If you discovered the concept of pet sitters that stay in your home, either as a potential house sitter or as a pet owner who’d like to hire one, you might have some questions. Is house sitting safe, how does it work, where do I find listings? Here are the answers to some common questions people have about housesitting.
Is house sitting safe?
I have always felt safe house sitting through the site that I use. In my opinion, both the house sitters and the pet owners have a degree of protection. I have different types of verifications to show that I am who I say I am. Plus 50 or so reviews from other owners I’ve sat for.
I believe that owners have a level of verification too so that makes me feel comfortable. We also both have access to a dedicated member helpline if we should ever feel the need to use it.
Do housesitters get paid?
Questions I’ve been asked are “is house-sitting free?” and “do house sitters get paid?”. The answer to these is, it depends. The house sitting site that I use – TrustedHousesitters.com – lists sits that people do for free.
To house and pet sitters like me, there is value in staying in lovely homes for free. If I’d rented the properties I’ve been fortunate enough to sit in, I’d have spent tens of thousands of pounds over the last three years.
Some owners might leave out spending money but any kind of payment can have tax implications. If you were to hire a self-employed house sitter who sat professionally as a job then they would charge you. The rate would vary on a number of factors, including where you’re based.
How much are house sitting site fees?
Nothing is set in stone and all sites and sits are slightly different.
The site I use is around £100 per year for sitters and a bit more for a combined sitter and owner membership. I think it’s one of the more expensive ones but for me, it’s worth it. Their site user experience is good and it’s easy to use. I like that there is a member helpline as well as a dedicated vet helpline too.
Personally, I was lucky enough to win lifetime membership when I last renewed my membership. But I was happy to pay as the annual cost is around the same as I might pay for one night of decent accommodation in London.
Do I need qualifications to become a house sitter?
No, you don’t need anything formal. Obviously, you need to like animals and be a reliable and trustworthy person but you don’t need to show a pet care certificate. If you do have any qualifications that are relevant it’s ideal for you to list them on your profile. But having experience of caring even for your own pets can give people an idea of what you’re about.
Anything you’ve done that’s relevant is good to put on your profile. Before you’ve got many reviews it’s really helpful to add anything to your profile that will help owners decide whether you’re a good fit for their pet.
How long are house sits?
Again this varies greatly. The shortest sit I’ve done was one night where I had a gap between two other sits. The longest sit I’ve done prior to this one in Greece was 2 months over the summer.
However, I’ve seen listings for sits lasting up to one year and everything in between. If someone is going away for some kind of sabbatical or working elsewhere, this isn’t unheard of.
Sometimes long sits are broken down into smaller chunks. It’s a lot to ask someone to stay at a house for a year and not be able to go away for a weekend or a holiday of their own. Sometimes a year long sit would be broken down into something like three-month long stretches. Or the house sitter and pet owner would come to some agreement. Like perhaps a neighbour or another sitter popping in for a few long weekends throughout the year.
How do you know what the house is like before you sit?
Most listings I’ve seen share a good amount of information about the house. They generally have quite a few pictures too and you can normally glean quite a bit of detail from the images.
However, it’s normal to have a phone call or video chat before accepting a sit. If I was staying in one place for quite a period of time I would probably ask for a video tour of the house.
It’s good to work out as a sitter if there are things that matter particularly to you. For example, I wouldn’t want to stay somewhere for a long time if it only had a bath and no shower. I like to shower in the morning and a bath would be too time consuming tricky to wash my hair.
How much do you communicate with the owners while they’re away?
This is something I always confirm in advance and again, it’s different for everyone.
Some owners will say straight off the bat that they want daily photos and updates. Usually, they’ll write that on the house sit listing. On the odd occasion, I’ve had an owner tell me they don’t need to hear from me at all during my stay.
Mostly, people like an update about every 3 days or so, but it can depend on how long the sit is. For a longer term sit I’d probably do a weekly update.
As a rule, I usually message the owners when I arrive at the house just to let them know I got there safely.
So I hope that answers some of your questions. If you’d like to know more about the housesits I’ve done personally, then have a read through the posts I have here. They might give you a bit more insight into what it’s like to be a house sitter or to have a house sitter look after your home.