One of the worst parts of living in NYC is moving. You can’t bring your furniture on the subway, a cab will never stop, and getting a moving truck near your front door is almost impossible. That’s why many New Yorkers simply buy cheap furniture and get rid of it when they have to move. But what exactly are you supposed to do with it?
Leaving Old Furniture On The Curb
Unlike in most neighborhoods, you can’t just leave your furniture on the curb for someone to take in New York City. To begin with, it’s illegal for someone to take items left on the curb. Anything you leave out becomes city property, and no one is allowed to touch it even if you leave up a sign saying it’s free.
You also can’t just leave your furniture out for trash collection. Bulk items require a special appointment for pickup. They’re free to schedule if you can get an appointment, but getting the right time can be difficult if you don’t want to be without furniture before your moveout date.
In addition, your landlord might have something to say about you leaving furniture out. They can set rules on how you bring furniture out of the building and where you can leave it. In many cases, they’ll simply ban leaving things out on the curb. Since they’re the property owner, it’s within their rights to do so unless you managed to have furniture disposal included in your lease.
Donating Used Furniture
New York City has a wide range of donation options available. This includes big names like Goodwill and The Salvation Army, local churches and charities, and other specialized non-profits.
If you don’t already have an organization in mind, you can check out donateNYC for a complete list of organizations that accept donations in the city. Some will come to you, while others won’t help you much because they require you to bring your furniture to them. More on that later.
Selling Used Furniture
You can also sell your used furniture on websites like Craigslist and Facebook, in traditional classified ads, to consignment shops, or directly to other people. The trouble here isn’t so much where to list your furniture but how hard it will be to actually sell.
Most consignment shops and other middlemen won’t come to you unless you have something very valuable. Even then, the pickup costs will reduce what you receive for your furniture.
If you go the private route, you could find a steady stream of lowballers, flakes, and just plain crazy people before you find a reasonable buyer. Remember, these are the same people you ride the subway with.
In most cases, you’ll be disappointed with how much you got for your furniture especially when you add up the hours it took to sell it all.
Why Is No One Willing to Pay for Used Furniture?
Remember how you took the ferry down to Ikea or just had everything mailed to you off of Amazon, Overstock, Walmart, or Wayfair? Everyone else had the same idea.
Assemble-it-yourself disposable furniture that comes in a nice little box right to your door is one of the most popular furniture buying options for renters precisely because of how cheap and easy it is. For just a few dollars more than buying used, you get brand new items with delivery included. There’s no hassle of dealing with strangers, trying to lug the furniture back to your apartment, or hoping someone’s Ikea handiwork doesn’t fall apart in the process. This type of furniture is so cheap now that it has almost no resale value.
Trying to get rid of furniture that’s a little higher end — maybe something you got from a relative? Nobody wants that, either. Traditional furniture, that’s heavier, more difficult to move, old, and brown, is out. Disposable furniture is in. Sure, some people might want your old, brown furniture but the demand is far less than the supply created by aging generations downsizing and finding out their kids don’t want their stuff. Unless your furniture is a truly high-quality antique or a top of the market piece, you’ll be lucky if you can get even pennies on its original purchase price.
Why Don’t Charities Want Your Furniture?
Charities don’t want your old furniture, either. In many cases, donations are sold through thrift shops to the same people that you’d be trying to sell to. If your furniture doesn’t sell, the charity has to spend time and money disposing of it. They also have to make enough money to cover the costs of picking it up from you — which is why many charities are now very picky about what furniture they’ll pick up for free.
For charities that directly use the furniture, they usually have better options than hoping someone’s old Ikea furniture doesn’t fall apart. This includes bulk buying new, cheap furniture or working with large estate sellers.
Simply put, charities are trying to further their own mission not provide you with a free way to dispose of your stuff. Many furniture donations would end up losing their money, so donations to charity don’t work out.
The Bed Bug Scare
Bed bugs are also another big reason why no one wants used furniture anymore. They can be almost impossible to detect within a cushion or pillow, but getting just a few into your home can mean almost literally burning it and all of your clothes and furniture to the ground. This makes it much harder to get rid of soft furniture, like sofas, and hard furniture, like wood tables, already falls into the rule of no one wants old, brown furniture.
The Risk of Damage When Selling Furniture
Whether you sell, donate, or give away your furniture, there’s the risk of damage to your apartment or the building’s common areas when someone comes to move it. Even if you didn’t directly cause the damage yourself, you’re still on the hook for it as the person who let them into your building.
When you’re dealing with a reputable furniture reseller, junk removal company, or charity, they should have insurance to cover potential damage. You should ask to see proof of insurance, and your building may require you to give management a certificate of insurance before any move or any move out cleaning.
If you’re dealing with an individual you met online, you may not have enough contact information to get them to pay up for any damage. Even if you do, it could take a small claims court case before you can get them to pay up.
If you do choose to roll the dice and hope nothing happens, you could still end up with a nosy super who is worried about damage trying to put a stop to your move — or ratting you out to management if there’s an “illegal” moving fee in your lease.
How to Stay Safe When Selling Furniture
If you do decide to sell your furniture, here are a few tips that can keep you safe.
- Try to deal with people you know — coworkers, friends of friends, etc. If you sell to strangers, use a third-party app that verifies the identities of people who sign up. Even if you don’t have their personal information, the police can retrieve it from the app if needed.
- Using a marketplace that has payment processing, like PayPal or an escrow system, can help alleviate concerns over handling large amounts of cash or getting a bad check.
- Never meet a stranger alone except in a public place such as a well-trafficked street or lobby. Don’t meet in a quiet side street, a lobby with everyone gone for the day, or your own apartment.
- Have the right number of people to lift the furniture plus at least one extra to hold doors. Don’t hurt yourself trying to lift too much.
- If the person taking your furniture is coming to you, have a helper so you can bring the furniture down to their truck rather than them coming up to your apartment. If they need to come up to your apartment, let your doorman or a neighbor know what’s going on ahead of time so they can keep an eye on things and check in on you if you don’t swing by to tell them everything went smoothly.
- If you’re dealing with a business or charity and aren’t sure if they’re legitimate, you can call 3-1-1 for assistance. You can also call 3-1-1 if you feel you’ve been ripped off or overcharged.
- When possible, schedule furniture removal after you’ve moved your valuables to your new home. This reduces the risk of theft during the move or if you meet with someone who decides to burglarize you.
Get Help Cleaning Out Your Apartment
If you need help getting furniture out of your apartment or just getting a final clean to make sure you get your full security deposit back, Maid Sailors is here to help. We provide a full range of home cleaning services by bonded and insured cleaning professionals. Call, text, or chat now for a quote.