The challenges of sharing a storage unit with friends

Moving guides - December 17, 2018

Many people make use of storage units to hold their excess stuff in. It’s an excellent way to have your home clear of clutter without throwing away needed things. You shouldn’t feel suffocated by your belongings! You might think to yourself, well, why not throw things away and purchase new ones if we need them again? That can work for some things, sure. But, of course, there are a lot of items that just aren’t single-use. If you only have so much house space, would you keep your kids’ sleigh under the bed or in the hallway, tripping around it year long while waiting for the snow, or would you put it in storage and take it out when needed? Or would you just buy a sleigh every year? Of course a storage unit is the logical choice! But, should you be sharing a storage unit with friends

Sharing a storage unit with friends is a good idea if you don’t have enough items to get a storage solution all by yourself. Good storage units can cost – for a reason, considering the insurance and the security – and it can feel like a waste of money if you’re just storing three things. But, if you team up with some friends in the same boat, you can just rent a storage unit together! This goes double for college students, who might need a place to stash their stuff between semesters – especially if they live out of state. After all, they’d have to calculate the costs of hauling the things to and from their parents, against the costs of throwing them away and buying new ones or the costs of storage. And, especially if they’re storing with friends, storage wins out.

Three women with shopping boxes sitting next to each other.
Sharing a storage unit with friends is a true test of friendship.

What could go wrong with sharing a storage unit with friends?

Just because someone is a good friend doesn’t mean that they’d be good to share a storage unit with. Maybe your close friend is a good, helpful person, but is chronically flaky and forgetful, or late with paying the bills. That isn’t a bad quality in a friend, but it is a bad quality in someone you’re renting with! You’ll all be responsible for the rent. Imagine your unit gets repossessed and ends up on Storage Wars just because your friend forgot to send a check!

Sharing a storage unit with friends means that you figure out paying in advance.
How will you pay?

This is why you should approach sharing a storage unit as a serious deal, because it is. It can be very anxiety-inducing to be the one to bring all these things up. Your friends might argue, or say that you don’t trust them, or any number of things. But things happen, and it’s far better to have worked things out beforehand than to be thrust in a crisis unawares! This is especially important if you’re using storage as help while moving – for example, to hold your stuff while you’re hiring long distance movers Brooklyn.

How do you solve this?

You have to discuss your concerns beforehand. It’s important to outline anything that might be a problem – often people just don’t realize there is one! If you trust these friends enough to share a storage unit with them, you have to trust them enough to have a frank discussion with them.

  • You have to figure out how to handle payment beforehand. Will everyone be writing a check for some of the money? Or will they give the money to one person who will send it?
  • The biggest question when sharing a storage unit with friends is ‘who will be on the lease’? To which, frankly, the answer should be “everyone”. If everyone’s names are on the lease, everyone has the same responsibility. If you’re the only person on the lease, legally, you’re the only one responsible for the storage and the bills. That means your friends can stiff you with the bill and there’s nothing you can do about it!
  • That also means that you’d be the one responsible for any breach of contract your friends make – if a friend of yours decides to put their plants into storage instead of moving houseplants, which is illegal, it’s your responsibility.
  • Who will have access to the unit? When sharing a storage unit with friends, you have to know who they’ll share access with. For example, maybe one of your friends trusts their significant other with the keys to the storage unit – do you? It’s important to figure this out in advance, so there are no unpleasant surprises.
  • Figure out what a contract looks like.

How will you handle the finances?

What if someone ends up unable to pay? Most people do live paycheck to paycheck in these times. Maybe someone gets fewer hours this month or gets an unexpected medical emergency. What happens with the unit then? Of course, the unit owner would be in their right to block the unit, since after all, the bill isn’t paid. So, you have to think about that, even if it’s uncomfortable. Will the rest of the friends cover the bill, so the broke friend can pay them back later? If that can’t happen, what will happen? Of course, you can work on minimizing that possibility by having a strong budget and sticking to it. Especially if you’re moving locally!

Sharing a storage unit with friends can be difficult if everyone's money situation is unstable.
And, of course, debts pile up…and pile up… and pile up…

What will you put in the storage unit?

This is also surprisingly important! No matter if you just need a place to fit your winter clothes in the summer, or a place to put your statues while searching for fine art movers NYC, it’s important to have it planned in advance. After all, you have to pick a storage unit that works for all of you! That will also affect payment – if you’re stashing a box or two, and your friend is stashing a pool table, should you pay the equal share of the rent? Yes or no? You’ll have to discuss this before you commit to anything. This is doubly important if your friends are trying to put something illegal in the storage unit, but if you decide to get into a legal contract with people doing a crime, well… you shouldn’t be surprised if it goes badly.

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