My wife and I often host various friends of ours who need a short term place to stay (e.g. a 1-2 week gap between leases).

Often, when the friend moved out, they've said something like "I can't fit all these things in my car right now. Is it okay if I come back to get the rest later this week?" To which, we say "Sure." The issue we've had with several people now is that they never come back to get this stuff.

We remain on good terms with these people, they still live in the same town as us, and they have cars that they could use to transport these items. We've reached out a number of times both through text and in person to ask them to come take their stuff. They always say they'll come soon to get it, but then they don't. In some cases, this has gone on for years.

These things have ranged from insignificant, like dish soap, to more expensive things, like a desktop computer, though nothing as big as furniture. Each person's things should easily fit in a car. Nevertheless, we don't want to be storing these things long term. Some things that I've thought about doing (but haven't done yet) are:

  • Issuing an ultimatum, e.g. "I am cleaning out my basement this weekend, and if you don't come take your things, I am going to throw/give them away."

  • Packing up their things and bringing them to their new home myself.

I'm hesitant to do either of those things though, because they seem a little passive aggressive. What can I do to get my friends to take their things? And how can I do it without creating hostility?


I have a friend who wanted to store something in my garage over the winter. That wasn't a problem for me until "over the winter" evolved into long-term (several years) storage.

I think we both want to be helpful and not cause tension, but both of us wound up being taken advantage of. In my case, I gave the friend 3 months to remove the property and a firm date. In my case, I explained that I had stored this much longer than we agreed to, and I needed it removed by X date. Luckily there wasn't an "or else?" regarding this; it was more a realization that I had done more than my share.

I would advise against being a delivery service. They're not your things, and you've done your friends a favor by storing them. Now, if you deliver them, you set the expectation that if they forget stuff (or can leave stuff), you'll bring it to them. That will commit you to a course of action that you can't maintain over the long haul. I've had that happen too many times to think about doing that again. "It's your stuff- if it matters to you, come and get it."

My recommendation here is to do the other of the things you thought of. It's not issuing an ultimatum, but it is setting expectations. "Hey, X. It was fun seeing you, but some things got left behind. Can you pick them up by (2 weeks from today), or should I throw them away for you? I'm running out of storage space and can't keep it any longer". By wording it this way, you're saying that it was an oops, that there's a date to remove them by, and advising of the consequence if they don't pick the stuff up. If your friends get hostile over the stuff they left behind and won't pick it up, I'd suggest that they're taking advantage of you and not very valuable friends anyway.


You may even play a trick (feel free to add variation).

Discuss with the friend and agree to meet him at his apartment (whatever reason you choose). When you visit, use the opportunity to deliver their stuff.

It is not perfect, but gets the job done. You do not need to discuss a lot, he cannot get upset, since he receives his stuff for free.

Assumption: the stuff you keep on their behalf fits in your car / taxi. If you need like three buses... it may be more difficult.

Note: as of now, you are (kind of) in a lose-lose situation. Your friend does not want his stuff back, you don't want to keep it. You need to decide:

  • you want to be upset for storing "garbage";
  • you want to be upset if your friend is unreasonable.

If your friend is reasonable, there will be no problem if you apply the trick presented. If your friend is unreasonable, maybe you should give it a thought about the reasons of his friendship. In a way (maybe all ways?) he is practically abusing you and the friendship.

Other edit:

  • I just noticed that you had in mind something similar with the trick I proposed. The difference is: do not visit jus for returning the stuff. Use a different opportunity for that. Make it a "2-in-1": visit AND returning stuff. It is theirs anyway, right?
  • if they are passive aggressive already, you have already lost. No matter what you do, they will still find a reason to get angry.

Unfortunately, the only known way to "cure" passive aggressiveness is to break all contacts with it - a difficult choice (and sometimes impossible).

  • 1
    OP is worried this might be seen as passive-aggressive. Do you have any backup as to why this won't be the case?
    – Ael
    Feb 20 '19 at 9:51
  • Added extra comment, tnx. But with regard to passive aggressiveness, I think you got it wrong: "because they seem a little passive aggressive"
    – virolino
    Feb 20 '19 at 9:57
  • I'm not sure I understand your answer, are you saying that there isn't any peaceful (and nice for everyone) way out of this?
    – Ael
    Feb 20 '19 at 10:05
  • No, I am only saying it is a difficult situation. I have met people in my life with passive aggressive behavior. Sometimes it seemed that my mere existence made them angry. So finding an optimum is quite difficult. Of course, no two people and no two situations are identical.
    – virolino
    Feb 20 '19 at 10:07
  • Because of the experiences I had, I studied (only on the internet, true) both topics: passive aggressiveness and psychological manipulation. The conclusion for both is usually and mostly the same: the best way to deal with it is to get out, or to be prepared to suffer indefinitely :(
    – virolino
    Feb 20 '19 at 10:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.