Having a house sitter is one of the best ways to ensure the security of your house in winter, whether you go away for two weeks or two months. If you have pets it is especially useful to have someone stay at your home, rather than trying to move them. However, entrusting your house to another person (even a close friend) is a big step. These are our tips on how to manage a winter house sit so it is a positive experience for everyone.
Find the right person
A trusted friend might seem like the ideal person, but there are other options too. Websites like Nomador, HouseCarers and TrustedHouseSitters connect homeowners with dedicated house-sitters. The choice of a carer should be based on his or her ability to manage your home. A seasoned house-sitter may be a better choice than your sweet elderly neighbour
The secret to a good experience is setting clear, detailed expectations, whether the sitter is a friend or a stranger. Think carefully about what you need and want done in each of the following areas:
Make a detailed list of everything that needs to be done to keep your house safe, warm and secure — and how often it should be done. This list should include everything from cleaning, to routine maintenance such as changing light bulbs or replacing butane bottles, to security issues like locking doors and windows.
It is important to have a clear agreement on how the house sitter will use your home. Issues like having parties, using the car, hosting overnight guests, or subletting should be clearly addressed. This prevents misunderstandings down the line.
Caring for a pet requires more than plopping some food in the bowl. Your sitter needs to know your pet’s routine, likes, dislikes, and personality traits. You also need to agree on how you will provision your pets. The simplest thing is to leave enough food, flea drops, etc to last the duration of your absence and reimburse the sitter for any incidental expenses.
Depending on your situation you may ask the sitter to take on additional responsibilities, such as collecting your post, getting an oil change for your car, or chopping wood. Whatever it is, you need to discuss it and clearly define their duties before you set off.
You may be able to find someone to house-sit for free, but remember the adage, “you get what you pay for.” When you ask someone to care for your most valuable material possession, it is only fair to compensate them. It doesn’t have to be a huge sum, but you should take into account work they will do like cleaning, pet care, and running errands.
In addition to a personal fee, you should leave the sitter with funds for routine shopping and household goods. You can reimburse them by PayPal or TransferWise for larger items.
Before you leave, create and sign house-sitting contract. This sample form from MindMyHouse is an excellent example you can download and modify as needed. Putting everything in writing gives you and your house-sitter peace of mind.
Share your house-sitting experience or tips in the comments!