Getting a house sitter for the first time can make anyone nervous – after all, you’ll be away from your home for quite some time, and the house sitter will have complete access to your home. Here are some of things you should be aware of before you acquire the services of a house sitting company:

  • Preparing for the house sitter’s arrival: Check with your insurance company whether your policy covers the house sitter’s personal belongings. Make sure that you tell your insurance agent the duration for which you will be away from your home. Let your house sitter know about the insurance company’s response, particularly if their belongings are not covered.

If you live in a rented home, tell your landlord that you wish to hire a house sitter and acquire their permission to do so. Give them a short written list of the house sitting arrangements e.g. names, contact information, dates etc.

  • What to provide your house sitter: Come to an arrangement with the house sitter about utilities, tasks and food. They may also require a sum of money each week to cover for expenses like fresh food. The majority of house sitters are normally prepared to pay for their own food, though, and will only need your cash for buying pet food or other necessities. Your written contract should contain these details.

Payments of utilities can be negotiated. You may want to pay for the basic ones, depending upon your consumption, and charge the sitter for extra electricity, gas and telephone use. You will also have to talk about satellite/cable TV and computer usage. If you plan to be away for a fortnight at most, you might consider paying these bills for the sitter.

Allocate some time to preparing instructions, checklists and a list of contacts for the house sitter; this is extremely important. In the event of an emergency your house sitter must know who to contact and what course of action to take. Avoid any misunderstanding by giving explicit pool, yard and pet care instructions. Create a folder of appliance instruction manuals for your house sitter as well.

  • Is it safe to get a house sitter? The majority of house sitting arrangements work out fine, but issues can still arise. Signing a written contract and getting good references are the best form of protection against liability and damage issues. If you intend to stay away from your home for months, you will most likely be better off getting a proper house sitter, rather than leaving the house empty.

Several house sitting matching and referral services provide standard house sitting agreements for their members. The house sitter you choose must be in agreement to sign a written contract with you. You can hire an attorney to write up a contract which protects both you and the sitter.

Ask your neighbours or friends to check in with the sitter every week or so, and let you know if they find any issues.

  • What to do if a problem occurs? In most cases, people don’t know about the problem until they have gotten back home. If you discover minor damage, you can take out repair costs from the security fund before you give it back. Wait for your utility bills to arrive before you give the security deposit back to the sitter.

In the event of major damage, you might have to sue the house sitter for damages.

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