Unspoken Rules of house sitting every house sitter needs to know
House sitting guidelines - Dos and Don´ts every house sitter should know and apply
Once you have landed a housesit, you want to make sure you do a great job. After all you want to get a great review. Maybe even get invited to sit again. But also, the owners should feel comfortable having you as a sitter. Above all, you are living in their house and taking care of their beloved pets. Last but not least, you representing all sitters.
So after two years of house sitting and one year full-time sitting, I feel comfortable giving you these guidelines. Some should be pretty basic and commonly known. Others might be totally unexpected for you. In general, the longer the sit, the more responsibilities and the more guidelines. So let´s dive in.
Know the rules and stick to them
If you are with TrustedHousesitters, a welcome guide is pretty standard. If you don´t get one, ask the owners for it. If you are using another platform, ask the owners for their house rules. If you are sitting pets as well, let them give you their routine, habits, likes and dislikes. You can find my complete question guide for it later this month.
However, most important, stick to the rules. It´s about respect and trust.
If they want you to clean the floor every week in a specific way, do it! If they don´t want the dog on the couch or bed, don´t let the dog on the couch or bed.
Also, the owners have their rules for a reason. If you don´t understand their rules or the reason for them, ask. You are in a different country or even continent. You shouldn´t apply your common knowledge. Expect things to be different.
Keep contact - before, during and after a sit
Again, it´s about trust. Also, it´s about the owners feeling comfortable with you. After accepting a sit, keep them updated about your travel arrangements. Ask about their travel plans. Depending on their travel destination, they might be on a different continent in a different time zone. Maybe even off the grit. That´s good to know when you need to contact them. So don´t panic if someone doesn´t answer right away.
During the sit, especially if you sit pets, keep the owners updated. Ask in advance, how frequently they would like updates. Whereas some like to be updated daily, others like to be contacted only in emergencies. Apply some common sense for upcoming problems. Don´t contact them with every little question/ problem. Try to figure it out on your own or send questions in a bundle. Also, ask which channel they prefer.
Plan your arrival and departure. You might want to arrive one day early, so the owners can show you everything.
Get all house rules and the pets´ routine in writing. Have a daily checklist. Especially if you don´t have pets, plants or a garden.
Make yourself familiar with the alarm system.
Have the emergency contacts on hand (vet, friends, plumber, etc).
Know where the junction box and fire distinguisher is located. Also, find out where you can turn off the main water pipe, if necessary.
Have one spot to collect the mail.
Keep all your stuff in one room. It´s easier to pack when you leave. Also, you never know if a neighbor or the owners show up nevertheless. Therefore, it´s also good to keep the house tidy and clean. Especially for longer its, clean on a regular basis. Even if you don´t do it at home.
If you move furniture, eat food out of the storage or just can´t remember where things go, take photos of the home.
Don´t leave pets alone over night
Should go without question. And for us that was never a question. But it seems some sitters do leave pets alone for a night or two. Because many home owners explicitly asked us to not leave their pets alone over night.
If you do end up sitting a home with no pets, spending one night somewhere else for travelling purposes might be an option. But do ask the owners about that in advance.
But other than that I would NEVER leave pets alone over night.
Also don´t leave pets alone on a regular basis on most days. You are there, so they are not alone.
Always leave the home secure
Some will explicitly tell you to always lock windows and doors when leaving the house. Some might even suggest to do the same when being in the house.
However, others tell you it´s a safe neighborhood and they never lock the house. Regardless, you should always lock windows and doors when leaving. At least for insurance reasons. And you never know.
No guests or parties
Should go without saying. No parties! Also, no guests, especially not if you are only sitting for a couple of days. However, if you are sitting for a couple of weeks or months, you might invite guests. But not more than four. And always ask the owner first!
If you are house sitting, it´s most likely it is the not so pleasant season in the country you are sitting in. There is a reason why the owners are away this time of the year 😉
However, electricity is expensive in most parts of the world. So don´t cool the house down to 15 °C when it has 38°C outside. And don´t heat up the house to 24°C when it has minus 15°C outside. It´s not good for the environment. And you don´t want the owners to have a heart attack when they get the next electricity bill.
If you break something, say something
Unfortunately, it happened to us several times that we broke something. Or that something broke. Luckily, it was mostly a plate or a glass in the kitchen. Nevertheless, even so it can be unpleasant to tell, always inform the owner. Either right away or when they arrive. Apologize and offer to replace it or to pay for it. Most of the times, they won´t mind. But it´s about trust, respect and honesty.
Leave the house in better shape than you found it
Nothing is more pleasant than coming home from holiday into a clean home. We always try to leave the home cleaner than it was handed over to us. It´s our way of saying thank you. The owners will be thankful and it will reflect in the review. Promise!
The longer the sit, the more cleaning you should do. For example, we clean the fridge if we stay longer than a week. If we stayed a couple of weeks, we make sure the garden is good taken care of as well. You can find my whole cleaning list distinguished regarding the length of the sit here.
However, even if the owners didn´t leave you their home tidy and clean. You should at least clean up after you. Clean the bedroom you slept in as well as the bathroom you used. Strip the bed. If possible, wash the sheets and towels you used. Vacuum Clean the whole home. Clean the kitchen (do the dishes, clean the surfaces, take out the trash).
Stock up the essentials
Again, it depends on what you arranged with the owners. Some stock up the fridge and freezer for you as a thank you. Especially, if you are sitting for free. In this case, you don´t need to replace it.
Others try to eat up their food before your arrival. So you have all the space in the fridge for you… In this case it might be wise to replace what you took. Either way, make sure the owners have the basics when they come home. Maybe some milk (real or almond) and coffee or tea (if you used theirs). It also depends on where you are and what you find upon your arrival.
Last, make sure there is some toilet paper (if used in the household), as well as trash bags. Also, if you used up all the dishwasher tabs, buy some. Same goes for other cleaning supplies.
Bring or leave a little Thank you
Especially when you are sitting in a different county, bringing a little souvenir from your home country is a nice gesture. Being from Germany/Austria we brought chocolate, Austrian Salt, a little cow bell, a souvenir magnet, etc.
You don´t have to, but it´s a polite thing to do. And don´t forget, the owners also travel somewhere while you are sitting for them. And most will bring you a souvenir as a Thank you.
Also, if you will leave before they get home, leaving a little thank you is much appreciated by owners. It can be a note, some home cooked meal or a little present. Whatever you like. And don´t forget to contact them after the sit. Ask if they arrived safely and found everything as they like.
Join the house sitting world
I hope those guidelines will help you on your house sitting journey. Let me know if you can think of some guidelines I missed. I am always happy to learn and be a better sitter.
Sign up here now and become a house sitter today!
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