Are those crates of vintage jazz LPs and your forever-growing collection of 1930s-era hardboiled crime novels getting in the way of your pared-down, semi-nomadic lifestyle? Is stuff — stuff that you don’t really need but can’t part with for one reason or another — preventing you from shedding square-footage and taking up residence in much smaller digs? Are a few dust-covered boxes filled with Troll dolls the only thing standing between you and a mortgage-free existence?
Meet Roost, the sharing economy’s just-launched answer to the self-storage unit. The premise is simple: Those with half-empty attics, unoccupied garagess, or an abundance of vacant closets connect with local (local being key here) folks who are desperately seeking stash space but may be reluctant to sign a monthly rental agreement for an expensive and/or not easily accessible self-storage unit.
Like Airbnb, ParkatmyHouse, and other peer-to-peer online marketplaces before it, everyone (well, everyone aside from the proprietors of commercial self-storage facilities) benefits from Roost: “Hosts” earn extra income by renting out unused spaces. "Renters” are liberated from possessions — hard-to-part with collectables, bulky luggage, family keepsakes, sports equipment, seasonal décor and clothing, etc. — that might not be easily stored/stashed/stowed in their already filled-to-capacity homes. Renters can also enjoy the peace of mind that their seasonal windsock collection is staying close to home — in the basement of a friendly neighbor instead of at some spendy (and potentially creepy) self-storage joint across town.
Roost storage rentals can be arranged on both a short-term and long-term basis. Accessibility is largely dependant on the host. Some hosts may allow renters to visit their stored items whenever they please while other hosts may require that visits be scheduled in advance. Some hosts may opt for a “no access” scenario in which the stored possessions can only be accessed when the host permanently retrieves them.
For now, Roost is only available in San Francisco and environs although the startup is looking to expand beyond the Bay Area and into other cities dependant on how space-strapped — and space-blessed — San Francisco residents react to the platform.
Those who might balk at the idea of stashing stuff in a stranger’s crawlspace or backyard shed, needn't worry. Before settling on anything, Roost renters can get to know space-offering hosts through public profiles, where, like Airbnb, they receive ratings and reviews from users. Hosts also submit to a criminal background check before becoming a part of the Roost community. An insurance policy, the Roost Guarantee, covers renters in the event that stuff is broken, goes missing, etc. while being stored at someone else’s home. Roost also recommends that renters check in with their existing homeowner’s or renter’s insurance (or buying it if they don’t already have it) for an additional level or protection as some policies cover possessions that are stored off premises.
And it goes without saying, Roost users might want to think extra hard if they're considering storing an item or items of significant monetary or personal value (i.e. grandmother’s priceless jewels) with a host. While Roost has set itself up to be as secure as possible, the peer-to-peer self-storage platform should not be viewed as an alternative to taking out a safe deposit box at the local bank.
It's also worth noting that items such as radioactive materials, stolen goods, fireworks, biological waste, weapons, and animals, alive or dead, are forbidden from being stored through a Roost reservation arrangement. Furthermore, Roost hosts have the right to inspect and verify a renter’s items before they officially agree to store them. A host can cancel a reservation if the contents of a potential renter's plastic bins gives him or her the heebie-jeebies.
Any thoughts? Would you give a peer-to-peer self-storage platform like Roost a shot? Or does the very concept make you uneasy despite the safeguards in place? Would you rather just spend the extra money — and sacrifice the time and convenience — by renting out a commercial self-storage unit?
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