How much is your clutter really worth?

Storing some of your non-essential possessions in self storage instead of your spare room could save Londoners thousands of pounds annually, according to research by Deloitte Real Estate.

The research, part of the Self Storage Association’s annual survey, shows the cost of renting an additional bedroom in various boroughs across Greater London. Renters in the capital often rent an additional bedroom despite not using it for accommodation. This room then becomes used for the storage of non-essential items such as seasonal clothes, sports equipment, music and personal effects.

By using a local self storage facility and downsizing the dwelling to a room less, or renting the bedroom to a lodger, the saving could be as much as £4500 annually. For example, the cost of renting an additional bedroom in Hammersmith & Fulham is £120 per week and the equivalent rent for storing a room’s worth of clutter in self storage is just £32.50 per week (based on a 50 sq ft of storage space).

The research gives the average rents in a cross section of London boroughs including Wandsworth at £85 per week, Brent at £66.50 and Lewisham at £52 per week. Even the cheaper boroughs offer significant savings if self storage was used as an alternative.

Ollie Saunders, partner and head of self storage at Deloitte Real Estate, said: “We’ve taken an average size bedroom and calculated the equivalent volume of ‘clutter’ that becomes stored in this space. Self storage facilities are often within a few miles of our home and accessible 24/7 on flexible terms. There’s no doubt storage is at a premium in many city dwellings so it is worth considering the convenience of storing our not day-to-day items such as golf clubs, instruments, ski gear and Christmas decorations as a money saving option. People would argue the spare room is where guests stay, but if that space is predominantly used for storage, it’s certainly a viable alternative.”

A recent report by The Royal Institute of British Architects has highlighted the shrinking average size of newly-built houses in the UK, with the majority of people surveyed moving into new homes reporting insufficient storage space for all their possessions.

The self storage survey also shows there is nearly 8.5 million sq ft of self storage space in Greater London, the equivalent of 10 times Buckingham Palace. This is eight times more space than the next largest UK city – Manchester with just over half a million sq ft.

Saunders said: “We’ve seen a growing trend for business customers taking space with over a third of occupied space now coming from businesses. Nationally the average customer’s length of stay is 41 weeks and rents 77 sq ft of space.

“The industry has also remained resilient despite the addition of the 20% VAT charge on storage costs introduced in October 2012.  Our research shows the increase has been phased in over a period of months by many self storage firms thus protecting consumers from the full impact of any price hikes.”

The survey reports there are approximately 830 self storage facilities in the UK providing in the region of 30.1 million sq ft of storage space. Deloitte Real Estate estimates the total turnover for the UK industry in 2012 was £380million from around 400 different operators, employing more than 2000 fulltime equivalent staff. Of all the facilities in the UK, 330 are held by larger operators (40%), with small operators accounting for the remainder.

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