Ask Robin

I seem to have become a mentor of sorts in the field of house sitting. Always happy to help someone out, be it house sitters, homeowners, adventurers, or anyone having questions related to this profession.

I will answer a couple of frequently asked questions below and add as I go. When you have a burning question, please don't hesitate to ask. I will include it here to share with others and answer you personally as well. Thank you for sharing. Aloha!

Q. Do I need to have a contract or an agreement form?
A. Not every house sitter will agree with me here. I believe a simple agreement form is important to have between the homeowner and the house sitter. Just the word contract scares some people off. I know it does me so I prefer the agreement form. I like to keep it in simple language. Let the homeowner know up front, that there will be a simple agreement form in place stating the main points we talk about and agree upon. If you are a paid house sitter as I am, it should also have details of payment and serve as a receipt.

Having an agreement form shows you are professional, serious, and committed to the job at hand. Read over the agreement form with the homeowner and make sure it works for both of you. Once it is signed, it can be put away and hopefully never have to be pulled out again.

An up and coming house sitter wants to know:

Q. How Much are Homeowners Expecting from a House Sitter?
A. That is a great question. Homeowners are looking for someone to take care of their family pets and home while they are away.. Since most house sits come with pets, that is the top priority from my experience. You are expected to love, feed and walk the pets and care for the home in a capable and responsible way.

If you charge a flat rate, this is what should be included in that rate per day. An easy regime of:

Pet care
Bring in mail/papers
water plants
Put out the trash cans/recycling

Every situation is different. This is how I like it to roll. Smooth and easy. If a homeowner is asking for more than this, you will need to discuss their needs and you can charge extra for anything above and beyond. Don't take on more than you handle.

Q. What Happens When a Homeowner Cancels the House Sit?
A. Yes, once in a while, a house sit you have been planning on, is canceled on you. Every situation is a little different. If this house sit has been in the works for a month or two and you have turned down work during that time, you should be asking for the full amount owed to you. At the very least, keep the deposit of half the amount you should have collected upfront. The homeowner in this situation would probably offer that to you anyway, and will want to stay in good standing, as they may want to hire you down the road.

Now, if this were a house sit, you have just booked only a day or two ago, I would just let that go. I try not to be disappointed as that might have been the house sit I would have regretted. Most of the time, the homeowner is very cool about it and knows you have worked hard. Don't worry though, more house sits will come your way. They always do. You always want to handle these situations with grace as you are trying to build a solid client list of people you can count on.