What makes a really great house sitter and what to expect
Being a housesitter
It takes a responsible person to be a house sitter. One that is respectful to a person's property, and one that is reliable in looking after the security of their home, and the health and well being of their pets. You should not apply for being a house sitter if you are not any of these things, as you will most likely get turned down anyway. It isn't just to "get a free place to live." You really do need to be the whole package, and most importantly trustworthy.
Rules YOU should follow as a house sitter
- Never have parties. Full stop!
- Depending on the house owners or the length of stay will depend on whether you are allowed friends, partners, or visitors over. Remember that the owner has not met these people, and they are approving YOU to be in their home, not the others. Discuss with the owner for each individual house sit.
- Make sure their pets are a priority and follow the instructions they leave you. Follow them accurately.
- Keep their house secure. Follow what they have told you. Treat it more secure than you might do to your own house. You are on a street you are likely not familiar with.
- Generally a house sitter does not pay for utilities or power, but on long stays you may be asked to contribute. Make sure all arrangements are understood and are fair.
- Discuss whether the owner wants you to answer the door or answer the phone while they are away. Each will have different requests for different homes.
- Make sure they have fresh milk and toilet paper for when they return.
- If you use anything in their pantry or fridge, REPLACE it! House sitting is not a time for you to live in someone's house for free and eat all their food.
- Ensure you don't fiddle around with appliance settings. Be it anything electronic, DVD players, set top boxes, etc. How horrible if the owner returned home to find you accidentally erased their fave TV show they recorded to their player.
Rules I stick to myself when house sitting ...
I am quite a bit more fussy when house sitting for someone than what they expect. I go above and beyond the rules the owners would expect. Here is my complete list of things I follow;
VISITORS, PARTIES, HOUSE SECURITY, COLLECTING MAIL, PHONE CALLS
1 - I never have people over. I don't let anyone know the address or street name (in most instances). I would NEVER ever have a party or a group of friends over.
2 - If someone knocks on the door, i am so far yet to answer it. I do not want to answer the door.
3 - If someone rings, I will not pick up their home phone. I will let it go to voice message. I will then play back the message and take notes or forward to the owner.
4 - I collect all the mail daily and arrange it neatly and presentable in a pile on their table or bench. If they are away on an extended stay I will let them know any branding on the envelopes incase they give me permission to then open it because it being a bill or something important.
5 - Some junk mail I will keep for when the owners return, dependent on whether it is local services or coupons for their area or not. Some local newspapers are junk, and the real estate papers, so I usually throw them out, as does everyone else themselves anyway.
6 - I do not make phone calls from their home phone. I will in an emergency. I generally don't talk to owners on the phone while they are away, I prefer texting or email. If an owner insisted I ring them, i would use their home phone to do so, rather than my mobile phone.
7 - If i need to make lots of business type phone calls, since they are cheaper from a landline than a mobile, i am able to use the owners landline at a much cheaper flat rate rather than per minute on my mobile. So i buy a prepaid card that i dial the details once i pick up the home phone, and then the call charges are deducted from the prepay balance, rather than from the owner's landline phone account. The calls do not get logged on the owner's bill, and there is no indication I have used the phone.
8 - I keep all doors and windows and blinds/curtains shut at all times, at night, when i'm at work, even when at home. This is generally so that the pets don't get out, and for security. Some owners request certain doors or windows kept open or unlocked for their pets to go in and out 24 hours, so i stick to their rules in that instance.
USE OF LINEN, BATHROOM, TOILET
1 - In my first house sit she provided me with a heated double bed, all with clean sheets etc on it. I used all of that as I knew it was clean. The next house I was sleeping on one of the kids beds, So i brought my own linen, blankets and sheets. Now i bring everything in my car just incase I need them.
2 - I ALWAYS use my own towel for showering. I do use their clean towels for washing my hands, that is okay. If there is a mat on the floor, I wash it and dry it before the owners return, since bathroom floor mats smell after a while.
USING KITCHEN APPLIANCES, UTENSILS, FOOD
1 - I never eat anything in their pantry or fridge, give or take some fruit that may go off. Since I am mainly following a good healthy diet, I just buy my own healthy food. I don't drink milk, and i supply my own cheese.
2 - If anything is going off or mouldy I will throw it out, but generally will leave the owner a list of what i disposed of, so that they know what to replenish.
3 - Since i don't drink milk, I always have to throw theirs away since it expires. Now I will buy a fresh new bottle just before they return, so that they can have a cup of coffee etc when they return.
4 - I won't pay for any food for them. How they leave their fridge is how it is found when they return, even if it was empty. Milk is something I will buy out of politeness and comfort for their return. If food has expired while they are gone, i don't think it is my responsibility to pay for and replace it. I do not have the money to spare and I know owners understand that.
5 - I buy my own of what I use and have nothing to do with their fridge or pantry, other than storing my food in the fridge.
6 - I don't cook using the oven or stove since I am vegetarian and mainly have salads or Subway, so i pretty much use just the microwave. I bring my own plastic cups, and don't use much of their utensils or anything. Hygiene reasons for me, and just so that everything is left how they left it.
1 - I started house sitting during the winter months, so i needed the heater on. The owners would have had it on themselves at night anyway, so its no different for me to use instead. I try to limit it though due to power bills, as I would hate to get a big bill.
2 - As a house sitter we don't pay for power bills unless it's a very long stay. I saw someone post an advert once and asked the sitter pay $200 bond and then $50 a week for power, utilities, and phone costs. I laughed when I saw the advert, as I wouldn't use anywhere near that much a week.
3 - I only do one or two loads maximum of washing a week, so I don't use the washing machine much.
The clothes dryer I have had to use in an emergency for my work uniform, but some owners prefer you not to use them. I rarely used clothes dryers as it was prior to sitting, so I don't need them.
4 - I don't use dishwashers, I hand wash dishes, what very little dishes i use anyway. One lady had dirty dishes in her dishwasher just before leaving, so she quickly took them out and washed them. Had I not seen her do that, I never would have even thought to open the dishwasher and check if it was full of dirty dishes.
1 - I don't make mess or anything, so i think it is a bit extreme if someone asks for the floors to be mopped or vacumed every day or two. I guess it depends on the types of pets they have though.
2 - I will do a thourough vacume and mop before i leave.
3 - Clean the toilet and replace the toilet paper.
4 - Shower, bath, basin, floor, should all be clean.
5 - Kitchen sink and bench tops as you found it, or better.
RESPECTING THEIR BELONGINGS
1 - I do not enter rooms that are not allowed to be entered. I only enter them if I am asked to do so for something, or if the pets are in there.
2 - I never open any cupboards, draw or storage areas where their belongings may be. Be it dressers, wardrobes, desks, etc. The only time is when I perhaps need a certain cleaning agent or something that I really need for the purpose of the house. It is never for MY purpose, and if I need anything I should supply it and bring it with me, or ask the owner where they keep it and if I may please use it.
So far I have looked after two homes, and I have two more already booked. All interviews I have had so far I have passed first time. House sitting is something I would like to do internationally one day, especially when I hear some get paid for it and live in wealthy homes. A couple have told me they know someone who does that, and that I should be able to get those types of sits quite easily, considering my success so far.
Please comment and share any positive or negative experiences, and pass this hub on to others who are thinking of house sitting. Lets get some discusssion happening. Please me aware that I won't disclose any locations when replying to questions in comments.