien Letter (Calif. B and P Code 21704), there is no requirement on days past due, just days after a notice. If you mail your Pre-Lien notice on Thursday June 16th, 2012, you can not mail your Notice of Lien any earlier than Friday July 1st.
You must also have the date the Notice of Lien will run on your pre-lien notice, in this example the expiration (specified) date on the letter would be June 30th 2005. 21703...
(c) A notice that the occupant may be denied access to the storage space after the termination date if the sums are not paid and that an owner's lien, as provided for in Section 21702, may be imposed thereafter. 21704... If this sum is not paid in full before __________________________________________________ (date at least 14 days from mailing) your right to use the storage space will terminate, you will be denied access, and an owner's lien on any stored property will be imposed. Hawaii Chap. 507, Part III, §507-63... (3) That the owner will seize and take possession of the property to satisfy the lien after a specified date which is not less than fifteen days from the date of mailing the notice unless the amount of the lien is paid. Rhode Island§ 34-42-4 Enforcement of owner's lien...
(D) a demand for payment of the claim by a specified date not less than thirty (30) days after mailing of the notice;
(E) a conspicuous statement that unless the claim is paid by the specified date, the occupant's right to use the storage space will terminate....
Washington RCW 19.150.040 Unpaid rent -- Termination of occupant's rights -- Notice....
(2) A statement that the occupant's right to use the storage space will terminate on a specified date (not less than fourteen days after the mailing of the notice) unless all sums due and to become due by that date are paid by the occupant prior to the specified date.
(3) A notice that the occupant may be denied or continue to be denied, as the case may be, access to the storage space after the termination date if the sums are not paid...
Most facilities use 15 or 16 days between the letters for a buffer, (couldn't make it to post office etc.). This is pretty straight forward for a facility that uses the first of the month accounting and no tenant bounces a check. If a tenant's check does get returned to us by the bank...Most of the time we get the checks back from the bank between the 14th and 30th of the month. The tenant's rent-paid to date is put back to what it was previous to the payment represented by the check. This usually means the tenant is now in pre-lien status. If this happened on June 20th 2005 and we ran the pre-lien letter, on some software systems it would run the Notice of Lien letter on July 1st 2005, with the normal run of Notice of Lien Letters. If we did not catch that error, (11 days between notices) and the unit continued to sale, we would be liable for a wrongful sale lawsuit because we did not follow the lien sale process as dictated to us by California Law. At a first of the month facility with 900 units this is a problem that is hard to keep track of.
If we decided to change this facility to a anniversary due date. We would have letters running throughout the month, making it impossible to track letters that do not have proper time between them. If any of those tenant's units did go to sale, we would be liable in a wrongful sale suit. After viewing some of the judgments awarded the past few years, it could be something that could destroy the company. Any tenants that we have to start the lien process over, have the authority by law to move out between the pre-lien and notice of lien regardless of how past due they are.
This is a part of the Excel check-off list we have to use prior to sending a tenant to auction:
Space Name..................Receipt......P/L Mail.......P/L Exp.....N/L Date
If an error was made in the expiration date on the Pre-Lien or Notice of Lien. (employee click 'OK' instead of selecting a date from the menu), we would have to start the lien process over, (we had that happen a few months ago, when the Pre-Lien letters were ran, the employee clicked on 'OK' instead of selecting the expiration date. It was not found until they started attaching the postal receipts to our copy of the letter. We had to re-run and re-mail over 60 certified letters, this happened using Sitelink standalone)
Below is a response from some of the software companies about;
1. No Less than 14 days between the mailing of Pre Lien and Notice of Lien with the 'Termination Date' being printed on the Pre Lien and Notice of Lien
They do handle all of the lien laws. (800) 455 9055
This program is compliant with the Lien Law. If a check is returned, the lien cycle does not start until the following month. (Company always good about answering questions) (800) 688-6181 Sends out quarterly newsletter to let clients know what is going on with industry and their software.
call 1-800-817-7706 for information (very good about answering any questions or concerns)
RentPlus will insert dates into the letters, using a feature we call 'date tags'. Contact Mike Richards (800)551-8324
Our software has the ability to set the number of days between late steps. For California the mandatory 14 days between the pre-lien and lien steps is available. The feature is fully customizable for all state requirements; if the number of days between steps is different the program can meet those demands. This applies to all late steps setup in the system. After events such as return checks and partial payments the system will account for the change in days late and enter the tenant into the appropriate step. The letters are fully customizable through our Microsoft Word interface which allows the user to input date requirements on their late step documents. This is not limited to California but to all users. Empower Software Inc. (877) 672-6257.
Quikstor became fully compliant with all the new California delinquency laws back in November 2000 (late fee schedule). Prior to that Quikstor has been compliant with the time elapsed requirement for the California Pre-Lien and Notice of Lien. If a Pre-Lien letter is sent on the 18th of May 2001, and the expiration time is set for 15 days that customer's letter will not run until June 2, even if everybody else's letters run on May 31. Contact Doug Carner QuikStor 1-800-321-1987 Integrity Software:
CenterShift: Does not answer inquiries/ Centershift Acquires RentPlus Software
SMD Sitelink the CA late fee schedule as a specific late fee default. It can also be set tenant by tenant. 2) a Prerequisite Event feature for past due event handling along with a Days After Prerequisite Event setting. This will allow you to set the lien event to only occur N days after the pre-lien event. When there is a bad check, past due events will be restarted, with a pre-lien event occurring and then N days after it has been performed the Lien event occurs. The expiration date on the letters is put in manually by selecting a date from a calendar prior to printing. Company will send out updates twice a year or upon request.Web Version uses a secure version of mysql.
Our software currently does not have a termination date included in the lien or prelien letters. You would have to edit the prelien letter before printing one. If you do decide to purchase our software, we would add this to the software for no charge.
DHS Worldwide: Trackum:
You would have to put that in manually LogonExpress: Since each state is different so our software doesn't have the Lien letter. However, our software is integrated with Microsoft Word so you can import your own letter or create your own letter in the software. 401)383-8959
Self-Storage Pro AndraTech:
We've finished the modifications and have uploaded the updated version on our website.(company very quick to respond) James Boyd (877) 613-2700 Swamp: All letters and late notices are created by the user. Therefore specific dates other than the current date need to be entered by the user.