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Ont. woman says all belongings inside storage unit destroyed by rat infestation

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A Cambridge, Ont. woman wants to be reimbursed after rats destroyed all of her belongings which were kept inside a storage unit.

Candice Peckford said she and her five children have been keeping close to $10,000 in furniture, clothes and family valuables inside a unit at SmartStop Self Storage on Savage Drive in Cambridge. Last week, she received a call from a family member who found them destroyed.

“I literally just wanted to cry,” Peckford told CTV News. “The smell was so strong.”

Peckford believes the rats entered the unit through the ceiling.

“All of the TV cords all chewed off my TVs, my brand new couch was put in there, it’s completely ruined. Everything my kids ever made me for Mother’s Day, birthdays, all my pictures,” she said.

Her daughter, Chloe McCutcheon, calls the whole ordeal frustrating.

“I’m sad and angry about it,” McCutcheon said. “They’re not getting back to us and helping or anything so it doesn’t help us feel any better."

Peckford reached out to SmartStop Self Storage to ask that they cover the damage, but as of Monday afternoon, she still hadn’t heard back.

In a statement to CTV News, the company explained: “Upon investigation, we believe the customer may have been storing food items in their unit, which can attract rodents.”

Peckford said she kept canned food inside the unit, but nothing perishable that she thought would attract animals.

Under the guidelines of the company agreement she signed, SmartStop Self Storage said it's not liable for damages caused by rodents.

“This agreement is typical of storage contracts, so it has those standard exclusion clauses,” Heidi Popovic, a lawyer with Popovic Law Group in Kitchener, told CTV News.

The signed agreement also stipulates that occupants must have their own insurance policy to cover their belongings, at their own expense, which Peckford never did. The agreement reads: “Failure to carry the required insurance is a breach of this agreement and occupant assumes all risk of loss to stored property.”

"It’s more of a buyer beware situation where you have to really cross your T’s and dot your I’s and make sure you have everything, and you’re not in breach of the agreement,” Popovic explained.

Peckford, meanwhile, said the unit is too contaminated to sift through and she doesn’t believe any of her belongings can be saved.

“It’s my whole life in there,” she told CTV News. “We have literally nothing.”

The mother of five said she'll take legal action if she's not reimbursed by the company.

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