House Sitting 101: What To Expect

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So you read our post on finding free accommodation, you applied for a house sit and you got approved. Yay! But now what?

Here is a handy guide for what’s going to (or should) happen next.

Before The Assignment

Once you have the job there a few things you need to communicate with the homeowner:

  • Sort out dates and times for your arrival; don’t forget when they come back as well.
  • Get the address. It sounds obvious, but ensure you have a copy written down somewhere safe, especially if are questioned as you pass through immigration entering the country.
  • Ensure you are aware of your responsibilities such as feeding pets, watering gardens, and cleaning.
  • Confirm your expectations. Do they need you to pay for utilities? Are you aware of their Internet speed?
  • Sign a contract. We’ve never had to do this, but don’t be surprised if your owner is looking for a little reassurance. Some may even like a copy of your passport for their insurance company or a copy of your flight/train tickets to confirm you are actually coming.
  • Skype call. So far none of our owners have requested this, but we would be happy to speak to our owners in person.
  • Photos. Make sure you are happy with the property and the animals by requesting additional photographs if needed.
  • If there is a car involved, ask the Owner to add you to their insurance policy. It shouldn't cost extra, but offer to pay if it does. 
  • Ask these standard questions:
    • What days (and times) does the trash get collected each week?
    • Where is the pet food stored (assuming they have pets)?
    • Are there any rostered watering days (particularly in Australia)?
    • Any emergency contacts, including local friends, family, and vet?
    • What is the Wi-Fi password?
    • Do they want to be contacted while they’re away on holiday (via email or phone)?

During The Assignment

Now that you’re in the house, what’s next:

  • Provide love, comfort and food to the adorable pets that are in your care. Help them not even realise their owner is gone.
  • Follow instructions. In our Irish assignment the lady did not want the dogs alone so we took them in the car with us everywhere we went. Our London dwelling understandably had certain things they did not want the kids to play with. Our kids are very respectful and we simply showed them the things they could touch and things they couldn’t and we had no hassles.
  • Be mindful of their utilities. If they are still paying, please be considerate of their utilities. Turn off lights when not in use, avoid long showers, open a window instead of turning on air conditioner and importantly, find out if there are any bandwidth limits on the Internet connection.
  • Collect and organise the mail; date it if necessary.
  • Water the plants as required.
  • Take out the trash for collection.
  • Keep the premises clean. 
  • Why not see if there is anything to fix around the house? In London we noticed a loose kitchen tap and some carpet falling off the step. Handy husband fixed those two right up. 

After The Assignment

You’ve finished the house sit and moved onto your next destination or returned home.

  • Leave the house better then you found it: clean out the fridge, mop the floors, do the dishes. 
  • If you have time try to wash and dry all sheets and towels, leave them folded with a little sticky note telling them it has been done. 
  • If you got to use a vehicle during the stay, leave a full tank and give it a vacuum. 
  • Leave some basic food items for the owner so they don’t have to run to the supermarket as soon as they get back - bread, milk, fruit and vegetables.
  • If they are coming home late why not cook them a meal or bake them some cookies – they’ll love it!
  • If you don’t actually see them in person, leave a note with any relevant comments and thank them for the opportunity to house sit for them. Follow up with an email afterwards.
  • Don’t forget all your stuff!
  • If the owner doesn’t leave a review soon after, politely request a review on the house sitting website you were connected through.

A lot of these tips may seem like common sense, and the old adage of treating others the way you want to be treated will cover most bases. Always remember to act with professionalism. In reality you’re performing a job for the owner, so do it with the best of your ability. 

Particularly if you’re travelling from another country, you may find the local customs a little different from your own. So try to be extra sensitive to those throughout your stay. And before you know it, you’ll rack up a slew of house sitting references which will provide you with the big advantage you need next time you apply for a house sit.

Exclusive for Travel With Bender readers. We have negotiated a 10% discount for you when signing up with HouseCarers. Check them out now! 

Reader Comments...

"I respond to every comment by direct private email. I look forward to your feedback" -

Very useful! We have our first house sit in 2 days time!

Alyson Jul 26th, 2014

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