House-Sitting Tips & Etiquette

April 1, 2020 | by BMI Staff

With warmer weather comes the beginning of family-vacation season. Whether you are house-sitting for someone else or looking for someone to watch your home while you are away, we have some house-sitting tips that might help you lay the foundation for your expectations

Communicate the alarm code. 

If you have a security system, this is a great way to keep an eye on your home from anywhere in the world. Especially if you are a frequent traveler, consider getting a security system to keep your away-from-home anxieties at bay. If you do happen to have a security system in your home, make sure to go over instructions for the device, including all of the necessary codes. Write pertinent information down and go over it with your house sitter in advance.

Leave a daily checklist.

Outside of keeping that lived-in look at your house while you are away, there are likely other household chores that must be tended to throughout the week. Make a list of the chores that must be completed by your house sitter. Include the day trash comes and mail pickup. If you have house plants or pets, include your watering schedule. Have a discussion about pets in advance to make sure your sitter is comfortable with tending to animals. These instructions will likely need to be quite detailed, and consider an increased pay for any pet care.

Sitters should arrive early.

Depending on the situation, the time needed to become acquainted with the job may vary. Regardless, it is important to arrive at the job with enough time to become acquainted with all of the tasks needed to be performed during your stay. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take notes. Go over the daily schedule and the rules of the home. 

Get all contact information from the homeowner.

The last thing anyone wants to stress about is an emergency occurring when they are not home, so make sure to exchange all contact information with one another. This way, if the worst should happen, both parties will be in-the-know straight away. Keep contact information (along with any written instructions for the home and security system) in a central area that you won’t forget.

Communicate the house rules.

Clarity on what is and isn’t allowed for the house-sitter is key to a good relationship between the sitter and homeowner. The way individuals run their homes can vary quite widely. Are pets allowed on the furniture? Is the wifi plan unlimited or restricted? Would it be acceptable for the sitter to invite a guest over? Should the sitter purchase food or is the household food up for grabs? Communicate these issues and anything else that might come into play clearly and up front.

Don’t skimp on safety.

Always lock up before leaving the house, even if only for a quick trip. Keep up with the appearance of the house you are looking after by tending to the yard, trash, and mail. This will ward off predators who tend to target vacant homes. If there is a newspaper in the driveway, pick it up. Keep the lawn from getting unruly, especially during extended stays. If there is snow on the ground, keep the walkway and driveway shoveled. Make it clear that the house you are looking after is not empty.

Hopefully these essential house-sitting tips will make you more confident when planning your next vacation or when looking after another person’s home for an extended period of time.