Publié le by NmNomador
Homeowners: What You Shouldn’t Expect from Your House-sitter
There are many positive ways you can welcome your new house-sitter. But there are also several ways that can start the relationship off on a sour note….usually when the house-sitter is caught off-guard by conditions or responsibilities that weren’t disclosed.
House-sitters take quite a risk when they travel – at their own expense and sometimes a great distance – to care for a stranger’s home and pets. The house-sitter may have asked all the right questions before accepting your house-sitting assignment, but it’s important for you to be completely candid, too.
Put yourself in the house-sitter’s shoes: Imagine arriving at a stranger’s home after a long, expensive plane trip, expecting to meet “your” new pets and settle into “your” home to suddenly find:
• You’re required to “look in on” an elderly relative who lives on the property.
• The homeowners’ adult children will drop by at will and may spend the night.
• There are tenants on the property you need to manage, or roommates in the house you need to live with.
• You’re asked to greet and clean up after vacation rental guests.
• There are more pets than you agreed to care for – especially new rescues who may not be totally acclimated to the household. Or the pets have undisclosed behavioral problems (such as midnight barking, or lack of toilet training) or medical complications, especially if those issues require the house-sitter to be homebound for long periods of time.
• The house is filthy, the refrigerator is an ongoing science experiment and the homeowners expect you to clean it.
• The house or property is undergoing remodeling.
• You are required to pay utility bills, the household staff’s salaries or are asked for a cash “deposit.”
• The homeowners’ departure date has changed and you need to live together. This can be confusing for the pets, too.
• That water or electricity is restricted, rationed or shut off at regular intervals.
• The pool has been drained, even though the homeowners raved about how lovely it is.
• The pet is near death and you will be obligated to make end-of-life decisions.
• You’re on candid camera 24/7.
(Each of these scenarios has greeted me or house-sitters I know!)
When you surprise your house-sitter with these predictable but undisclosed circumstances, you take away the sitter’s right to determine if this assignment is right for her. Some sitters walk away from these scenarios. Others stay but feel stuck in a situation they would not have agreed to.
Generally, you shouldn’t expect anything from your house-sitter that would make you uncomfortable, angry or feeling cheated if you were surprised by the same circumstances upon arriving at your vacation rental apartment.
Your goal is to find the right house-sitter for you. To do that, you should disclose everything up-front about your needs (e.g., communication frequency), your home’s peculiarities (e.g., you’re a heavy smoker, or you have steep steps), your pets’ habits and requirements to weed out people who wouldn’t be happy in your home. There are house-sitters who’d be fine running a bed-and-breakfast for a stipend. Or sitters with medical training who’d feel confident caring for an elderly relative.
That said, life happens. A pet takes a turn for the worse. You miss your plane. Flexibility, a sense of humor and an appreciative apology go a long way to smooth the situation with your house-sitter. I once was surprised by a family returning home an hour after they left: The mom had accidentally bought tickets for the wrong month and needed a day to sort out their new departure. She arrived home with the kids and immediately apologized, “Well, this isn’t what you bargained for!”
I appreciated her empathy. I offered to leave for a few days, but she was able to arrange a new departure rather quickly. In the meantime, she and I enjoyed great conversations and I enlisted her smart, articulate twelve-year-old son to take me on a walking tour of his city. It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable memories I have from that house-sit!
Kelly Hayes-Raitt admits she’s been sleeping around for a decade – usually with pets. As a full-time housesitter, she’s pampered pets in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Gibraltar and throughout Africa, SE Asia, the US, and Mexico. She even housesat in Ya’an, a village in China where she was the only English-speaker she met! She’s recently written How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the HouseSit Diva, available on Amazon or www.HouseSitDiva.com