House sitting Guide for Housesitting success
Housecarers Guidelines developed and tuned over 21 years, since our Launch in Oct 2000.

House sitting is staying in someone's home while away. This can be done for many reasons, such as taking care of pets or plants or simply providing security. House sitters may also be responsible for other tasks like light housekeeping or collecting mail.

The house sitter will perform specific services for your home and pets in exchange for free housing.

These duties can include taking in the mail, watering plants, feeding and walking your pet, and providing general security.

When looking for a house sitter, it is essential to choose someone you trust who will be responsible and take good care of your home in your absence.

House sitting is a great way to travel and save money on accommodation costs. It can also be an excellent opportunity to meet new people and experience different cultures.

This is a brief definition of House Sitting. For a full explanation of the House Sitting essentials listed below, Please review our article Responsibilities, Expectations, and Duties in House Sitting.

  • Responsibilities of the House Sitter
  • Responsibilities of the Homeowner
  • How the costs are agreed and shared
  • Finding House sits and matching with Homeowners
  • Becoming a House Sitter
  • Finding House Sitting Jobs or Assignments

Avoid the hassle of renting your home.

  • No packing. Your possessions stay in place.
  • No forwarding mail.
  • No storage expenses.
  • No disappointment when you return. You select a house sitter who agrees to your terms.

Avoid extra expenditures

  • No need to hire gardeners, pool service, or pet boarders.  Your sitter handles these services in exchange for their free accommodations.

Avoid imposing on your friends and family.

  • No reason to request sporadic visits to care for your home and pets.

Avoid becoming a crime statistic.

  • Deter a home burglary by maintaining a "lived-in" look.
More on Home Security - Defending your home and Posessions against Intruders"

As the homeowner, you should carefully consider your personal requirements and expectations.  It is your responsibility to clearly explain your criteria to potential house sitters and agree to the terms in a written contract.Every situation is unique; however, we have included the accepted standards of a general contract for your review. You can add and remove points to fit your situation.

The homeowner expects the house sitter to

  • Accept total responsibility of caring for your home, pets, yard, gardens, and pool areas.
  • Maintain a standard of care for your home and pets equivalent to and no less than your own.
  • Take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety and security of your home and contents at all times.

Tasks usually performed during a house sitting stay

  • Gardening
  • Lawn mowing
  • Garbage disposal
  • Pool maintenance
  • Readdressing mail
  • Forwarding faxes or important documents

Pet care

  • Regular walking
  • Bathing
  • Feeding
  • Vet visits and necessary medications

Read More about why a live-in House Sitter is the best solution to keep you pets happy and content when you go away. Pet Boarding Alternative - Pets Stay Home with a live-in Pet Sitter

People search for house sitting situations for many different reasons. The reasons might be financial or similar to why a homeowner may be leaving their homes.

Common House Sitter Objectives

  • Saving a down payment or deposit for a home of their own.
  • Meeting financial goals.
  • Saving for retirement.
  • Starting a small business.
  • Paying for school tuition.
  • Seeking short-term accommodations.
  • Renovating their own home.
  • Professionals transferred interstate or overseas.
  • Relocated and want to become familiar with the area before deciding on a certain neighborhood.
  • Retired with the freedom to experience different parts of the world.
  • Be near Grand Kids or other relatives
  • Mobile workers, Writers, Artists and others looking for a change in scenery and inspiration

At Housecarers, sitters include their motivations, Interests, Willing Pet Care, Locations, background, skills, and preferences as keywords. These appear on their profile. Then homeowners may filter search results for sitters by selecting key words. Some sitters are willing to mind dogs, but may have an allergy to cats. These filters allow the homeowner to search for sitters matching their requirements.

House sitting Key word examples

  • Study/ Education,Live in different cultures and communities,Experience new places,Travel or Holiday,Escape Cold Winter
  • Retiree, Traveller, Non-Smoker,Grey Nomads
  • Dogs, Cats, Hamsters, Fish, Rabbits
  • House sitting References, Community/Other References, Reviews, Police Checked
  • Gentlemans/ Hobby farm, Bed and Breakfasts, House sitting, Caretaking, Boat Sitting,Bed and Breakfasts
  • Home Maintenance, Pool Care, Garden Care, Mow lawns, dog walking, Pet Injections, Pet medication, Horse Care, Pool Care
  • Rural, Remote, Metro, Suburban, Coastal, Islands, Mountains

In most cases the homeowner pays. In limited cases this is negotiable between Homeowner and House sitter depending on the circumstances.

In limited cases the house sitter may pay for a portion of, some limited utilities (electricity, gas, phone calls/not phone rental) that they use during their stay. This only applies for long term housesits, without pet care.

It should only be a negotiated and agreed portion of the bill. A lot of utilities include a supply portion that has to be paid regardless of use. The housesitter should always be responsible for their own personal phone calls. In countries such as Canada where heating bills can be very high, this needs to be negotiated between the sitter and homeowner.

If the sitter is caring for pets and the heating is therefore also for the comfort of the pets a fair arrangement should be made. Remember the housesitter is saving you witnerising your house and providing a valuable service, and they should never be responsible for the entire heating bill. If there are a lot of extra duties with the housesit, and for short term sits, the the homeowner should cover the utilities. Also even for long term sits, the house also needs to be heated so that the pipes won't freeze - so a shared arrangement should be considered even for long term sits.

The house sitter must be mindful of conserving energy and be reasonable when using heating and lighting.

I am including below a comment from some Canadian house sitters.

The posters are definitely calling their charges utilities, not rent. However, if the posters couldn't find a housesitter, they would have to pay someone to remove snow from their sidewalk, rake leaves or  water plants; or put some effort into what's called "winterizing" your home if you want to shut it down for the winter.

And finding a short term renter through traditional means is difficult, so they use your site to do it. In some ways a housesitter is doing them a favour: they want their house occupied while they're away, yet they want to charge for it. I live on the southwest coast, so can't say what heating costs are in colder areas, but $800 for all utilities is absurd, particularly in this Alberta case where they're called fees - a fee a Canadian condo owner has to pay monthly regardless of occupancy. The house also needs to be heated so that the pipes won't freeze.

Other recurring bills

These include:

  • Phone rental
  • Propery Taxes, Council Rates
  • Condo Association Fees, Body corporate fees, Strata fees
  • local council rates, water, sewer
  • cable TV rental, security services, ISP rental

These remain the responsibility of the owner. If your arrangement will be 12 months or more in duration, you might consider allocating a portion of the recurring bills to the house sitter. There appears to be a practice in Canada where homeowners are asking up to 800 a month for utiliites. This is not normaly in the spirit of housesitting, particularily when considering the benefits a house sitter brings - and the alternate high cost of leaving a vacant home eg costs of winterizing a home.

Strata or Condo fees should not be included in the utilities as the condo owner has to pay monthly regardless of occupancy.

You must put any agreement on utility sharing in the housesitting agreement! You must also make it clear in your housesitting ad. Refer to our: Finalizing the arrangement - putting it in writing.

We encourage you to consult your insurance agent to discuss your policy coverage. Most agencies will agree that your home is more secure when it is occupied rather than empty.  You should review and update your list of contents covered and remain current on your insurance premiums.

Unless you learn otherwise, explain to your housesitter that your insurance does not protect their personal belongings. They should arrange for their own coverage during their stay at your home.

The homeowner may at their discretion, ask for a deposit equivalent to the amount you would collect as two weeks rent. This bond may be lodged with an independent party along with your written contract. An attorney or solicitor can help you with this procedure.

Many housesitters who have a proven level of maturity and responsibility believe that the payment of a bond is unnecessary. Each case is different and this should be addressed between each homeowner and housesitter.

We provide free Housesitting Agreements, Bond Lodgment, and Claim Forms for your convenience. They can be downoaded from the Support section of your Members area

We have developed an international database of homeowners and housesitters. We provide the most advanced registration process available in our field. Our technology allows members to add and edit their search information at their convenience. The new information is simultaneously updated on our site.

During registration, the Housesitter provides the following information, to facilitate matching:

  • Desired sitting location/s
  • Date available to sit
  • Age Range
  • Occupation
  • Gender/ Relationship Status
  • An autobiographical sketch/ motivations
  • Keywords defining skills, experience, motivations, interests
  • Peferered duration range of housesits they will consider -e.g. short term, medium, long term
  • Willingness to mind different pet/animal types e.g. They May select Dogs, but not Cats due to cat allergies
  • Upload Photos, References and Police Clearances

Housesitters membership subscription is US$50.00 per year. FREE membership is extended to homeowners. Homeowners may upgrade to a Premium Membership for USD$25.00

Upon registration, homeowners are assigned a secure and private message box identified by a personally chosen user name. Homeowners browse our Search pages and send messages inquiring about profiles that match their needs. When a sitter receives a message, we send an automatic email alert stating that you have a response waiting.

HouseCarers.com does not disclose the names, addresses, email addresses, or any other private information of either party. All messages are coordinated through our message system under your user name. Exercise your discretion to decide when to disclose personal information to each other. Refer to our guide "Steps To Selecting Your Housesitter"

When selecting a housesitter take your time and follow your intuition. You are entrusting the care of your most valuable asset and the person you choose should be willing to agree to all your requests for the opportunity of enjoying the benefits of living in your home.

These steps are intended to guide you through the process of choosing the right housesitter for your home. Carefully consider your expectations and organize them into a clear agenda you can use to screen each applicant.

Step 1

  • Access our Search pages to locate candidates who meet your criteria.

    AND / .OR

  • Post your free Confidential Sitter Required ad.
  • We will circulate it to Matching Housesitters, who are interested in your Location; Timing; Housesit Term(duration); and Pet Care preferences
  • We will forward application to you for your consideration (please respond to all applicants)
  • This is a more efficient process, as only available, interested and motivated house sitters will respond)
  • Send a clear and concise Message or Response to the candidate through the HouseCarers message system.
  • The candidate will receive an alert stating they have a Message or Response waiting.
  • Reminder- Parties are only identified by their user name at this step.

Step 2

  • You will be alerted by email when a candidate responds.
  • Compile a list of potential candidates who suit your needs.

Step 3

  • Respond to your selected candidates. At this stage, communicate by telephone, skype, email, or snail mail. You will know your comfort level. Ask the candidate to provide several references.

Step 4

  • Contact the candidate's references. Verify their qualifications. Would this person select the candidate to care for their home?

Step 5

  • Schedule and prepare for the interview.
  • Create a detailed list of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks to be handled while you're away.

Step 6

  • Conduct personal interviews of your selected candidates whose references and qualifications meet your standards.
  • Possible components of the interview:

    • A clear explanation of your expectations and required tasks.
    • An interaction with your pets. Do they get along? Do they have experience in caring for pets?
    • A request for a security deposit or bond. Credible sitters are in agreement to this.

    Be aware of any indications that the candidate is not willing to fulfill any of your requirements and do not choose that candidate. Follow your intuition.

    If possible, consider visiting their current residence. It will be a valuable indicator of how they will care for your home.

    HouseCarers.com does not screen or interview any registrant. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to verify candidate qualifications and identification.

    Please now refer to our guide Finalizing the arrangement - putting it in writing.

Your contract should include the terms and conditions under which a sitter may occupy your home. You can use our free House sitting Agreement and customize it with your requirements. This can be downloaded from your Members area, Support section

Your contract should include specific detailed instructions for the task list you prepared for your interview.

  • Instructions for lawn and garden care and the equipment used for these purposes.
  • Instructions for houseplant care, fertilizer, watering schedule, etc.
  • Instructions for pet care, feeding times, exercise schedule, vet visits, medication dosing.
  • Instructions for pool maintenance, reading chemical levels, etc.
  • Instructions for mail collecting, handling, and forwarding.
  • Guidelines for visitors, reporting damages and emergencies.

To minimize the risk of miscommunication, you should schedule a meeting to provide your sitter with hands-on training and demonstrations to guarantee a complete understanding of your requirements. This may be a skype, messenger or facetime meeting if it not practival to meet in person

In the limited cases where the sitter is sharing utility expenses, Your contract should specify your utility billing arrangement, - see "Who Pays the Bills"

There are several options available including:

  • Take a water/gas/electricity meter reading just before you depart and upon your return.
  • The Housesitter pays all bills from the date of their occupation.
  • The Homeowner pays back the agreed shared portion.
  • OR

  • Preferred: The Homeowner Arranges to continue paying the bills by direct debit, a friend, or a family member.
  • The sitter reimburses the Homeowner for the agreed share when the Homeowner returns.
  • In addition to securing a written agreement, you may want to arrange for a refundable deposit bond to be held by an independent party. Again your attorney, or solicitor can help you with this procedure or you can use our free Bond Lodgment and Claim Forms.

We are a Community for House Sitters to advertise and match up with homeowners. Most House Sitters will Housesit for no charge - just rent free accommodation. They include travelers, retirees, and people looking to save a deposit for a home. This is a great benefit especially for long term Housesits.

Some countries have more Professional Sitters (especially UK). Unfortunately when Sitters start charging all sorts of laws kick-in. It is no longer just fellow citizens helping each other, with the sitter as a guest in the home. This is the main spirit of our site and We don't want to turn it into a job site.

Non-charging house sitters are a guest in their home, so there are no Visa or Business regulations issues. Once we charge for House Sitting we are now a business, and need to have all our bases covered for operating a business in that location.

Many Sitters Housesit Internationally to save on travel costs. They are often prohibited by immigration laws to charge for House Sitting on a tourist visa. They are a guests in the foreign home. Some countries will even view House Sitting as non-paid work. That is why many sitter state on immigration forms, that they are visiting friends - which is true as they have established a friendship before they leave.

Travel expenses are normally covered by the sitter as the Homeowner can always choose a local.

For more information please select Guide at our home page.

Also bear in mind: Again:- if you are House Sitting in another country, on a tourist visa your are prohibited to accept money. You must declare you are a guest in the home when visiting the country - not house sitting.

For a full analysis on responsibilites, payment, and expecations please visit our page House Sitting Jobs and Assignments

Housecarers pioneered house sitting. We launched the World's first House sitting membership site way-back in October 2000. We have distilled 21 Years of customer feedback into refining and improving our secure matching process.

Register as a Home Owner or House Sitter to participate

Homeowner Premium Membership


USD$25.00   is required to activate your Premium Homeowner membership. 

  • Receive a verified supporter badge on your profile.
  • Add or Edit Your own Private notes to any House Sitters profile for reference.
  • On request we will access and load to your ad, Professional photos of scenic attractions in your vicinity to attract quality applicants.
  • On request, to attract more quality applications we will promote your confidential Housesitter required ad on our network of related social media sites. We forward applications to you for your consideration.
  • Participate in the Referral Rewards program.
  • Receive a bonus 6 months Membership when you take up House sitter paid membership.
  • Try Housesitting with free accommodation for a break away across your country, locally, or around the world! Refer yourself and add 6 months to your premium HO membership AND receive 6 bonus months Housesitter paid membership Totalling 18 months.

  • Know that you are contributing to the growth and improvement of a valuable worldwide community resource, that is helping home owners Leave the responsiblities of home ownership for a well earned break.
  • Help keep More Pets in their familiar environment with their routines intact.
  • You will be contributing to the running, and promotion of the Housecarers Community. We started the first world wide Housesitting Membership established in October 2000. Your contribution will help us continue this work to help more people. We see ourselves as a community, rather than a corporate site. We will never lose the personal touch.
  • More benefits and features will be added with your funding, and contribution to the Housecarers community.

Much of the revenue from Premium memberships is used to run, maintain, and promote the service. Membership Fee Revenue helps us match sitters with homeowners each year worldwide.

Search for House Sitter Results are ordered as follows

  • One third of search results are in random order so everyone has the same chance of appearing near the top
  • One third of search results are in join date order, rewarding long time supporters of the community
  • One third of search results are in Referral Point order, with the Referal Rewards Program. The more referral points the higher you appear in search results.

Search results are Cached for 1 hour by the system, to avoid performance response problems. This means search results will change every hour. Please bear in mind that you should include your desired locations on your profile, to appear in specific searches. Homeowners will normally perform Specific location Searches matching where they live. If they do not find sitters they may then perform a more general search for sitters who are flexible about locations.