another's stored stuff
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Virginia Wells

Getting Tough on Another’s Stored Stuff

What can you do about another’s stored stuff? Do you have stuff stored in a room, garage or in storage that needs to be dealt with but it belongs to somebody else? It might be your partner’s stuff, or it could be boxes you’ve been kind enough to store for a child, parent, family member or friend. Recently I wrote a post about getting someone else on board the declutter train. If you’ve tried everything in that post then this is the next step.

Set Boundaries

If the offending person is not willing to ‘get on the train’, then your next step is really to set some timeframes and boundaries about what you’re willing to accept moving forward. Consider it this way. You’ve sacrificed your ‘prime real estate’ for someone else to have things languish for months, years or decades. You’ve decided that you’d like that space back to do a hobby you’ve taken up. What can you do?

As in my previous post, we always start with a conversation. You want to make them aware of your vision for the space, and how it’s not possible with their stuff where it is. Can the two of you come to a compromise or come to an agreement? 

I’m going to assume you’ve been down this route before and they’ve said, “Yep, sure thing! I’ll have it out by the end of the month.” Or “I’ll do it this weekend!” and that was six months ago (I hear some of you groan and say, try 20 years!). If that’s not you, head back to the blog about getting them on the declutter train

And Be Clear About Them

Ask yourself, “what am I willing to put up with?” Assuming you’re on talking terms, and they want their stuff, you’ll want to make it clear what your expectations are. You’ll want to communicate your plan to them and also what you’re willing to put up with.

You’ll need to get clear on what you need from them, what space you need, and what you’re willing to sacrifice to get a positive outcome. Do you only need half of their stuff gone? Do you need it all gone? Are you open to it staying for a week, month, year? Do you want it out so badly, you’ll pay to have it moved to their house or to storage? Would you declutter and sort it for them? Once you know what you want, and what you’re willing to do, then you can communicate that to them. 

Whatever the plan, you need to make clear, what you expect of them, what timeframe it needs to happen within, and what happens if they don’t do it.

Follow Through

It is important for you to be able to follow through with the ‘what will happen to it, if they don’t do it themselves‘ side of things, otherwise they’ll know they can walk all over you.

You can be as helpful, and flexible as you like about another’s stored stuff. Just be clear (for everyone’s sake) what you want and need. You don’t want to build resentment in this.

An Example from My Own Experience

I once stored a bike in my garage for a friend. It was supposed to be there for a month, but six months later, it was still there. I’d messaged about it a few times and hadn’t gotten anywhere. I decided I was happy to help move it on if they were happy with that, and they were. So I organised the sale of the bike on behalf of my friend and hey presto, problem solved. (I know it’s not always that simple). Had this not worked, I would have sent formal letters advising that it needed to be out of my shed by a particular date, otherwise I would sell it on their behalf and put the money aside for them. Then I would have followed through on that.

There are laws around giving away or selling items that do not belong to you, so make sure you look into that so you don’t get yourself in trouble. Each state has different guidelines so get in touch with your local government.

It Isn’t Easy I Know

I give this example to show the different approaches you can take. You can choose to continue to store it for them for a while longer with no action. You can choose to tell them it’s to be out of your garage by the end of the week. Just be sure you’ll follow through on the boundary you’ve set (and that it’s legal). Your choice and options will vary on the scenario, how long it’s been there, and how desperately you need the space. Not an easy solution necessarily, but a way forward all the same. 

What have you done to move things on from your home that didn’t belong to you? I’d love to hear your ideas and wins. Share them in the free WellSorted Facebook Group so we can help each other navigate the tricky area of another’s stored stuff.

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