What do pet sitters do?

Pet sitters come to your home and care for your pet when you are gone. They may stay in your home the entire time you're gone — especially if they're also house sitting for you — or they may stop in a few times a day to care for your dog or cat. Make sure the pet sitter likes your breed of animal and is willing to spend time with your pet if you want your animal to have companionship while you are away. You might invite the sitter to do a trial run and spend time with your animal before you begin your trip.

If you choose to hire a pet sitter, recognize that the pet sitter’s main responsibility is to provide food for your animal, opportunities for your pet to relieve itself, and to empty a litter box or freshen a cage. If you have a dog, the pet sitter should walk the animal or let it outside to exercise.

It's your responsibility to supply enough food and toileting materials for the duration of your trip. If your pet has any medical conditions or habits that can affect its health, tell the pet sitter about it and explain what they can do to treat the condition or habit. Also, provide contact information for your pet’s veterinarian.

Whether you choose to have a house sitter or pet sitter to look after your animal, request regular updates about your pet’s well being. Often emails and text messages that include photographs is enough to help pet owners feel at ease about being away from their furry friend.

What do house sitters do?

A house sitter's primary responsibility is to make the house look occupied while the owners’ are away. The easiest way to do that is to move into the house.

If you prefer, the sitter may visit your home daily to simulate activity by doing things like turning the lights on and off, parking a car in the driveway, gathering mail, tending the garden and watering plants. These activities can deter potential break-ins or vandalism on homes that appear empty.

If the house sitter makes daily visits to the home, he or she should be seen coming and going. Ask your house sitter to arrive and leave your home during hours you’d normally come and go, if their schedule permits.

If you have a swimming pool, a house sitter is responsible for cleaning and maintaining it. They're also responsible for getting unanticipated home repairs that may be caused by storm damage, water leaks and appliance malfunctions done. If able, the house sitter may do the repairs or hire a contractor. Either way, the homeowner must agree to the scope of the repairs and pay the expense.

The purpose of a house sitter is to help the homeowner feel secure that their home and personal belongings are safe during their absence. Because most home insurance policies don’t cover homes that are empty for more than 30 days, a house sitter may also help you avoid losing your homeowner’s insurance or paying a higher premium.

What should I pay a pet or house sitter?

Make a list of the things you want the sitter to take care of in your absence.  Consider how long it will take to complete the tasks and if you want the sitter to reside in your home while you are away.  Then negotiate to reach a fair compensation agreement. Create a contract if you hire someone you've never met before.

If you only want the sitter to visit the home to turn the lights on and off, collect mail, water plants and make sure the house is secure, a neighbor or friend may be willing to do these things at no cost or for a small fee. The more the house sitter needs to do, the more they should be compensated.

If the sitter has to commute to your home to take care of small tasks, negotiate a single payment, daily or hourly rate. The cost per daily visit varies by market and depends on the length of the visit and the sitter’s list of duties. Angie’s List members who have employed house sitters say they pay an average of $37 per day for multiple visits, excluding an overnight stay.

If you want someone to live in your home while you are away, consider how the arrangement will benefit the house sitter. Sometimes vacationers are willing to house sit in exchange for a place to stay.  A young person or renter also may want an opportunity to live rent-free. Often, the homeowner will continue to pay the property’s mortgage and utilities, while allowing the house sitter to reside there in exchange for simple chores. The house sitter should pay the cost of their meals and toiletries.

How to hire a pet or house sitter

You can use a service to locate a suitable sitter or visit Angie’s List to read member reviews on house and pet sitters.  It’s up to you to interview the sitter, negotiate an agreement, check their references and get a criminal background check. You'll also have to schedule the dates of service. The homeowner and sitter can use email, online chats, telephone conversations or in-person meetings to get acquainted.

Before you choose a sitter, check their recommendations and verify their identity by getting a copy of their driver’s license or passport, if they entered the country to fill the position. The easiest way to obtain a criminal background check is ask the sitter to provide it or use an online website. To get the most up–to-date information, you’ll need to know where the person has been living for the past two to three years and if they have changed their name. You can verify their residence by examining their work history, rental recommendations or utility payment receipts.

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