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House Sitters Wanted

Frequently Asked Questions

"My Account Verification e-mail never showed up!?"

It's almost certainly in your 'Spam' folder. Look in the Knowledge Base under Membership issues entitled 'Housem8 emails are not Spam, how to help them through'

We're sure this will solve 99% of these issues.

"How much does it cost to join housem8.com"

Home owners join for FREE, and it always will be that way.

House Sitters can also join for FREE, and for the time being at least, they can use all the full site's facilities. At sometime in the future, however, we will change all sitter memberships to a basic level of membership, which will mean that they will not be able to apply for house sits, and they will be able to receive home owner's messages, but will be unable to reply until they upgrade to the paid membership level.

We will of course give ample notice of this happening and no-one will ever owe us any money unless they actively opt-in to upgrade.

So for now, enjoy using the site for free and happy house sitting!

 

 

"What is a Calendar Clash when it shows up on a sitter's profile, when seen by a home owner??"

This symbol shows when a sitter is not available for the dates of the owner's assignment, so in case the sitter is flexible, it might be worth contacting them anyway!

"Do house or pet sitters usually expect to be paid?"

This is entirely a matter to be discussed between all parties at the stage of drafting the house sitter agreement.

If a sitter charges money for their service, parties might wish to consider the following non-exclusive list of issues:

1) If charging for their services, the legal liabilities of sitters might well be affected as opposed to if there were no financial transaction. Accordingly, if money is changing hands, both parties might think carefully about non-conformance of a contract, competence to perform the house sit, and not least liability and insurance issues.

2) Do the sitter’s experience and aptitudes warrant the amount being charged?

3) Is a proper contract being used to safeguard both parties’ interests?

The owners of this website have been practising professional house and pet sitters for almost a decade, with over one hundred assignments’ worth of experience. House and pet sitting isn’t going to make any sitters rich, and it shouldn’t cost the homeowner a fortune, it should be a win / win for many reasons and running a sitting service as a business carries many legal and moral obligations that unpaid sitters do not have to consider. Think carefully before charging fees and giving money.

"If a home owner isn’t an owner, but a tenant, can they still use a house sitter?"

The short answer is almost certainly yes.

Once again, there are probably only legal implications if any money changes hands. It might be a good idea for any tenant to approach their landlord for permission to use a house sitter in the first instance, but once again, it is very likely that any landlord will be happier knowing that a property is occupied than left empty.

The proprietors of this website have undertaken assignments on several occasions where the clients have been tenants as opposed to owners, and even when we have charged for our services, there has never been any objection from landlords.

Once again, if everyone is honest with each other and permissions are sought in good time, it is unlikely that a tenant would not be able to use a sitter on the same terms as a home owner.

"Someone has asked me for money via this website before I have even met them. Is this usual?"

NO!

There are scammers all over the internet, and those low-down bottom-feeding filth just love to try using websites like ours to deceive decent people going about their daily honest business.

If ANYONE, purporting to be a house sitter or homeowner, asks for any payment before having met up with the other party, DO NOT send any money.  Even then, proceed with caution only after you have made sensible reference checks.

Any professional sitter should be happy to take payment on the last day of the assignment for a first time client. Or at least the fee can be held in escrow by a trusted third party.

If anyone asks for money over e-mail or telephone before both parties have physically met with each other, immediately cease to have any further communication with that individual, then report them to me.  I’ll delete their account instantly and inform the police in whatever country the scam originates.

 

"Is there any form of written agreement that can be used by owners and sitters for agreeing the terms of the house sit assignment?"

Yes, and it is available to download from the resources section of this website!

Please bear in mind that this document is simply intended as a checklist, it is not intended as a legal instrument, it has not been written by a legal professional, it is only intended to be the basis for discussion and agreement over the issues likely to be considered on a typical assignment.

Anyone requiring a legally binding legal contract should consult an appropriate professional

"Will the presence of a sitter affect any home insurance policy?"

The short answer is probably that it will not. From a common sense point of view, a house that is attended by someone who is charged with ensuring its security is probably a far better risk for  an insurance company than a property that is left unattended.

However, it would be very sensible for the homeowner to inform their insurers of a house sitter in residence, as that is a material fact that could affect the level of cover.  With insurance companies, it is always best to be transparent and open, in order that they have no grounds to refuse payment of a claim due to the policy holder not disclosing a material fact.

Also bear in mind that if a professional sitter offers liability insurance, it probably will not be intended to replace the homeowners usual cover, so the homeowner should consult their insurers if there is any doubt.

"Should the sitter be asked to provide a refundable cash security bond?"

Some homeowners ask for a bond, in our experience the majority don’t.  If a bond is required by the owner then the following issues might be considered:

1) Will an agreement be drawn up stating exactly what circumstances give rise to the bond not being returned in whole or in part?

2) Will the bond be held by a third party in ‘escrow’ perhaps by a solicitor or disinterested trustworthy individual?

3) Will the bond be receipted and the receipt signed by both parties?

4) If the homeowner cancels the assignment at short notice or returns home unexpectedly early, is there any agreed compensation structure in place to cover any possible unexpected costs incurred by the sitter?

 

"Who pays the utility bills during an assignment?"

The usual arrangement here is a common-sense agreement that might take into account:

1) The size of the property and the number of sitters in it during the assignment.

2) The duration of the assignment.

3) The season of the year.

4) Are any pets or significant work involved in the assignment?

Thus, if the house is a 14 bedroomed chateau in rural France in the midst of a biting winter, the sitter being held responsible with looking after a menagerie of pets, donkeys and poultry, it would probably NOT seem reasonable to charge that sitter for the vast cost of heating all the rooms to prevent the pipes from freezing. Especially if the sitter might only be using, say, one bedroom, the lounge, the kitchen and the bathroom.

Or, if a homeowner has a pampered cat that sleeps in a luxury heated conservatory in the middle of winter, it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect the sitter to pay all the bills for that.

On the other hand, if the sitter is only providing a security presence for a City Centre apartment over the summer, whilst the owner is away on long term business, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask that sitter to perhaps pay all the utilities over and above the standing charges, and perhaps contribute towards the monthly rates or property tax.

One suggestion might be for the sitters to be shown historical utility bills for the time of year of the assignment when the homeowner would normally be present, and a cap or proportion agreed if appropriate.

 

"Who is responsible for any damage that might be caused to any homeowner’s property, or any injury to a sitter whilst on assignment?"

Once again, this is all down to all parties using an agreement that takes such matters into account, and we wouldn’t pretend nor dare to suggest anything in this regard that could be construed as advice for legal purposes.

However sitters and owners might wish to discuss:

Have any irreplaceable or very high value items been safely stored to prevent damage by sitters?

Does the homeowners home insurance cover operate with sitters in the home?

Are there any issues or items within the owner’s property and gardens which might cause injury to a sitter (e.g. loose slabs, slippery patio in the wet, dodgy connection to an electrical appliance, loose railings etc etc. . . .)?

Don’t have nightmares. If everyone is sensible and reasonable, a couple of broken coffee mugs isn’t going to start a federal law suit!  But, if your are a particularly fastidious homeowner with a clinically clean house, with your books in alphabetical order by author surname, you might want to consider whether that scruffy bohemian student is the sitter for you.

This is why our website works so well, it attempts to match like minded people very carefully, so that negative issues should not occur!

"Are house and pet sitters expected to bring their own food to the assignment?"

Broadly speaking, yes. Obviously there are no hard and fast rules to this, but the usual arrangement is that sitters will buy and consume their own food during the assignment. However, in practice, if there is a fridge full of food that will go out of date whilst the homeowner is absent, there’s no reason why the sitter shouldn’t consume items rather than them being thrown away.

The most impolite thing a sitter could do would be to drink the homeowner’s wine cellar dry and leave an empty fridge for the homeowners return. The golden rules are:

1 Sitters should replace any foodstuffs they consume if the items weren’t perishable or within the use-by date.

2 Sitters should NOT drink any alcohol from the owners stock, and if they do, should replace like for like.

3 Both parties might want to ensure that this is covered in the house sitting agreement.

4: Sitters should always be considerate and leave at least tea, coffee, bread and fresh milk for the owner’s return.

"I'm being told to UPGRADE from Bronze Membership. What's that all about?"

In the future we will have a system of Bronze, Silver and Gold Memberships. For now, every sitter is effectively a 'Silver' and as soon as your profile is complete, that error message should disappear. If it doesn't, please send in a support ticket.


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