Congratulations that you have found a house sitting assignment! For the next step, use this checklist to make sure you're ready to start your house sitting assigment.
When two perfect strangers meet and arrange to take care of each other's house sitting requirements, it's a good idea that you both go into the situation equipped with a copy of our House sitter agreement. We've tried to cover all the bases with this plain-English document but as you go through it with the home owner you may think of further amendments, clauses and deletions you'd like to make to suit your particular situation.
It's a good idea to ask the home owner for an information pack, containing all of the material that you will need to provide top quality care for the home (and pets). Your signed and completed house sitting agreement will provide the cornerstone of your information pack. Consider requesting the following from the home owner:
Does the home owner want you regular email updates on the status of your home and animals while you're away? If so, ask the home owner for their contact details and how often they want to be notified.
Make sure that the home owner has a nominated contact person you can contact for emergencies eg. a friend, relative or neighbor and that you have their contact details.
Does the home owner have strong feelings about the numbers and types of people who may (or may not) visit their home during your stay? Include this information in your house sitting agreement.
If your home is a condominium, a unit or a rental property, you may want to ask if there are any rules or regulations that you need to follow.
You may want to ask the home owner if there are any contents or areas of the property that are out of bounds (add this to your house sitting agreement).
Ask the home owner whether they have home and contents insurance, and whether you will be covered during your stay.
If the home owner has any third party services running during your stay, it's important to ask for their details and schedule (eh. maid, gardener or grounds person etc) and if you are expected to give them access.
If the home owner is happy to let you use their vehicle, make sure you ask them to familiarize you with their vehicle before they go. Also, ask that they add your name to their motor vehicle insurance policy. Also, you should agree (in writing) who will be liable for any costs and damages incurred while using the vehicle, including payment of any excess fees on any resulting insurance claim (this can be added to your house sitting agreement). Also, make sure you are familiar with the local driving laws if you are coming from overseas.
The home owner may want you to have the vehicle maintained in their absence. This could include starting the car once a week and/or cleaning the car of leaves, dust and bird droppings.
The home owner may be happy for you to use their bicycle. Familiarise yourself with any security locks they may need you to use including combination numbers and spare keys.
Take the time to ensure that the home owner has fully educated you in the finer points of caring for their pets. This process is crucial to ensuring the house sitting assignment is a success for every party (animals included). In case the home owner is not aware, we have a checklist for them also: Before you go - checklist for pet owners.
A few simple preparations can make being away from home a snip!
If you are currently using an email address that is dependent on your home internet service provider, you may need to set up a new address that can travel with you. There are many hundreds of good, free email service providers you can sign up with in less than five minutes. Choose a service provider that gives each member account enough disk space to store, send and receive jpg (image) files.
If you are coming from overseas, don't forget to have a Plan B in place, in case something goes wrong and you are unable to stay at the property – it has been known to happen before! Being stuck in a foreign country without a backup plan can be a problem, unless you are prepared for all eventualities. Also, ask the home owner how you can get to their property, or if you can get a lift :)
You will need to know everything about the home's usual services in order to keep everything sailing along.
Make a note of which day the rubbish is collected. Make sure that the home owner provides plenty of rubbish bags of the right size and strength.
Make a note of the day the recycling is collected. Make sure that the home owner provides any recycling equipment available for you to use. Ask what can and can't be recycled through the kerbside collection service.
Ask the home owner if you are allowed to access any magazine or newspaper subscriptions they may have.
Ask the home owner if you are allowed to access any satellite, cable TV service. Also, find out if they expect you to pay, or whether they will pay.
Ask the home owner if you are allowed to access the internet/wifi service. Also, find out if they expect you to pay, or whether they will pay.
Ask the home owner if they want you to redirect their postal mail.
Ask the home owner to leave a set of spare keys with their nominated contact person in case you lose yours.
Ask if the home owner has a spare local transport maps that covers travel by bicycle, bus, train, tram and underground to help you get oriented.
Ask the home owner what parking arrangements are allowed on or near your property including costs and restrictions. If you are bringing your own car, do you need a visitors parking permit?
The utilities will need to be paid for in the home owners absence, either by you or the home owner (depending on what financial arrangements you have agreed to). Irregardless of who pays for the utilities however, you will need to know everything about maintaining these critical elements during your stay.
Ask the home owner for instructions on the safe use of electricity and gas services. Ask the home owner where the relevant meters are as well as the fuse boxes and cut-off switches. Take meter readings on your first day in the property so that the utility bills can be worked out on the home owners return. (Use the fields in your house sitting agreement to record meter readings.)
Ask the home owner for detailed instructions on how to program the heating and air-conditioning systems and where the relevant heating and air-con switches and thermostats are.
Ask the home owner to leave instructions on the location of the water mains tap and the access area to the drains system in case of emergency or routine maintenance.
It's amazing how quirky and bad tempered laundry appliances can get with age. Ask the home owner for instructions on how to keep on the right side of your washing machine and dryer.
Only the home owner knows just how much loving the outside space needs during your stay.
Ask the home owner for a list of what you can compost.
Ask the home owner for clear written instructions to maintain and clean the pool.
Ask the home owner where the garden tools are kept (are their shed keys?).
Ask the home owner for any supplies that you need to look after any indoor plants.
Ask the home owner for instructions on how to use the lawnmower and where to find the spare can of fuel. Also, ask for the location of the outdoor water supplies for watering the garden and how often you should do so.
Don't forget to keep the bird feeders topped up during your stay!
If the property has an alarm system, you may need to know the code and security password. Security systems can be very tricky (and noisy) so be sure to ask the home owner how to manage the alarm system in exact detail.
Ask the home owner if they have security cameras or other recording devices on their property, and whether they intend to operate these during your stay. We have included a special declaration regarding this in our "House sitter agreement" document (in section five), where the home owner can list the locations of these devices as well as the times of operation. If you don't want to consent to being recorded during your stay, make sure that you make this clear to the home owner before the assignment starts. If there is disagreement about this, remember that the home owner just wants to know that their house and pets are safe and are being looked after – there may be other ways of doing this, such as a regular zoom call or emailing photos of the pets daily to the home owner. This can even be alot of fun!
Ask the home owner for any keys for window locks and security doors that you need.
Well done...you've made it to the end of this list. Now you can begin your house sitting assignment knowing that your are well-prepared to take on your duties and responsibilities.