The Sofas on the Side of the Road Are Killing My Property Value!


Not my neighborhood couch.

I’ve been in my former hoarders fixer house for a while now. And, as was always the plan, I will sell it — if the universe and my credit score allow– upon or just prior to or just after my youngest kids’ graduation from high school. I have a couple of years, but I’m thinking ahead. I probably won’t see a dime in return on investment for all the improvements I’ve made to my little hoarders home. There are a lot of reasons. But for this post I’ll focus here on my neighbors’ damn sofas sitting on the side of the road because that’s what’s bothering me today, every day.

Sofas, couches, easy chairs. Whatever you call them. Indoor furniture that is banished outside to publicly decompose for all to see — it’s the worst lawn decor ever.

It’s the modern day real estate equivalent to the head on a stick.

It’s crap like this that will lower my property value and keep it low — which is good for the contractors who want to buy low and rent or flip high — but bad for me. There are plenty of regular folks looking for an affordable houses in a nice neighborhood in a good school district, but because of the ever present sofas on the side of the road, it makes my neighborhood seem, well, not so nice.

Have you ever wondered why people put sofas outside which stay there for weeks, months, even years?

I have my theories.

1. They got a new couch. So they put the old one outside.

2. The old couch had something nasty happen to it — of the urine or vomit variety –that they just couldn’t get out.

3. The old couch had something smokey happen to it — the old cigarette in the cushions . . .

But wait!

This only explains why the couch leaves the house, not why it stays outside.

Here are my theories on why they stay outside.

1. There is no free bulk trash pickup in the neighborhood.

2. Bulk trash pick-up is costly and low income (poor) people can’t or won’t allocate their money to pay for it.

I get it. Paying extra for trash removal can be a hard pill to swallow if you are having trouble paying regular bills. (Query: How much money was shelled out on the new sofa? Perhaps the $25 bulk trash fee should be built into the cost of getting the new couch?)

Regardless, there’s a solution. If you are able bodied you can save the $25 by breaking up the couch and putting it in the regular trash. I’ve done this. I’ve seen other people do this. It’s actually kind of fun if you want to get out some aggression.

And another option is, if the sofa is old but not ruined, put it on Craigslist for free. Someone will take it. Craigslist people won’t pay a dollar for something, but if you say it’s free? They’ll take it. They’ll even take it from your house. If you don’t want strangers in your house, just plan to put the couch out on a sunny weekend, post the ad, and it will go away — for free. I’ve done this. More than once. If it’s truly trashed, this isn’t an option, but it’s worth a try.

The Bermuda Triangle on

The Bermuda Triangle on “How I Met Your Mother”

3. I’m waiting for bulk trash pick-up.

But dude, how long are you going to wait?

Once a year, our Township provides dumpsters for people in my neighborhood to use free of charge for whatever they need to get rid of. But it’s once a year. In the Summer, I believe. It’s Winter now. Will the sofas sit here until July?

A variation on this excuse is: I put it out and wanted to see if the trash guys would take it. Okay, I get that. Because sometimes they might actually take it, or somebody might. This only justifies having an outdoor sofa for a week, though, tops. After a week has gone by of the regular trash people not picking up the sofa, it ain’t going nowhere.

4. Residents must not be physically able to get rid of the couch.

Well, I call bullshit on that one. If a person had the means or muscle to get the couch out of his or her house, they have the means and muscle to put it somewhere where it might get picked up. Obviously there are elderly or disabled (mentally or physically) who cannot maintain their property. I get that. But I’ve seen grown, strong, working men coming and going from these houses with the lawn couches. I call bullshit on them. I know people may have ailments that are not readily visible. I withdraw my calling of bullshit if that is the case. But if not, just putting indoor furniture in your yard and leaving it out in the rain, sleet, and snow until starts to stink, disintegrate, become the nesting ground for vermin and bugs, and just look plain old tacky — I just don’t get that.

The Current Offenders

Right now there are two couches I see every day. Every day.

Every damn day.

Couch Number One. It’s in a back yard, which backs onto my alley and my back yard. I see it from my kitchen window. As I said, every day. As do at least four other houses and all cars that drive along this back alley. Lovely. This placement is curious to me, because their trash gets collected from their front yard. Why put the couch out back, inside their fence, on its side, cushions and all? Why? It won’t get picked up there by anyone. Maybe they are planning to have bulk trash pickup or somebody with a truck come later — but it’s been about a month now. And why leave the cushions? They could certainly go in the regular trash or recycling and this would cut down on the bulk of the sofa in the yard and also make it less inviting for bugs and rats. But no, the couch is outside.

Couch Number Two. This one is on the edge of a front yard of a house on the side of the road. Now this house has always had a messy porch. I don’t know the people, personally, but I’ve seen them come and go. Not elderly or infirm. Driving, working, healthy looking people. It appears as though they are doing some sort of home clean out now because there is more junk outside than usual. Again, having gone through extensive clean outs and renovations I understand that while work is in process, there will be debris, because — it’s a work in progress. But, the couch and cushions have been out there for about a month. I don’t see any evidence of home repairs or renovations going on. It appears as though someone decided to get some crap out of the house so — they just put it outside. Other large trash items have joined the sofa. These other items could have been put out in the regular trash. But, for some reason, the residents are just piling it up on and around the couch.

There’s a school bus stop nearby. Lovely.

These abandoned sofas are like announcements to people, whether they are passing through or coming home. It gives the appearance of,

“You have crossed over into a bad part of town.”

The Good The Bad and the Ugly

When people come to see me, or drop off my kids, they have to pass by one or both of the sofas. It’s far from inviting. It actually repels. And it seems that as soon as a rotting sofa is finally removed, another appears. I remember when we were still in the marital home when it was on the market, as we drove by what is now my neighborhood, my kid said,”I’m not moving over there.” She didn’t know that I had already purchased my little hoarders home there. I told myself at the time, “I’ll make it nice.”

And I did.

I worked my butt off making our home as nice as I could, but I can’t do anything about the neighbors who allow upholstered furniture to rot outside their homes.

I think there’s a psychological reason why people do this. There are some people who are — interior. Most of their relaxation time is spent indoors. They only think of their yard, their porch, and front door as something to pass through to get inside. I guess then it becomes easy to make whatever changes you are making inside the house, and put the debris outside. After all, you’ve gotten it out of the house. It’s kind of like how an apartment dweller can throw things in a dumpster and go back inside, oblivious as to whether the dumpster is ever emptied.

But still . . .

These couches make me sad. It feels like people have just given up and don’t care. And what’s worse? It’s contagious. I would never do the couch thing, and I maintain my yard, but I’ve lost the will to garden or create an outdoor space for entertaining. I mean, why bother? I don’t want to sit outside and look at a rotting sofa while roasting marshmallows. I plan to garden and landscape more this year, to enhance curb appeal, but I confess, my heart’s not in it.

Just Me With . . . plenty of outdoor seating . . . on rotting couches . . . on the side of the road.

It just irks me. And it may cost me.

Related: Piss, Puke, and Porn — My Hoarder’s House

That Hoarder’s Smell — How to Get Rid of It

Goodbye Hoarders — My farewell to the television show

11 responses

  1. Plant clematis in your yard to hide the sofa out back. Poke a stick in the ground and go back inside to make sure you have it just right. Then, plant a clematis on each side of the first.

    Sometimes, people sit on these in the summer, especially when they have no ac. I cannot imagine sitting on a moldy sofa that is probably full of fleas since cats and dogs love the sofa. I hate the sofa on the porch or yard.

    If I were you, I would go ahead and live my life, inviting friends over to your nice yard. If you wait for the sofas not to be there, well, that could be a long time. Although I most definitely agree with you on the tacky look of the neighborhood when sofas are outdoors, I would try to ignore them and entertain outdoors. But, I know I could NOT ignore them…lol…who am I kidding? This time of the year, I am sure the sofas and trash are discouraging. I have some trashy people I can see behind me. They are loud and vulgar, too.

    I have dismantled things or had a friend do it for me so it would fit in the garbage cans. It took about two months of once-a-week garbage pickup.

    My neighbors in the rent house next to me were a single mother and two teens. They dropped McD cups on the walkway and never picked them up. That was a mystery to me because I would have told the children to pick these cups up. But, no, everyone stepped over them.

    1. I built a nice patio and fire pit. A shed partly obscures one of the couches. Depending on finances I might try to get a privacy fence around the whole yard prior to putting it up for sale, some of the rehabbed houses do that, it signals the “I’m not really a part of this neighborhood” and raises the property value. It also makes for a nice courtyard type backyard that doesn’t involve a view of trash. The sofas I’m talking about are not the kind that people put outside to sit on. I know people do that. Not my choice, but at least they are using the seating.But these sofas are put out as trash. I totally get the McD cups mystery. I don’t understand when people don’t pick up their own trash. I see some of that, too, and it’s a bummer because when trash drops on some folks’ property, you know it’ll just stay there. Sigh. There is very little crime in my neighborhood. I think people assume it’s dangerous because of the way it looks. Another sigh.

  2. Correct me if I’m wrong, but are you saying you don’t like sofas on the front lawn?

    1. Heh heh heh. It’s just not my favorite outdoor space design scheme, let’s say.

  3. Do you know the couch neighbors well enough to offer to help them get rid of the couches? Or know other neighbors who know them well enough?

    My thought is getting a few of the neighbors together who also see want to see these things gone and offer to either chop them up and divide for regular trash pickup, or chip in and pay the fee to have them removed.

    I don’t know how touchy these people who put trash in their yards may be. Some may appreciate a “can we help you with that” approach, others may not. Worth a try?

  4. well well well… looking through my OLD blog roll from Blunt Delivery and I’m happy to see you’re still blogging my dear!!! Just trying to hunt down all my old buddies and see if they are still in action! 😉 xoxo

    1. Yes. I’m still here though I don’t post as often. Nice to “see” you!!

  5. Soooo I’m dying to know … is it STILL there? 🙂 :O

    BTW – I post things (unannounced to them) FOR my neighbors when they pull this nonsense. Craigslist it baby! Even if it’s not yours! ; )

    1. Oh my gosh that Craigslist thing is a great idea! The couches are gone now. It took about 4 months. Then another mattress and box-spring appeared but only stayed a little over a week.

  6. When we bought our house it had two dead boats and three dead cars in the back yard, all lined up and evenly spaced like little soldiers left to right. The hoarding of dead vehicles was a major contribution to his ex-wife’s departure. Part of our closing documentation was their removal. The walk-through the evening before closing confirmed their departure.
    After closing the next day, still giddy from the glow of homeownership, we drove to our new house. The five dead spots in the back yard will grow back, we said. Turning, we headed back towards the house to discover the pile of brush by the back wall of the garage was actually an engine block. Covered in yard debris, the prior owner left us a housewarming gift of 600+ lbs of Proud American Iron; a Ford engine upright and rusting happily behind the house.
    Although it’s been a few years, I still check our county’s tax assessor’s website every week or two. That s.o.b. will eventually buy a house and we will regift with a vengeance.

  7. […] not because it only has one bathroom, or because it’s on a busy street, or because there are sofas on the side of the road —  will the deal breaker be that the kitchen is not open and does not show off matching […]

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