Self-storage units should be secure, but sometimes the extent of this security can only become obvious when you're locked out of the unit. On one hand—it's a good thing since it's clearly difficult for someone to break into your unit. On the other hand—it's a huge inconvenience when you've lost or misplaced the key to the unit. What's the best course of action when you find yourself locked out of your own storage unit?
The Origin of the Lock
Firstly, you need to consider where you obtained the lock. Was it provided from the storage facility? If so, your problem is quickly solved, as the facility is likely to have a spare key available. If not, you will need to bypass the lock while still adhering to the storage facility's guidelines.
Inform the Storage Facility
You will need to inform the storage facility that your key has been lost. Before the existing lock can be bypassed, you will generally need to prove your eligibility to do so. This can involve providing appropriate photo identification at the facility during office hours. You will then be obligated to contact a licensed locksmith. While you might believe that you're capable of breaking the lock yourself, the facility may stipulate that the work is performed by a licensed professional.
It might be mandatory that any modifications to the lock take place during office hours so that a facility staff member can be on hand. Confirm this with the facility and schedule the locksmith's visit accordingly.
Bypassing the Lock
The locksmith will then assess the lock, and determine if it can be opened, or if it will need to be cut away. When the lock must be destroyed to enable its removal, precision is required so that the storage unit is not damaged (which is why many facilities will only permit a licensed professional to perform the work). Even when a lock can conceivably be opened, it's generally quicker and more cost-effective to replace it, as opposed to having a new key cut.
Once the lock has been bypassed, it must be immediately replaced with a lock that meets the facility's requirements. It's important to have an appropriate replacement lock available so that it can be immediately fitted.
Once the lock has been replaced, you might wish to leave a spare key with facility management or to store it in a safe place at home—essentially whatever is required to avoid the problem again in the future.
Reach out to a local locksmith service to get prepared in case of any emergencies in the future.