Need A House And Pet Sitter While Youre Away But Think You Cant Afford It Think Again


While you're out in the big world, your most precious possessions need to be cared for: your property and your animals. All sorts of service providers have sprung up to cater for this growing market, however, the services of agency-registered pet and house sitters can cost a great deal of money. Friends and family can step into the fold and agree to house sit for you but when someone is doing you a favour they can be notoriously unreliable.

But don't despair - there is a 'third way' to engage the services of a house sitter. It is

possible to find responsible and well-intentioned people who are keen to mind your

house and animals for their own reasons. They don't expect to be paid for their

services, in fact they'll pay you for their share of utilities. The secret of this modern

miracle lies in the power of the Internet to bring the right house sitter and the right

house sitting assignment together at the right moment in time.

Why do I need a house sitter?

Leaving your property empty for any length of time is tantamount to asking for

trouble. Not only is your vacant house far more likely to be vandalized and burgled

but your home and contents insurance becomes null and void after your home is

empty for 30 (or sometimes 60) consecutive days. In the words of every home

security, police authority and insurance advisor: 'Don't do it!'

It may seem easier to lock your house up and simply walk (or drive) away rather

than go through the process of finding a house sitter but your home is probably

your most valuable asset and as such, deserves the protection that a house sitter

can offer.

How often does something minor come up in your home that requires attention?

The person who is minding your house is on hand to organise repairs to storm

damage, prevent your pipes from freezing, keep leaves out of your drains, shovel

snow, pay the bills to keep your services connected. The list goes on... And if you

have a house sitter keeping your home running smoothly you don't need to go

through the rigmarole of shutting your home down (sealing drains and installing

random light switches etc) and then starting it up again upon your return.

Your animals will thank you for engaging a house sitter to provide them with care

and companionship in their usual safe environment while you're away. Without a

live-in pet sitter the cost of outside care for your pets could rival the cost of your

vacation! And taking them with you can be simply too stressful for them (and you).

What can I expect of my house sitter?

House sitters are by their very nature flexible and willing to consider your needs in

exchange for the privilege of free accommodation in your home. They will expect to

be asked to occupy your property for a given period of time and to be present in

your home every night. You can also ask your house sitter to look after any number

of animals, to maintain your pool, lawns, indoor plants and gardens, to forward any

mail and phone messages, to pay utility bills as required (working out their personal

share of bills at the end of the assignment) and to carry out any basic maintenance

that your home requires.

How do I find a free house sitter?

There are many thousands of house sitters who are currently advertising their free

services in online house sitting directories.

If you type a few generic search terms such as "house sitters" or

"house sitting" (use double quotes to perform the more accurate phrase search) into

a search engine you should be able to find a reputable and relevant website in the

top 100 search returns.

You may need to scrutinise several promising-looking (and high-ranking) websites

before you find those that offer the kind of free matching service that you're looking

for. Avoid those websites which are simply adverts for individual house sitter's

commercial services or traditional house sitting agencies.

Free house sitting matching websites generally follow two basic models of business

practice. In the first fully online model, house sitters pay an annual fee to create

their own sitter available advert which is online and searchable 24 hours per day.

Home owners register with the site then login to search its database of sitter

available adverts for suitable candidates, contacting their shortlist of house sitters

directly. Home owners can also advertise their house sitting assignment on these

sites and have house sitters email them through a blank contact form. A very good

site should strive to protect your anonymity until you're prepared to reveal your

contact details yourself.

In the second model, the website only serves as an advert for the business which is

conducted by the administrators 'behind the scenes'. House sitters pay a fee (this

can range from anything from US$95 to four times that amount) for an annual

membership with the website. In return the business owner agrees to include the

house sitters' adverts in either an email or printed mailing list which is sent out to

home owners.

Home owners are fortunate in that these house sitting websites are actively courting

your custom. As a home owner you should be able to register with the website for

free as well as search the database of sitter available adverts for free (or receive a

list of potential house sitters in your letterbox or inbox - again for free). However,

one very well established matching service does have the cheek to charge home

owners for access to its database. You need to decide whether you think it's worth

the small-ish investment (US$30 to read sitter available adverts and a further US$60

to post your own 100-word sitter wanted advert) to use this well-established site.

You may want to try your luck with the rest of the free services first as you've

nothing to lose by casting around on the different sites. However, if a site is very

badly made with illogical (or nonexistent) navigation structure and a search function

that doesn't seem to work avoid it. House sitters will be staying away from such a

service in droves as well.

What should I avoid when looking for a house sitter?

Horror house sitting stories do exist. The most spectacular one I've read (this could

be fact or fiction) is the hapless home owner who unknowingly engaged the services

of a crack-addicted workmate to mind his home while he was away. He arrived

home to find his safe detonated - the thieves had made off with everything. Short of

asking his workmate to take a drugs test what could he have done to avoid falling

into this hole?

Plenty. The conscientious and responsible house sitter will have all the

documentation ready to prove to you that they're trustworthy and reliable and want

to mind your home and animals for all the right reasons. This documentation could

include written references and the contact details of email and phone referees

(these people could be satisfied home owners, landlords or estate agents). They will

also have commissioned a recent police check on themselves to show that they're

not wanted in three states. A conscientious house sitter should be happy to work

through and sign a house sitting agreement with you as well as give you a security

deposit (of not more than the equivalent of a month's rent for a similar property in

your area).

Conclusion

In my work as a website editor and administrator I come across a great many lonely

online classifieds and forlorn requests on bulletin boards from home owners who

are looking for a house sitter who will work for free in exchange for

accommodation. These types of requests are the Internet equivalent of 'whistling in

the wind' as the right people never see them. Fortunately, the existence of new

online house sitting directories has changed all of that.

In the olden days (before the Internet brought us all together) a home owner who

needed someone to mind their home and care for Fluffy while they were out on the

road would most likely do the following: Phone a house sitting agency, accept the