Officials: People living illegally in rented storage units

The city shut down a Massachusetts Avenue storage facility yesterday, saying people are living in rented units — paying a couple hundred dollars rather than the thousands that actual apartments can cost in Boston.

The Inspectional Services Department, along with the police, firefighters and health department workers, went to CubeSmart Self Storage in the South End yesterday afternoon after receiving reports of people living illegally in the storage units there, police said.

ISD spokeswoman Lisa Timberlake told the Herald that the manager insisted no one was living there.

A police statement said, “While surveying the facility, officials observed and discovered several individuals using the storage facility as living quarters. Specifically, officials noted that in addition to being occupied, some of the units contained curtains, coolers, food and electric cords. Officers informed the occupants that given the unsafe living conditions and health conditions, the facility was being closed and vacated pending further review.”

One person who said she lives there allowed investigators inside the unit she said was her home — a room that featured curtains, a bed and a loveseat, Timberlake said. One person told investigators she’s paying $230 a month to rent a unit, Timberlake said.

It’s illegal for people to live on a property that’s not designated for residential use — and the storage facility is not, Timberlake said.

“To our knowledge there wasn’t any type of bathroom facility, so right now it looks to be that these people are living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions and we may have to vacate the property,” Timberlake told the Herald.

ISD Commissioner William Christopher Jr. told the property manager people can’t live there, Timberlake said.

A person who answered the phone at the storage facility yesterday evening hung up on the Herald. Another person declined comment, referring matters to the company’s corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania, where no one answered yesterday.