If you have decided to house sit during your career break or offer up your own home to a sitter, in order to save some money, well done…it’s a great idea!
And, you may well be a home owner already, so you’ll find it is all common sense really – care for the housesit as you would your own. Here are a few tips to help get the best of the house-sitting situation for both sitters and owners. It is useful to bear in mind that people have different expectations and standards so it is best to be clear as possible what yours are from the outset.
'Do unto others as you would have others do unto you' works very well as the house-sitting credo for both parties.
Finding a sit
- Post a photo of yourself/selves on your housesitting profile, looking comfortable and relaxed. Add one with pets if possible.
- Be clear on your reasons why you want to house-sit. Home-owners will ask.
- Your first email should be short and to the point responding to each of the criterion an owner has outlined in their post.
- If you have had experience, refer to it and post scanned in copies of references on your profile.
- Your profile wording should be concise, upbeat and honest.
Finding a sitter
- Be clear on sit duration e.g. dates you will be away.
- In your post, use photos of your home, and if applicable your pets as well.
- List local amenities in your post.
- Decide if you want to charge a bond/deposit and if so be clear on what that is.
- Be open and honest with your prospective sitters in terms of your expectations.
- A nice cup of tea tends to break the ice.
- Find out where a prospective sitter works, use professional references, they can be a good guide.
- Ensure travellers are aware of the fact that they need to spend the majority of the time in your home to ensure they uphold responsibilities in terms of garden maintenance, pet care or just the basic security of having someone in the house on a regular basis.
- Be punctual for meetings, whether face-to-face or virtual - particularly the first one. First impressions do count.
- References are very important. House-sitting is very competitive so good references will give you the edge. Always make sure you get a reference from any sit you do. If you haven’t house-sat before then rental references also help.
- Generally, home-owners tend to prefer people who know the house-sitting ropes but you can always impress by attending interviews well-dressed which doesn’t necessarily mean a business suit but clean, tidy and neat are musts.
- Some people are more house-proud than others but use your noggin and if you see white carpets beyond the threshold, offer to take your shoes off before entering a house.
- If logistically possible, invite owners to visit you at your home or at a current sit so they can see first-hand how you keep a place.
- Be genuinely interested and ask relevant and intelligent questions about home and garden maintenance and pet care.
During the sit
- A good idea to ensure you return the house the way you found it is to take photos of it to refer to before you leave. That way you can make sure the hedges are the right height or ornaments are left in the same place you found them.
- Take a photo of the pet or a particular plant in new bloom to email to the home-owner to reassure them that everything is tickety-boo in their absence.
- Maintain regular email contact, not too often though, just often enough to assure the owner/s that all is in order.
- If the agreement is that you will be paying utilities make sure you record moving in and moving out dates.
Handing back the house
- It is always a lovely idea to have the bare essentials in the fridge for the owners’ return like milk, bread and maybe something to make a sandwich with or some cheese and crackers. A bottle of wine and/or flowers is pushing the boat out a little but it is a nice gesture and acknowledgment of your appreciation.
- Check the inventory as soon as you can on your return to make sure you return the sitter’s bond/deposit without delay.
Good luck and please do add any tips based on your experience to the comments below!