Please, use my home for your clutter

for_rentThe other day, I stumbled upon the bizarre website Homstie. The purpose of the site is to list space in your home that you want to make available to strangers for clutter storage rental.

Off site storage does make sense in certain situations, especially for city parking. If your home comes with two parking spaces and you only use one, renting out the other space makes sense.

However, when it comes to putting someone else’s clutter in your home, the idea falls apart completely. First of all, if you have enough extra space that you can rent it out, maybe consider downsizing. Your mortgage and energy bills would certainly be smaller. Also, you don’t want your clutter in your home, why take on someone else’s? Finally, there is no telling what could be in those duffle bags that were dropped off by that strange guy who talks to squirrels in the park. All I can think of is the spooky case of John Robinson.

(via Lifehacker)

18 Comments for “Please, use my home for your clutter”

  1. posted by Sherri on

    Hi Matt,
    Interesting and certainly not for everyone but I can see how it would be useful.

    When my husband and I moved to Australia for a few years we knew we would be coming back home so didn’t want to do away with ALL of our stuff, as we would eventually need it again. We hit up my folks and used some space in their basement for storage until we got back. Similar idea and if you don’t have family in your area to help you out it could be a less expensive option than commercial warehouse space.

    I do agree that it could be a bit nerve wracking if you don’t know the person who’s stuff you’re storing, but hopefully there’s some good screening in place.


  2. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    Not only is it scary for the person storing the stuff (because you don’t know what is really in the stuff – think stolen goods, drugs, cockroaches).

    What if you’re the person with the stuff? You don’t know what else is in the house you’re storing your stuff in? (think – stolen goods, drugs, cockroaches). What if the house burns to the ground and your stuff is gone? What if the house is repossessed by the bank (common these days) or confiscated by the police because the house is also a grow-op?

    Nope, I’ll take that professional storage unit down the street. Better yet, maybe I’ll just get rid of my excess stuff!

  3. posted by Nancy on

    This is one of the craziest ideas I’ve heard of. I wouldn’t want anyone else’s stuff in my house. The reverse is true, also. Do you want to take the chance that the people you rent space from would go through your stuff? Or have a fire or water damage? Or steal something? My husband did rent space in someone’s garage once, many years ago.
    I found your site yesterday and have spent way too much time here. Love it!

  4. posted by falnfenix on

    “First of all, if you have enough extra space that you can rent it out, maybe consider downsizing. Your mortgage and energy bills would certainly be smaller.”

    energy bills, maybe…mortgage, no way in hell. when one finds a gem like our house, one doesn’t willingly downsize.

    why? we’re in a historic home. my partner purchased and remodeled the interior (rewired, replumbed, reinsulated, etf) and managed to do so on such a small dollar amount that most people in this area would be swallowing their tongues. many people are upside-down on their mortgages, but our house is still worth almost 3x what he paid, despite having lost $100k in the last year.

    i can’t say that we’d rent out storage space, but we certainly have more room than we use…and we’re not letting it go any time soon.

  5. posted by John on

    I think it’s great that Matt downsized, but please, that’s one person. The reality: in the current housing market, selling a house is not easy. Depending on your equity, it may cost you tends of thousands, not hundreds of thousands. I note that Matt lives in Pittsburgh, which (like my home, Houston) did not have a big housing bubble, and thus may be an easier place for that kind of change.

    But to just dismiss the idea that it’s hard to just move when in reality, for many people, it’s pretty much impossible, is definitely naive. Talk to someone in San Francisco or New York who has negative equity in their home because of market fluctuations, and you’ll realize that it’s not so simple.

    That said, all the warnings about taking strangers’ stuff are spot on. You definitely want references, a list of what’s in the stuff, and a rental agreement that lets you drag all the stuff to the curb if you discover they’ve lied, documents explaining that is NOT YOUR STUFF in case of legal issues, documents defining when they have access to their things, etc. Probably more trouble than it’s worth, but who knows…

  6. posted by Another Deb on

    When I think of the kind of stuff you might consider renting out space for, or to, it seems like you would want to limit it to large items. RV’s, cars, refrigerator; these are things people will very likely return for and have titles and reciepts for.

    I’d make them sign a waiver releasing me of liability.

  7. posted by Courtney on

    I have a problem…I just moved into my grandma’s house as she has moved into an assisted living apartment.

    I am gradually working through her remaining items (and she was a packrat), which isn’t the problem – but we are holding clutter for EIGHT other families besides hers.

    We set a deadline for people to get their items out by July (set the deadline in October), but it doesn’t look like it is going to happen…

    And we aren’t talking about small items, either. Large pieces of furniture including multiple beds and sofas, and even a large boat that takes up more room than a car.

    If anyone has any ideas, post them!

  8. posted by NN on

    This is an INCREDIBLY STUPID thing to do.

    To give my reason why, one of my friends did this at his family’s house in India. Turned out the stuff that was stored was used in a subsequent terrorist attack.

    Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

  9. posted by Rhiannon on

    I love, love, love your blog and am a regular follower. But, I don’t understand how the story of John Robinson relates to this post and could have done without reading his morbid life story. Please keep it clean on here (or at least post a warning about serial killer links that you post).


  10. posted by Sherri on

    @ Courtney a friend of mine was in a similar situation when she took over her Grandmother’s house. I would suggest sticking to your deadline and giving people ample notice (which it appears that you have) and even a few reminders leading up to that date.

    I wouldn’t recommend selling these items as you may spur arguments about fair market value, did you actually sell it for what you said you did etc…

    If you are not willing or capable of delivering the items personally to their rightful owners, I would recommend donating them to a charity that would honor these items and give them to people who truly need them. Many charities will even come and collect the items for you. I would make very sure you are explicit on the date that these items will be donated IF they are not picked up by then.

    If these people choose not to collect their things by your deadline then they obviously aren’t that important to them.

    Just my two cents. Good luck with reclaiming your space!

  11. posted by Cliff on

    I think this is a brilliant idea. I wouldn’t recommend to habitual unclutterers that we patronize the offsite-storage option (whether in someone else’s home or not), since the idea is for us to get rid of stuff, not get places for extra bits of it.

    But I would recommend it for a variety of OTHER good reasons. For example, for long-term travel. If you live in Florida but intermittently go to Manhattan for business (or just to see a show). You could save a few suits, some winter clothing, and your maps and New-York-specific savings cards in a trusted friend’s apartment in Manhattan. They could do the same in your house in Florida — their beach gear, a spare Speedo, the flippers and inflatable floating dolphin.

    Both ends benefit. They get to play with dolphie when they’re in Florida; you might bring out dolphie when a cousin’s kids come to visit you in Florida; and you get to put your parka in decent storage in New York, out of your hair where it’s 90 in the shade.

    It’s “storage trading.” Like friends-with-benefits …

  12. posted by Cliff on

    @ courtney and Sheri:

    I’m in a similar situation (kind of) in that, my parents and I are all only children, so we have the combined estates of four households among us. I’m a total UNclutterer — almost anal to a fault; and probably it’s about “issues” with my parents’ cluttering habits. They aren’t especially bad — just your typical middle-American consumers who don’t really think that more-in-the-house is bad-in-the-house. I’d put them at 6 or 7, maybe 8, on the dysfunctionality scale, no more. (1 is me. 10 is the Collier Brothers syndrome.)

    But the problem is, (a) I live with them (I’m going to law school so it’s a money-saver); and (b) I will have to clean it all up when they die. How to “get rid of” stuff that’s VALUABLE to others sentimentally, but that I personally don’t want to have to maintain, foster, shepherd, and steward?

    — Great-grandma’s quilts (thousands of dollars worth)
    — Boxes and boxes of family photos
    — Sixty pairs of mom’s shoes
    — Make-up and pharmaceuticals from the 1960s on
    — Expensive ceramic knick-knacks, such as Shearwater, George Orr, and Newcomb pottery vases
    — Expensive wall paintings by Mildred and Karl Wolfe, Walter Anderson, Jim Dunlap, Wyatt Waters, James Neil Hollingsworth
    — Three family’s worth of 19th Century furniture, draperies, beddings, linens
    — over three thousand books, including about two hundred American 20th Century first editions by major authors
    — six working computers and all the data on them
    — twelve (eleven, really) filing cabinets full of useful clipped articles, childhood drawings and schoolwork, insurance policies, notes from the Civil War

    I mean, it’s a professional archivist’s full-time job, to simply LIVE among these things. I want to have three bags and a box, total. What should I do? I have no idea … :(*** …

    Glad they’re still with me. They’re both retired, and I’m hinting strongly that I feel they’ve taken over my life with their expectation that I should steward someone else’s stuff. I have outright declared that I’m destroying the pottery (“I’m taking a baseball bat to that crap!”) in the hopes of making my point. It doesn’t sink in.

  13. posted by Lori Paximadis on

    1. I agree that renting out space for strangers to store their stuff in your house is risky, but I can understand why some would think it was a good idea, especially if you can use the cash. I stored a number of my books in an unused closet in my aunt & uncle’s house while I was living in Hawaii, which worked out well until they had a fire.

    2. There are lots of good reasons for downsizing your house (and lots of good reasons not to), but the reality is that in this economy, it makes no economic sense for most people. The loss in equity coupled with closing and moving costs would take many years to recover, even with reduced utility and mortgage costs. And even assuming equality between the two homes in regard to insulation, construction quality, windows, systems efficiency, etc., the cost difference for removing just one or two rooms is really pretty negligible.

    3. @Cliff: It’s not your problem yet. It’s their stuff and their house, and if they want to keep it, that’s their decision. If it bothers you that much, find another place to live. When it does become your problem, call an auctioneer. It seems like you will have a lot of valuable stuff to deal with, so let the auctioneer earn his or her cut by culling the wheat from the chaff and dealing with finding good homes for it. As for the expired pharmaceuticals, trash them now so they’re out of the house before anyone notices. Those are just dangerous. But the rest isn’t yours to deal with yet.

  14. posted by Sherri on

    @ Cliff: I have to agree with Lori that you really aren’t in a position to get rid of it at the moment (while your folks are still around) and it is their house after all. There are a lot of valuable things there and I wouldn’t just throw them out (and I’m pretty thorough when it comes to UNcluttering as well).

    I really like Lori’s auction idea. Where I’m from I know some museums are always looking for donations so they can rotate their displays with interesting pieces from different eras. So things like quilts, shoes, ornate perfume bottles, even old bedding and household items would be welcomed I’m sure.

    Try donating the books to a state library. As for things that are no longer relevant like clipped articles, insurance policies, and school work I would suggest tossing those if you have no attachment to them.

    For collector’s items do a bit of research and try selling them on E-bay or Craigslist. You could always sell remaining items at a garage sale and whatever’s left over donate to Goodwill.

    Those are my suggestions. Good luck with law school!

  15. posted by Melanie on

    @ Cliff

    If you’re staying with your parents for little to no rent, I think it’s fair that they should expect something in return. If that’s to deal with their stuff once they’re gone, so be it. They’re doing something for you now (helping you save money), you can do something for them then. Besides, maybe they want you to deal with it because they know you’ll do a good job.

    Good luck.

  16. posted by gypsy packer on

    If your extended family has a website, ask for bids on the pricey items, and have a reserve. Local museums do, indeed, like donations and you can get a good tax deduction if you itemize. You may wish to have a professional appraisal–the pottery and paintings, if genuine, will more than pay for it.

    Renting out storage to strangers? I doubt it–too many hazards like roaches, meth-cooking chemicals, and liability issues if something is stolen or broken.
    Renting home storage from strangers is equally fraught with perils, from thieving teens to “I’ll just take this–they’ll never miss it.”

  17. posted by Courtney on

    Yes, Cliff, once we got going on my grandmother’s stuff it was astonishing how fast we decluttered. You have to be vicious and somewhat unsentimental.

    Originally I thought “oh no, I’m going to end up throwing away something that someone will want”, but that hasn’t happened. We’re holding some items (about 5% of the things in the whole house) until July for people to claim. The truth of it is, even though my extended family is incredibly sentimental about items, they each knew exactly the items that meant most to them, and so we put those to the side and methodically went through the rest of the house. If you can’t think of an item at the outset as being important to you, it probably isn’t, and that makes decluttering someone else’s things easier.

    It does make you feel better to give it away rather than throw it away, so we made an arrangement with the church to take a lot of her items for their rummage sale.

  18. posted by Erin Doland on

    I have removed a string of comments because readers found them to be off-putting and upsetting. The comment section to this post is now closed.

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