Charging a storage fee for uncollected items
Q: I own a manufacturing business where I take orders from customers and manufacture according to their specification. Once their order is prepared, they are notified and given a ten day period to collect the item from our warehouse.
The problem is that many customers delay in collecting their orders. This causes a problem for us as the uncollected orders take up space in the warehouse. In order to avoid this problem, we want to stipulate, at the time the order is placed, that if goods are not collected within ten days, then a stipulated storage fee will be charged for every day thereafter. Is this permissible in Shariah?
This agreement is not permissible for a few reasons. The first is that the seller is entering into a lease contract with the purchaser for goods that are non existent at the time of the agreement. The second is that the lease contract is suspended upon an uncertain event (in the case of the customer not picking up the goods, the goods will be stored). The third is that the goods are still in the possession of the seller. When the purchaser has not yet taken possession of the goods from the seller, the sale has not yet been completed and hence, the lease contract will not be valid. If both parties wish to enter into a lease contract, they should first complete the sale by the purchaser taking possession. Thereafter, the purchaser may enter into a separate lease contract with the seller. The alternative is for the seller to inform the purchaser that in the absence of the purchaser, a third party should act on his behalf in taking possession of the goods and thereafter leasing the premises of the seller for storage of the goods.
And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.
Mufti Zakaria Makada
Checked & Approved:
Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)
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