Could your spare storage space make you money?

Ned Browne

Do you own a half-empty attic, a disused garden shed, a dusty garage, or an unused spare room or even a cobweb-filled under-stairs cupboard?  If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you may be able to monetise that space…

With the rise of generation rent, people are becoming more transient—meaning we’re moving from property to property far more frequently. Riding on the crest of that wave have been the storage companies. People have more “stuff” than ever before— consumerism is on the rise too—but less space to store it.

And storage is expensive. Big Yellow Self Storage in Reading, for example, charge £36.90 a month for 50 sq ft of storage space. That’s £1,918.80 a year. And here’s where the opportunity arises.

 

Welcome to the AirBnB of self-storage

The Internet has fuelled the rise of the sharing, or peer-to-peer, economy. AirBnB now lists well over two million properties globally—meaning two million private owners are now making money off spare rooms or properties that may have remained empty.

Peer-to-peer storage aims to mirror their success. In the UK it has been growing steadily, if slowly. The two main UK providers are Storemates and Stashbee. The former featured on Dragons’ Den in 2012. Both claim to be much cheaper than traditional methods of storage, and those claims are easy to substantiate. For example, I found a 50 sq ft loft space in Reading for £66.43 a month (that’s £15.33 a week). In other words, approximately 40 per cent of what traditional storage companies charge.

They also offer convenience to many people. Unlike the self-storage companies who tend to locate in out-of-town retail parks, the spaces available on Storemates and Stashbee are often in busy urban locations.

 

How does it work?

As a “seller” it’s pretty straightforward to list your space. If you’ve ever sold anything on eBay, you’ll know what to expect. Provide as detailed a description as possible and high-resolution photographs. In terms of price, look at similar offerings to provide guidance.

As a “buyer” start by typing in your postcode to see what spaces are available in your area.  Check both websites too—that way you will be able to see most of what’s available.  

Make sure the space available suits your needs; you won’t be able to get a king-size mattress through a loft hatch.

 

What are the downsides?

You will not have access to your “stuff” 24/7. Instead, you will need to arrange a mutually convenient time for both parties. Also, do not assume anything you store will be covered by insurance—although, this is easy to arrange via the websites.

There’s the issue of trust too. Currently hosts and customers are not rated. However, Stashbee, for example, vets each space and carries out ID checks on both parties.  

Nonetheless, take reasonable precautions. Make sure you are with a friend or family member when you meet someone from the website. And, if you feel uncomfortable, you can pull out at any time.

 

Everyone is a winner

This is another example of an initiative that benefits both parties. But, on reflection, not everyone is a winner—big business might lose out (for once).