(WSVN) - They rented a storage unit for some old family furniture and heirlooms. Little did they know they had guests: rats who destroyed everything. And the facility said, “We aren’t responsible.” Or are they? It’s why they put the call in to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When David decided to move into a smaller home, he wanted to find a way to entertain his cats.

David Prince: “We know that they love seeing the squirrels, so we found a bird feeder that sits in the window.”

David also enjoys the wildlife. Well, most of it.

David Prince: “I love squirrels, you know. They’re part of nature. Rats are invasive, unhealthy and dangerous.”

Rats are a sore subject with David right now.

Remember I mentioned he had downsized? At that time, he rented a self-storage unit for his extra belongings.

David Prince: “Modern furniture from the ’70s, and a few of the pieces came from my grandparents’ apartment. Also had a lot of sentimental value to us.”

Back in December, David’s wife had gone to the storage facility to pick up a few things.

David Prince: “She went and she closed it up. Everything was fine with the unit.”

In April, they went back, and you will see why David is disgusted by rats.

David Prince: “And as we were approaching the unit, walking through the halls, there was a putrid smell on the halls.”

As they opened the door, they saw rats had moved in to live and die.

David Prince: “It was rat infested. Everything in the unit was covered with urine, rat feces, and we even found dead rats in the unit.

Remember the sentimental items, like his grandfather’s chair? Ruined.

David Prince: “They destroyed furniture, artwork, documents that we were saving, military collectibles. Everything was just absolutely destroyed.”

Fortunately, the storage company required that David buy insurance.

Unfortunately, that insurance was basically worthless.

David Prince: “They pointed out that, you know, we paid for insurance, that they won’t cover more than $500 for vermin damage.”

David estimates the damaged items are worth tens of thousands of dollars.

He battled the storage facility to get reimbursed. He lost.

David Prince: “I’ve called corporate. No one in corporate will get on the phone with me. We’ve just been stonewalled.”

Well, Howard, legally is the storage facility responsible for the rat damage?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Most of these contracts for self storage facilities are very one sided in favor of the storage company, in part because the tenants signs away their rights. And while the facility is not responsible for rat damage, they could be if they become aware of the problem and don’t correct it, but again, it’s an uphill battle for the renter because the contract favors the facility.”

We contacted the storage company. After we spoke to them, they told David they’d compensate him for the damages if he’d sign a confidentiality agreement and not discuss the details with us.

David said yes, and while he can’t say what he got, he can say he’s happy.

David Prince: “I’m ecstatic. Thank you very much. Help Me Howard solved the issue, and we couldn’t be happier.”

David has taken everything from the storage unit, and while a lot of items got trashed, he has hopes for a few things.

David Prince: “We hopefully will be able to get restored and recovered some of this furniture that had value and sentimental value.”

Glad David is satisfied. And if you watch Help Me Howard, sometimes you see people sign a non-disclosure agreement like David did so they can’t talk about what they got. We don’t mind, because our goal is to get you what you deserve, and if you sign that document, it means you did.

Got a problem that’s left you hollering “rats”? Eradicate the pest by storing it with us, so we can clean things up for you.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
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