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Publié le by NmNomador

16 Strategies to Deal with a House-sit that is Not as Advertised

House-sitting is often touted as a great way to live in mansions for free. While some house-sitting assignments are in opulent homes, the vast majority are in regular abodes that regular people live in – and live in with their furry friends.  Having pets onsite sometimes means that households might not be as clean or tidy as you’d hope. Most homeowners do an extra-special cleaning before inviting guests into their home to care for their pets. But some homeowners simply don’t see the dirt or smell the pet odors.

Or, the pet care is not as advertised. Those glowing articles about house-sitting mention delightful pets….and that’s usually true! But some pet owners have learned to live with or tune out their pets’ less endearing behaviors.  

To be clear - the vast majority of house-sits are pleasant and are enjoyed without any issues. But on the odd chance that you show up for a house-sit and it is "not as advertised", here are strategies to deal with the issues:

  • Sleep on it. Things may not look as bleak or overwhelming in the light of day after a night’s sleep that shakes off jet lag.

  • Don’t pile it on. The human brain looks for evidence to support its opinion;  this is called “confirmation bias.” Resist the urge to support your opinion of the filthy fridge by noticing every dust bunny.
  • Remind yourself of the reasons you took the housesit. Great location?  Perfect timing to attend your best friend’s wedding? Explore a city you’re thinking of moving to? Focusing on the positive reason you are there helps alleviate the initial disappointment.

  • Put it in perspective. That sticky kitchen may not feel welcoming, but, really, how long will it take you to clean it? Does two or three hours of cleaning at the beginning of a month-long housesit balance out? Consider the big picture.

  • Make yourself at home as soon as possible. Get the cleaning out of the way, so you can enjoy your new digs and end stewing.

  • Minimize your frustration by living in just one area of the house. During one housesit where the homeowner simply didn’t notice how cluttered and dusty her home was, I decided to live in her furnished guesthouse and was much happier.

  • Resist complaining to the homeowners. They simply don’t see their home through the same eyes you do. Complaining to them while they are traveling is not going to keep your relationship supportive, and will just make them self-conscious about a stranger staying in their home.

  • Reschedule their housecleaner. If the homeowners have a regular housecleaner, ask her/him to switch days and come earlier.

  • Ask the homeowner for permission to hire a cleaning service (if they don’t already have one). They may offer to cover the cost, but also consider that even if you pay the $100 or so, it is a fraction of the cost of accommodations. Be sure to use a reputable service and be with the cleaners, as you are responsible for any damage.

  • Pick your battles. Sometimes, the filth or odors can feel overwhelming. Decide what’s most important to you and focus on making that comfortable. In the aforementioned clutter-challenged home, I focused on ridding the kitchen of fruit flies, but decided to “wear blinders” when I drove the provided car.

  • Tolerate cultural differences. Sometimes, cleanliness standards are country-specific. For example, older flats in China, where there are less stringent building regulations, may have mold. (For me, that’s a health issue, as I’m allergic.  But other house-sitters may view mold as a lack of cleanliness.) Most homes in warm countries like Mexico have cockroaches, no matter how clean the home is.

If the pet care is more than you bargained for:

As above, sleep on it, and remind yourself the reasons you wanted this house-sit. Put the pet care in perspective. Also:

  • Contact the homeowner to ask about the behavior that concerns you. It might be an unusual behavior that warrants a vet check-up. Or, it might be a behavior the animal is regressing to and the homeowners can tell you how to successfully handle it.

  • Ask for help. If the pet care is more than you were told – for example, if the puppy really needs four walks/day, not two as advertised – ask the homeowners to contact a friend who can help with the dog-walking. I once cared for an ailing elderly cat who had surgery just before my arrival. During my time with him, he deteriorated rapidly beyond my ability to adequately care for him. I recommended to the homeowner that we board the kitty at the vet’s until she returned home.

  • Know your boundaries and set limits. A homeowner should not expect you to deal with problem pets. One homeowner’s chow suffered from separation anxiety so extreme, she once threw herself through a plate-glass window!  Fortunately, I passed on this house-sit, but if you find yourself dealing with behavioral surprises, contact the homeowner to strategize a mutually agreeable solution.

  • Learn from the experience. My house-sitting agreement reflects actual experiences I or other house-sitters have encountered. Evaluate what about the experience bothered you most – and be sure to ask about that issue in the future.

  • Roll with it. House-sitting requires flexibility and humor – and, at some point, you will likely be given an opportunity to exercise that!

  • Know for next time. Sometimes these problems can be avoided if you are especially diligent in choosing which house-sits to take on. Ask to see more photos of the home (beyond what is on the house-sitting website), and even request a video tour if you are having a conference with the homeowner. Follow these tips on how to find the perfect houses-sit if you have any doubts.

Author Bio

Kelly Hayes-Raitt

Kelly Hayes-Raitt has refined her flexibility and humor as a full-time house-sitter during the past decade by house-sitting throughout Europe, SE Asia, Mexico and Africa.  She’s the author of How to Become a Housesitter:  Insider Tips from the Housesit Diva, available in softcover or Kindle on Amazon or on her web site at www.HouseSitDiva.com.

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