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4th January, 2015

4 Mistakes First Timers Make When Choosing A Sitter

House sitting is a wonderful service which provides pets with one-on-one care and gives the homeowner peace of mind while they are away…if everything goes 100% to plan. But, it can also go pear-shaped when essential preparations have been skipped or you get the wrong sitters.

At The Housesitting Company, our job is to make sure your house sit goes to plan and you don’t have any issues but if you are organizing a sitter on your own, here are 4 mistakes you don’t want to make:

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1) Leaving it to the last minute

When you leave things to the last minute, you tend to make impulse, rushed decisions. The first sitter that puts their hand up saying “I’ll house sit for you!” may not be the best person for the job, or for your pets. But since you have no time to look at other options, you take the risk because having anyone is better than having no one to house sit…right? Not always. I’ll let your imagination work out the possibilities of what can go wrong when you don’t have time to vet your sitters, have them meet your pets and go over detailed instructions with them. Which takes us to the next point.

 

2) Forgetting to watch your back

Some of the basics that people often overlook when booking sitters themselves are background checking and insurance cover. These two essentials sound inherently negative, because no one expects there to be a problem with the ‘lovely people you found online’. But I can assure you, although uncommon, the urban legends about coming home to find all your belongings stolen or a trashed lounge room aren’t all lies. This is why The Housesitting Company does annual police checks on all our sitters and gathers feedback from the homeowner after every house sit. If you are choosing a house sitter from a free online website, I can guarantee you that they don’t do any checking and therefore it is up to you to make sure you do due diligence on your sitters.

We believe that the safest thing you can do for your home is to have a house sitter living there whilst you are away. Most insurance companies even specify that your insurance policy is void if your home is unoccupied for a certain length of time. But you do need to check with your insurance company if they would pay out in the event of an insurance claim while the sitter occupied your home. This is why The Housesitting Company carries Public Liability Insurance to cover for ‘accidental loss or damage to property caused by the sitters’. Obviously, you don’t expect there to be any issues during your house sit, but it’s good to be prudent when it comes to insurance.

 

3) Not having backup sitters

Situations can come up and you don’t want to find yourself ‘lost at sea without a sitter’ if they bail on you before or during your house sit. Obviously this is a rare scenario, but at The Housesitting Company we have a lot of new homeowner’s coming to us the week before their sit because their ‘friend of a friend’ can no longer house sit for whatever reason.

You need to have a backup plan. Ideally you should meet with at least two sitters before going away so that if there is a problem, you could call up the second sitter to see if they are still available. But really, the best plan is to use an agency, like The Housesitting Company who has a database of sitters on call and will sort out any situations that arise before, during or after your house sit.

 

4) Choosing a friend with little or no experience

Your friend may be great at organizing coffee with the girls and commenting on all your Facebook posts, but are they really the right person to leave in charge of your pets, property and home? I’m not saying they aren’t, they may be the most trustworthy person you know who loves pets and respects your privacy. If so, book them in, get their police check done and call your insurance company to add their name to your policy. Then you need to break out of the ‘friend zone’ for a more formal meeting where you go over all your instructions with them about how your home is to be run and pets cared for. If your friend is not experienced with pets or you feel awkward telling them your expectations of them as your sitter, then perhaps you should be choosing someone else that house sits as a lifestyle and will treat your house sit seriously.

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In saying all this, the majority of the time, house sits go to plan and it is an incredible mutually beneficial arrangement between the homeowner and the sitter. But to make sure things go to plan, be diligent and avoid the mistakes we listed above…or call The Housesitting Company on 0800 748837 and we will take care of everything for you.

 

- Jason Strong

The Housesitting Company

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