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For owners: What are the advantages of having a house sitter rather than a paying tenant in my home?

If you don't need income from the sale of your property to fund your adventures it often makes more sense to choose a house sitter to mind your house while you're away rather than let your house to a paying tenant. The benefits of having a house sitter to care  for your animals in your absence are obvious. But even if you've only the welfare of a few pot plants to consider, the advantages of having a house sitter over a tenant are many.

Your pets will thank you for it
Animal psychologists and vets agree that boarding your animals for any length of time can place a huge strain on their physical and emotional health. Even taking your pets on holiday with you can be a far less pleasant experience for them than it is for you (think of cargo holds, vaccinations and sedatives, time spent in quarantine, time spent in a travel container, motion sickness, unfamiliar surroundings, hostile strange animals, unfamiliar food, heatstroke, having to sleep outside - the list goes on). A house sitter can go a long way toward meeting your pet's needs, providing companionship and love as well as keeping them fed, exercised, safe and healthy. If your animals are used to sleeping with you, you can even ask your house sitter if they would mind letting Fluffy in bed for a cuddle.

Your house sitter is working for you
Where the landlord-tenant relationship is based on a tenancy agreement and the exchange of money and nothing more, a house sitter is, in essence, working for you. It is a house sitter's job to ensure that the needs of your animals and property are met in all the ways that you specify. The relationship between home owner and house sitter is most often a mutually agreeable and productive one with good lines of communication established early on. Your house sitter will expect to be asked to perform a whole range of tasks to maintain your land and house in the same condition as when you left it as well as care for any number of pets to maintain their good health and happiness. And in the event of a minor or major emergency your house sitter is always on hand to organise repairs in your absence. (Trying getting an estate agent on the phone at 3am).

Saving money
Although it may sound illogical, it can actually make good financial sense to choose a house sitter over a paying tenant. If you're leaving one or more pets behind then the cost of outside care for your animals will most likely far outweigh any rental income you can expect from your property. And with a house sitter you don't have to put your furniture and lifetime's possessions into storage (this can be very expensive!)  You also won't need to pay to have your vehicles stored in a secure parking facility. You'll also most likely save on the costs of redecorating and making minor repairs that needs to be done every time your tenants move out. As a general rule, a house sitter will take much better care of your home than a tenant as they are keenly aware that the responsibility for its upkeep resides squarely with them.

Keeping your life 'connected' while you're away
One of the less obvious benefits of having a house sitter is that they can keep your life back home 'connected' while you're away. By answering your phone and door to any visitors and forwarding your mail and messages to you, your house sitter provides the link between your old (usual) life and the life you're living while away. You can ask your house sitter to stay in regular contact with you to keep to you informed of any issues that may affect your animals or property. Of course, if you'd rather not know what's going on back home you can nominate someone else to be a contact person for your house sitter.

Increased security
Everyone agrees that an occupied home is far more secure than an empty one. A house sitter will provide far better security for your home than a tenant. This is because a house sitter will have signed a document stating that they will be in your home most nights (or every night if they have your animals in their care). A tenant, however, is not obliged to be 'at home' at all. Indeed, your home could be left empty for months on end if your tenants choose to go on an extended holiday. There's also a risk that your home could remain empty for some time between tenancies or due to a slack rental market.

Your home remains in your control
When you engage the services of a house sitter, your property effectively remains in your control, however, with a tenant you've temporarily sold the right to call your house a home to someone else. The nature of the contract between house sitter and home owner means that your home is there for you when you need it. Should you need to return early or sporadically during your travels, your house sitter should be flexible enough to allow this to happen.

Your house sitter can be bound by all the usual safeguards
And finally, your house sitter can be subject to all the usual legal precautionary requirements that a tenant is bound by. In fact, a responsible house sitter is usually prepared to offer home owners many more reassurances that they are trustworthy than is required of a tenant. These can include a recent police record check, references, a security deposit (of no more than the equivalent of a month's rent for a similar property in the same area) as well as a signed legally binding agreement. We recommend that home owners interview house sitters before choosing someone for the assignment. Once you've made an offer to a house sitter and it's been accepted you both need to go through our house sitting agreement together to negotiate the terms of the deal.