No space for all your stuff? Forget about renting storage space — instead, dear tenant, just rent your stuff when you downsize to a well-located apartment.

This is the message of enterprising landlords with space in common areas to install what are essentially vending machines for tenants to rent out household items.

With the size of city-center multi-family units increasingly shrinking, space for items one might traditionally possess, but do not use everyday or need, has disappeared — think, a 12-place setting of china, vacuum, tools, kayak, surfboard, printer, or even board games.

Apartment landlords cash in on this reality by partnering with companies who rent household goods to offer this service to tenants. Landlords who subscribe to this growing trend increase the desirability for their units and earn “other income” from the fees produced by household good rentals, according to the New York Times.

For instance, one such vending company — Tulu — charges landlords an upfront cost of $4,000-$5,000 to install the unit and provide the goods for rent. Then, the income from rented goods is split between the company and the landlords.

Another company — Brevvie — charges landlords a higher upfront cost of $13,000-$16,000 per unit and charges a monthly fee of $199 for customer service and maintaining the goods. The landlords then keep the full amount of revenue generated by the rental income from household items and other goods.

Rental fees range from a few dollars an hour to several dollars for daily rentals. The companies take care of stocking items and replacing those that are lost or damaged.

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Tech keeps up with shrinking home space

Californians are well used to the benefits of the sharing economy, with this being the latest step for crowded and cost-burdened residents to save money and space.

As Californians increasingly choose to live in large cities, where jobs and amenities are plentiful, they also choose to reconfigure the 1950s American Dream: a large suburban home, expansive front- and backyard and the classic white picket fence (the few remote workers excepted).

Thus, the shift to urban living leads to increased density — smaller, more efficient residential units, a different if not better allocation of personal wealth.

Zooming in, residential parcels often contain many (many) housing units, including micro apartments consisting of just 300 to 400 square feet, as well as casitas or grannie flats, some now called accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as the legislative jargon takes hold.

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This new household-goods-rental trend is one step landlords are taking to benefit from the inescapable trajectory of smaller, compact residential units — especially in California’s major metros where the local cultural scene is an extension of the dwelling as an amenity.

Landlords also arrange for these goods-rental stalls to attract more tenants to help combat the rise in vacancy rates which relentlessly advance in recessions, like the 2023-2024 recession we now face.

Better than rental concessions or lowering the rental rate, offering greater and improved tenant on-site amenities is one way to stand out from competing rentals — while enhancing the landlord’s monthly income.

Other ways to attract tenants include:

  • advertising online;
  • partnering with the human resources departments of local businesses to attract tenants;
  • conducting email marketing campaigns;
  • establishing a social media presence for your building;
  • creating search engine optimization (SEO)-friendly website content to boost your search rankings; and
  • building a referral program for use by current tenants.

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