- Why should I use a house sitter?
If you have pets your animals can be cared for at home, happy and stress free, rather than having to endure the trauma and cost of taking them to kennels. Pets would much prefer to stay in their own environment where they feel safe and secure, are far less prone to risk of infections such as kennel cough or gastric problems very common in multiple care facilities.
If you are going away for any length of time, it is statistically much safer to leave your home occupied, rather than empty. Many homes left empty for over 30 days are not insured, and the practical consideration of upkeep means that an empty home can look blatantly empty after little time, therefore attracting burglars.
There is also the issue of keeping your garden maintained. Not just the grass cut so your home looks lived in, but a few days without water, and many of your cherished plants could be at risk of withering away.
And if you own a holiday home, or somewhere that you spend a while away from, do you want to spend ages clearing it up each time you visit, or would you rather it was clean and sparkly for when you arrive, like a newly valeted car?
For so many reasons, finding the right trusted house sitter to keep your home maintained and pets cared for at home, is therefore a far better option than leaving your home empty and pets in kennels.
- My family's concern is having a "Stranger" in our home, how do I put their minds at rest?
The tried and tested concept of house sitting from both the home owners and sitters perspective is a win win. With credible references, police clearances and detailed profiles the "stranger" element of this mutually trusting arrangement is removed. Sitters come from many different backgrounds including law enforcement, veterinary professionals, animal welfare organizations, teachers, legal and medical professions, both John and I are retired execs with many years spent working in positions of trust. Our many grateful and happy clients around the world are proof positive that engaging a trusted house sitter is the recipe for happy, stress free pets and travel with absolute peace of mind.
I know I have sitters in my home whenever John and I are on assignment which can be nine months of the year.
When they arrive to start our "sit" we're welcoming new found friends, never strangers!
- What do insurance companies think of using a house sitter?
Many homeowners are not aware that most home insurance policies to do not cover homes that are empty for over 30 days. Even if they do, often premiums can become very expensive. In cold locations, such as many parts of Canada, many insurance companies do not even cover if a home is empty for over 4 days due to the risk of burst pipes during the winter months.
Most insurance companies love the concept of house sitting. Those we've spoken to would rather have a house sitter booked than leave a home empty and at risk of burglary. We do just advise that you discuss this with your insurance company before committing to a house sitter, to check any specific policy requirements.
- Should I pay for a house sitter or not?
Some house sitters expect to be paid, and some don’t. It’s up to you if you want to find a house sitter that charges or not. Most house sitters are happy to house sit for free in return for a nice place to retreat to.
Some house sitters that charge offer a full range of help over and above the norm, and many that don't do the same. We'd just suggest that if you're paying a house sitter, it is going to the house sitter, rather than an agency.
We believe that what is most important when considering an ideal house / pet sitter is the caliber of the sitter and their caring qualities, not how much they charge. You will likely find many sitters with the perfect attributes that do not charge, but have the qualities that you require. Be mindful also if your sitter is coming from overseas, unless they hold an EU Passport and you're within the European Community, charging for house sitting is paid employment and they will need to have permission/working visa.
- Why not use a traditional style house sitting agency?
You can use a traditional style house sitting agency and get referenced and police-checked house sitters, but pay a fortune. In many cases, you also don’t know who will be sent, by choosing your own house sitter the control of whom you have in your home is never taken out of your hands. It's so easy to do your own due diligence by the time your sitters arrive you will know more about them than many of your immediate neighbours.
- Is a house sitter insured?
From my research, unpaid house sitters are usually covered under your home / pet insurance policy. As a prudent check, I suggest checking with your insurance provider to confirm this is the case for your policy.
- Do you charge for your services?
Under normal circumstances no, however if you need specialist care, ie B&B coverage, kennels, stables, anything which isn't normal home and pet care then we'll go into negotiations.
- What sort of people become house sitters?
House sitters come from many walks of life, every age, experience, couples, singles, mature professionals or retirees many have just decided to get off the hamster wheel of life to stop and smell the roses. It's a big world out there full of promise and opportunity. They are responsible, caring people looking to house sit for any number or reasons - maybe they just would just like a retreat without staying in the usual type of hotel or resort, maybe they would like to work remotely, or just enjoy some peace and quiet. For some, like John and I, this is a chosen travel lifestyle which allows them to indulge in their passion for travel whilst providing a meaningful service. Many sitters and we are a real part of this category may have been a pet owner in the past, and enjoy looking after pets, so find pet sitting a therapeutic way to spend some time relaxing.
House sitters come from a variety of backgrounds - veterinary surgeons, pilots, clerics, medics, retired police, CEOs, writers, animal rescue centre staff - and as mentioned, many people who have owned a pet in the past and would just relish the idea of looking after pets while you are away, or people that just lead busy lives and would like some time out to care for a property and relax.
- Why use a house sitter rather than a friend or family?
Do you really want to burden friends or family? Fine if they would be overjoyed to come and stay and look after your home and pets properly, but not if it presents a hassle to them and unfortunately, many people these days are either reluctant to, or just do not have the time to help out.
A house sitter has a different kind of obligation to look after your home, pets and garden. Many have years of home care experience, and they will be willing to look after your home, rather than feeling disrupted, which may be the case if a friend or family member is asked to do so.
- What if you have specific requirements or skills to ask of a house sitter or pet sitter?
If you have specific pet care requirements, list them, and you can search for house sitters with bespoke experience, for example, experience of looking after horses or reptiles.
If you require someone with, say, gardening ability, or a handyman, state that. Bear in mind the longer the house sit, the more appropriate this might be. Asking for a spring cleaning expert for a weekend house sit might be a bit unreasonable, but someone looking after a remote beach house for 6 months might need some specific practical skills if you have something that needs fixing.
Be very honest about your expectations, house sitters are there to care for your pets (priority#1) and to keep your home secure and maintained in the manner you left it. They are not there to provide a cleaning service, be project managers or landscape gardeners.
- What happens once you find an ideal house sitter?
Communicate, communicate, communicate!! When I contact you it's because we're very interested in giving you our best service and commitment. We have many assignments each year, house sitting is a life style choice for us. Whilst you the home owner, have just one project we have many to plan, logistics can be challenging sometimes. Our main aim is not to disappoint anyone who requests our services, we're flexible and will take on short notice house sits if possible. Most of the time however we're working six to nine months in advance but we will never apply for an assignment without giving all of the aspects, as we know them, careful consideration to do so is a waste of everyone's time.
Just as you appreciate and deserve honesty from us, we appreciate the same in return. Please be honest about your expectations, for example we're OCD when it comes to clean and tidy .... you can literally eat off our floors:)) Even when we had pets of our own our home was spotless. So if your living style is relaxed, rustic and "lived in" which isn't a problem of course, we'd like to know. If your internet isn't the most reliable please, please let us know John requires this for work, a real necessity where we're concerned.
Ask any specific questions discuss all of your needs and expectations including the possibility of any visitors or time spent away from the home. Ask for direct contact details of referees, follow these up yourself should you feel it necessary, just to be prudent.
If distance makes meeting a potential house sitter harder there are so many other options these days thanks to technology. Skype is brilliant an easy way to meet and get aquainted. Most computers now have a webcam, so you can talk to and see your potential house sitter, giving you much more confidence in ensuring their suitability. Once you've completed all of these steps finally rely on your instinct and intuition, it will never let you down. On the day you welcome the sitter into your home you'll be saying hello to a friend, a friend you're meeting for the very first time
- Can I use a house sitter if I rent my accommodation?
You need to check with you landlord/ rental agreement first, but if OK, it works exactly the same way.
- What should I do to prepare for a house sitter?
I suggest making a pack which you can re-use containing as much information as possible. Categorise information about the home, mail, garbage collection, main fuse box and water shut off, internet log on details and service provide contact info.,duties required, pets, feeding routines, emergency contact numbers for home and pet requirements and any information about the local area can be a big help too.
I also recommend considering your house sitters needs whilst they may arrive with suitcases they don't particularly want to be living out of them! Provide drawer and hanging space, a bathroom cupboard at least a shelf would be considerate as would space in the larder and a clear and clean fridge. Bed made with freshly laundered linen, clean towels even a new bar of soap, some shampoo/conditioner in fact think "Hotel Room, what do I expect to find on arrival?" Remember also 80% of the time sitters are coming to look after the precious furry ones present them as you want them looked after, groomed and smelling sweet (if it's a doggy especially) also make sure their bedding is clean and fresh. Always, always, leave your home as you'd like to find it - obviously the better you leave things for your house sitter, the more likely the sitter will have your home sparkling for you upon your return.
- Who pays the utility bills while I have a house sitter in the house?
There is no fixed answer to this, it depends on the assignment, although generally for any house sit of a few weeks or less, the home-owner usually pays, whereas for longer sits, for example, a few months, there is usually an arrangement whereby the house sitter would pay the utility bills.
- Do I need to provide a car?
There is no obligation to provide transport but if you live in a rural area and own transport isn't an option if your vehicle is being left at home I believe providing this convenience can mean the difference between getting the sitter you want, or not. Car rental is very expensive, especially long term. Another consideration is what if your pets need urgent veterinary care, rides to favourite walks, or just daily outings because it's what they're used, this shouldn't be a cost to your house sitter also many car rental companies do not pets being transported in their vehicles.
- What happens with cancellations?
Please consider that once a firm agreement with a house sitter has been made they may have purchased travel tickets which could be non-refundable or they may have made other changes in order to help you with your home and pets. In the case of unavoidable cancellation (death or serious illness in the family) contact your house sitter without delay.