What You Should Know Before Getting A House Sitter


Sitting On The Issue

If you’re thinking of going away for vacation, you might consider hiring a house sitter. House sitters can mow the lawn, water plants, take care of your pets, and, most importantly, make your home look occupied when you’re not there. Sitters keep intruders at bay and your home safe.

Your future house sitter will be living in your home as long as you’re gone, so you need to know who you can trust, what to say, and what not to say to a house sitter in order to keep your home secure while you’re away. Here are four things to consider when hiring a house sitter:

SEE ALSO: Vacation Prep: Hiding Your Valuables

1. Choose Someone You Can Trust

Your first option for a house sitter should be a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor. The closer a person is to you, the better off you are.

If no one close to you is available, use a reliable house sitter website like TrustedHouseSitters.com . Rachel Martin of TrustedHouseSitters.com explained that this website shows if house sitters, “have a police check, references, photos, information about themselves, video profiles, relevant house sitting and pet sitting experience, [and more].”

Also, keep the age of your house sitter in mind. Teenagers are more prone to make errors when house sitting. On the other hand, elderly sitters might not be able to perform as many tasks as their younger counterparts, and can be forgetful. It’s best to choose a sitter who has a home of their own because they are more familiar with the regular maintenance of a home.

2. Set Ground Rules

Before heading on vacation, give your house sitter instructions on running your home. House sitters need to know exactly what you expect of them. Writing down douse rules limits the number of calls you receive from the house sitter (with questions like “how often do I feed your dogs?”) and will hold the house sitter accountable for errors.

“We recommend if a homeowner has not met with the house sitter prior to a sit, that they invite the house sitter to arrive the night before they leave,” Martin said,  “It's a great opportunity to discuss any details such as recycling days, how appliances work, emergency contact details, pet schedules and feeding information. “

Discussing the rules of the house will also make clear to the sitter what is (and is not) acceptable. If you do not want your sitter to have a friend over for any length of time, you need to tell him that. Otherwise, he might assume that it’s ok to invite friends over.

Here are some often overlooked pieces of information a house sitter should know about:

  • How to turn off your alarm system
  • Who to call in the event of a gas, electric, or water-related emergency
  • Anyone who might drop-in: a family member looking for an item, a package you’re expecting, or a neighbor who you always lend your gardening tools to
  • How to turn on/turn off the television (if it’s overly complex) and what your WiFi password is
  • When to take out the trash and recycling bins
  • The address and phone number of a trusted veterinarian (if you have a pet)

Another item homeowners often forget to mention is, “where the water stop cock is.” According to Martin, “[house sitters] need to be armed with all the relevant information.”

3. Don’t Reveal Too Much

There are some things better left unsaid to your house sitter (like where you stash all your money). Do not share these secrets:

  • Where your security cameras are and how they operate
  • What is included in your home monitoring system
  • If you have a safe, and where it is
  • Where you usually hide your keys, or which entryways are usually unlocked (you should lock all entryways and provide your sitter with a key to one door)
  • Where your credit card information is

SEE ALSO: What Are the Different Types Of Alarm Sensors?

4. Keep An Eye On Your Home

Even if you’re only gone for a few days, monitor your home. The best way to do so is through a home security system with video cameras. If you can access a live stream of your living room, you can see if your sitter is doing exceptionally well or ignoring what you said, and act accordingly.

Another way of monitoring your home is to ask a trusted neighbor to be on the lookout. This neighbor could (and will gladly) contact you if your sitter is throwing a party without your permission, or neglecting your property and pets. If you provide this neighbor with a key, he or she can also check up on your pets and take care of them if your sitter is not. That way, you can sleep peacefully on your vacation knowing your house and pets are secure.

The key to having a good relationship with your house sitter is communication. From the very beginning, homeowners should be, “checking out [a house sitter’s] references and communicating lots with them,” Martin said. “Skype is an excellent tool to use. You can 'virtually' meet prior to making any decisions.”

Date of original publication:
Updated on: November 10, 2015

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