House Sitter FAQs

GENERAL HOUSE SITTING

There is no one stereotypical 'sitter'. All types of people will house sit, including retired couples, singles, young families, professionals, artists, etc.

Generally, house sitters are well educated, caring, responsible people with some life experience. The reasons people house sit are as varied... Some house sitters just need temporary accommodation while they are moving from one house to another, some see the benefits of living rent free, while others simply enjoy a change of scenery.

The sitters' responsibility is to live in and care for the house they are minding. This may include house security, house cleaning duties, garden and lawn maintenance, caring for pets, forwarding mail and phone messages, the occasional odd job, and anything else the home owner and the sitter both agree on.

There are too many variables to guarantee anyone they will be engaged as a house sitter. Things such as location choice, location flexibility, date flexibility, duration flexibility and how the house sitter's profile is perceived by the homeowners searching the list all play a part.

Having a criminal record check, available referees and good references can also help. Remember each homeowner is unique and in the end they choose who they think is suitable for their house sitting position.

First of all it's important to note that a large number of homeowners do not take up the free house advert offer - and simply scroll the house sitter profiles to contact them directly. So don't be too disheartened if there are not any house sitting adverts in your preferred area.

You will need to check regularly what homeowner adverts are currently advertised to see if there are any sitting positions in your preferred area.

The first thing you should do is set up a "Search Alert", which automatically notifies you when a new house ad appears in your preferred locations.

Yes, you can, however if your house sitting party consists of a pet of some kind, you will reduce your chances of securing house sitting work.

There are many homeowners who would not like a foreign pet around their home for whatever reason. However there are home owners who are happy to have an extra animal as long as their home and pets are cared for.

Absolutely! Some homeowners don't want children in their home for various reasons but there are plenty of others who are happy to have kids in their home - especially if they have pets that need some extra loving, or if a family going on holiday wants to have a family come and care for their home.

Yes. The duration of house sitting positions can be anything from 1 day to 3 years. The general length of a house sit tends to fall between 1 week and 4 months but it is not uncommon for house sitting positions to be longer.

Yes, it happens all the time. Word of mouth is by far the best way to keep yourself employed as a house and pet sitter.

If you engage in a house sitting job that is well received by the homeowner you are probably going to get called upon for their next away trip - plus the homeowner's family and friends away trips! This could potentially extend on to the friend's friends and their friend's friends etc.

So if you happen to get one small house sit in Toronto, you can think of it as potentially house sitting Toronto because it may well be the start of many years of free accommodation. A small pet minding job in Winnipeg or Calgary could potentially mean house sitting in and around these cities for many months or years!

Every house sitter has to start somewhere. Most homeowners are willing to consider first time house sitters.

There are many variables at play in every house sit, including dates, requirements, pets needs etc. Even if you're a first-timer, a great profile page along with good personal references and referees can get you over the line.

Of course, once you've done your first sit, get the home owner to give you an endorsement - and you will find that getting future sits will be that much easier.

It’s really up to you.

As we understand it, most home owners and house sitters do not use a house sitting agreement and simply choose to agree on things verbally.

However, it’s very important to discuss all aspects of the house sit before it's confirmed, to allow everything to run smoothly and avoid any confusion.

If you're not going to create a formal agreement, we highly recommend documenting everything you discuss either within your My Messages section or in an email or something similar.

A house sitting agreement can feel like over-kill, but it can also be really helpful - and once you've done one, any others are really simple.

The process of drafting an agreement usually brings up important issues that need agreement e.g. required pet care, garden care, who is responsible for paying for utilities etc.

We provide a house sitting agreement template that you can adjust to suit your needs if you desire one.

WHO PAYS WHAT?

The bottom line is - it's all negotiable between you and the house owner. In most cases it's just a straight swap; the house sitter cares for the house and pets in exchange for free accommodation.

However there may be times when a homeowner will offer some money for the house sitting job. For example if the house is situated in an undesirable location, or the length of the sit is too short, or there are lots of pets to care for and jobs to do - then the homeowner may offer to pay the house sitter something. At the very least they might cover the house sitter's utility costs (eg electricity, gas, phone etc).

There are also professional house and pet sitters who normally charge for their services, although the majority of sitters on this site will not.

Remember it's all negotiable between the home owner and the house sitter.

This is negotiable between the homeowner and the house sitter. In the majority of cases it's just a straight swap i.e. the house sitter cares for the house and pets in exchange for free accommodation.

However, there may be times when a homeowner may ask for some weekly money from the house sitter. For example, if the house was situated in a desirable location, or the length of the sit was long and desirable, or there were no pets to care for and very few jobs to do - then the homeowner may ask the house sitter for a payment each week.

Remember it's all negotiable between the home owner and the house sitter. You should be able to work something out that seems fair to both parties.

This should be agreed before the sit begins. Generally the house sitter pays for what they use, or for any usage that exceeds a certain limit. This is more of an issue on longer sits.

Homeowners pay nothing to register and to use this site, for life.

House sitters normally pay a $65 annual membership fee.

During our launch stage, we are offering 2 years of membership for free to all house sitters - so it's all free.

Yes! We do not charge homeowners anything to find a house sitter - ever.

Home owners join and enjoy full use of the site features for free, for life.

REGISTRATION AS A SITTER

You can choose from our secure online credit card option or use PayPal.

You should receive your login details via email within minutes after you register.

If you have not received this email within an hour (and you have checked your junk mail) please email us and we will re-send you your details.

Contact with home owners is always made through their house ad, by clicking on the "Contact" button. This initiates a conversation in our internal secure messaging system.

Keep in mind that many homeowners choose not to place a house advert, but rather browse through the list of sitters and contact them directly. So make sure that your listing promotes you well.

Most house sitters will be able to start contacting homeowners once you have registered and your payment has been marked as received.

Sorry, we do not offer this service, mainly because it is impossible to avoid mix-ups and disappointment.

Most home owners take down their ad as soon as a sitter is found, and will defintely do so once they realise that sitters are still enquiring.

Note that we do not display "old" ads that are marked as "taken". This is different to some house sitting sites that actually list old ads to boost their numbers.

If you've sent a message to another member and haven't got a reply, this is usually due to one of two things:

  • THE JUNK FOLDER: The email notifications we send out may have ended up in the Junk folder of either the sender or the recipient.
  • NON-REPLIES: Most members reply to all enquiries promptly, but this isn't always the case. Sometimes they forget, or are away from their computer for a while. Sometimes, they actually have trouble saying "no", so they just say nothing.

WHAT TO DO:

  • CHECK YOUR MESSAGES: Note that you can always login to your account and check your Messages there - if the Sitter did reply it will appear here, regardless of whether or not you received an email notification.
  • ADD US TO YOUR CONTACTS LIST: This will ensure that all message notifications get to you. The email address to add is: messages@housesittersuk.co.uk
  • TRY AGAIN OR MOVE ON: You could try sending another enquiry, or you could just assume the House Sitter is not interested, and move on. There are lots of fish in this sea.

THE REPLY RATING SYSTEM

To encourage prompt replies to all messages, we've implemented a Reply Rating. This rates a members responsiveness with a score (5 dots is a perfect score) and reduces every time they do not reply to a message after a set time.

Yes we email reminder notices a few weeks before your membership expires.

ABOUT THE SITE

We maintain a database of people interested in house sitting (house sitters), and people who want their house and pets looked after (home owners).

The website provides a suite of tools that enable our members to find and communicate with each other, so that they can organise house sitting arrangements that are mutually beneficial.

Membership entitles house sitters to contact any house owner through their house ads, and house owners to contact any house sitter through their listings.

Home owners can choose to place a house ad, or just contact house sitters directly.

Home owners do not pay anything for membership, or for use of the site.

House sitters normally pay an annual fee.

Non-members can browse through all house ads and sitter profiles, but they can't make contact with any members until they register themselves.

All house ads should be active.

Most home owners take down their ad when they've found a sitter (and we encourage that with automated features) but they sometimes don't do this immediately, which can mean that an "inactive" ad can appear on the site for a short time.

Our Reply Rating system also automatically cleans up all ads that are not responding to any enquiries.

In addition, we do not show inactive ads, as some other house sitting sites do to boost their apparent numbers.

The house sitter list is ordered by the most recent house sitter to have logged in. You can move your profile to the top of the list by either logging into your account, or if you're already logged in, clicking the 'Save Changes' button within the 'My Sitter Profile' page.

We believe this is fairer and smarter than listing alphabetically or any other method. It ensures that active house sitters will float around the top of the list and those who no longer require a house sit or those who are currently on a house sit filter towards the bottom of the list.

You will need to have an email account when you first sign up so you can activate your profile but once you have registered you have the ability to choose to be contacted by phone if that's preferable.

A REPLY RATING appears on a member's search listing and profile/Ad page, as a series of 5 dots. This rates the member's responsiveness to (first contact) messages.

If a member has responded in a timely fashion to every first contact message, their REPLY RATING will remain at a perfect 5 points.

For every (first contact) message that goes un-replied, a point is deducted. To redeem a lost point the member needs to answer promptly to the next two (first contact) messages that come through.

Some things to note:

  • First contact messages can't be archived or deleted by the recipient until they have been replied to.
  • The Reply Rating only applies to first contacts. Non-replies to existing contacts don't incur any penalties.
  • If a House Sitter is having trouble replying promptly, they can choose a "LIMITED CONTACT" status. With this option chosen, their profile is still live, and messages can still be sent to them, but the sender is aware that there may be a delayed response. Late replies from the sitter will not incur any Reply Rating penalties while this option is selected.
  • If a House Owner wants to stop receiving first contact messages they can simply de-activate their house Ad.

Of course, if there is any valid reason that a prompt reply was not possible, we are able to restore Reply Ratings manually (at our own discretion).

We've chosen to make the Reply Rating fully "redeemable", rather than allowing a single mistake to permanently scar a member's profile. We feel that this is a much fairer and more realistic approach, with the emphasis on encouraging prompt replies, rather than just punishing non-replies.

Our members occasionally suggest that a rating system would help them choose between candidates.

While ratings can be useful for some sites, they can also be very damaging in others. We have carefully considered introducing a ratings system, but have decided against it because we feel that it could have a negative impact on many of our members, which would be completely unwarranted.  

Some reasons:

  • Subjectivity: Choosing a House Sitter is an incredibly subjective task, involving a mix of characteristics, experience and "chemistry". All homeowners have different standards, expectations and personalities. While one homeowner might think ‘0 stars’ another might think ‘5 stars’ about the same experience. 
  • Love: This site and the community of people involved are characterised by generosity, responsibility and respect. We value this and work very hard to affirm and maintain it. We feel that a ratings system has too many potential negatives for some members that would undermine the wonderful spirit of the site for no real benefit.
  • Unreasonable criticism: It only takes one negative comment to destroy a House Sitter’s chances of getting any further sits. A house sitter could be trying their best, but if they don’t have detailed instructions they might disappoint an owner without meaning to. A rating would unfairly punish a sitter in this instance.
  • Quality: It is genuinely hard to find a ‘bad’ House Sitter or Homeowner. The overwhelming majority of the tens of thousands of sits that happen every year are fantastic exchanges that are wonderfully satisfying for all parties.
  • Confidence: There are many things that help build confidence in a House Sitter, which we believe are actually more helpful than a rating. These include references, referees, endorsements, number of completed sits and personal history. And don’t underestimate the importance for homeowners to take time to talk with a potential sitter. This is a great way to have confidence in what the sitter can provide.
  • Incentive: An argument for ratings is that it provides incentive for a House Sitter to perform well. We feel that good performance is already an outstanding feature of our members. House sitters genuinely want to do a great job for their owner and homeowners genuinely want to make the sitter’s stay comfortable and enjoyable. Good character and common courtesy drive our members to "perform" well. We have other more practical incentives for sitters to perform well, these include receiving positive endorsements, repeat sits, referrals and additional references and referees. 
  • Skewing: ‘Ratings’ may help in choosing a camera: is it what was expected, did it arrive on time etc. These factors can easily be measured fairly. However, given the same sitter, five different homeowners could rate them very differently, so it is hard to see this as a fair measure. Sitters performing at the same level of expertise can be "marked" differently and if this is displayed on the site, it is not a fair assessment and not helpful for either the sitter or the owners looking for a sitter.
  • Endorsements: To help in selecting a sitter, we have “Endorsements” from previous house sits. This is a feature that is becoming popular in many sites. It means that members can be rewarded with positive recommendations from other members, and it adds an important layer of credibility to a sitter's profile.
  • Complaints policy: For those rare occasions when a Homeowner or House Sitter has experienced a problem, we are always available to hear complaints about members and we do take appropriate action. We have a thorough complaints procedure we use when needed.

Endorsements add a lot of credibility to a member's profile, and they reward and promote good citizenship.

To send an endorsement, or request one, the process is simple:

  • Make sure the other member is listed in your “Confirmed Sits”
  • Send / Request an endorsement

Confirmed Sits: The logic behind this, of course, is that you can only endorse someone who has sat for you, or for whom you have sat. Most conversations on this site start with the messaging system, so all "Confirmed Sits" come from My Messages.

Retrospective: You can send and receive endorsements for any sit that was initiated through the messaging system, even if it was months ago (providing the other member is still an active member).

ABOUT US

Yes. We spend large amounts of money on online advertising every day of the year. We also advertise in other media.

Generally, we reply within a few hours, but this can depend on things like the number of enquiries we are receiving and time zones etc. We are known for friendly and helpful support, and should be able to respond within 24 hours.

 
*FREE: House sitting is usually free, for both sitter and house owner, although this is completely up to the individuals. There are usually some costs that need to be covered by either the sitter or the house owner e.g. electricity, phone usage, vet fees etc. How these costs are handled needs to be agreed before the sit begins. House sitters pay a single annual membership fee, while house owners pay nothing to advertise their house or to contact sitters.