If you are living in rented accommodation and wish to engage a house sitter to mind your property and animals in your absence there should be no reason why you can't do so. Check your written lease agreement for any sub-clauses that may prevent you from having a house sitter in the property. Usually, anyone is allowed to stay in a rental property with the lease holder's permission. However, if you want to charge your house sitter a fee to cover rental payments you are effectively subletting the property and are on much murkier legal ground. If your property is not covered by a rental agreement then it would be courteous to seek your landlord's permission before leaving your home in the care of a house sitter. It is widely agreed that an occupied property is far more secure than an empty one, so your landlord should be happy to consent to the arrangement.
Before you leave your property in the care of a house sitter check with your insurance company if there will be any changes to your premium for cover provided in the period that you're away. It is widely agreed that an occupied property is far more secure than an empty one, so your insurance provider should charge no penalty for the arrangement. In fact, the converse is often the case: many insurance providers say you cannot make a claim on your home and contents policy if the problem occurred after your property had been empty for more than 30-60 consecutive days. (The actual number of days varies between policies.)
The home owner may require a security deposit to insure against damages to their property. This is a reasonable request that should present no problems to the conscientious house sitter. The amount of deposit required and how it is paid should be negotiated between the home owner and the house sitter. As a general guide, it should be relative to the length of the house sitting assignment and be no more than the equivalent of one month's rent for a similar property in the area. Please note that you should never agree to send anyone a security deposit! To avoid the possibility of being defrauded, money should only change hands between house sitters and home owners when all parties are together at the property just before the home owners are about to leave. You can download our security deposit lodgement form to use in your arrangements. You'll find it near the end of the house sitting agreement in our Advice Centre.
Finances can be a tricky thing that needs to be spelt out and recorded to avoid misunderstandings. These two forms (see Appendix A of your house sitting agreement) are meant as a basic template to help create a formal record of the exchange of a security deposit between the house sitter and the home owner at the beginning and end of the house sitting assignment. The templates contain all the fields you should need to list all the parties' names and signatures.
Part of the security deposit lodgement form contains a template for the provision of a third party to hold the deposit and mediate its return at the end of the assignment. If you can find a neutral person to perform this service for you, all well and good. Solictors will perform this service for a fee (that may, however, be close to the amount involved). Usually, the deposit is paid to the home owner by the house sitter in the spirit of trust and good will that needs to be the foundation of every house sitting agreement of this type.
In the security deposit refund form there's space for the house sitter's expenses (for house maintenance and pet care costs etc) and liabilities (for payment for damages and any outstanding amounts owing for utilities etc) to be tallied up against the original deposit paid. There are another two forms to record these expenses in more detail.
Your possessions are probably as safe in your host's home as they are in your own. However, your precious items will probably not be included in the home owner's home and contents insurance so consider taking out your own insurance policy to cover your personal possessions when you're on the move.
It is well-known that criminals target website users with many versions of several familiar scams to try and gain money by deception. Unfortunately MindMyHouse is not immune from such activity. It has come to our attention that several unscrupulous individuals (if I could get my hands on them!) have been making bogus offers of house sitting assignments to some of our members in an attempt to gain money by deception. While there are many variations on these scams, they all have one strikingly similar element: these people will be asking you to send money. DON'T DO IT!
The good news is that you cannot become the victim of online fraud through your MindMyHouse membership unless you post your money away yourself.
Two popular scams include being asked to cash cheques on someone's behalf (for a percentage of their supposed value) and then post the criminal the remaining cash by Western Union. The second is being asked to send money to a bogus travel agent (also by Western Union). Please use your common sense when responding to emails you receive through your MindMyHouse membership. Any request to send money via a money transfer facility such as Western Union will be fraudulent. Please forward any suspicious emails to us and we will deal with the sender accordingly. If in doubt please ask! We will not tolerate this kind of inappropriate use of our site and will do our utmost to protect our members from receiving these kinds of emails. We are fully committed to ensuring that your use of MindMyHouse is pleasant and productive for you. We have methods in place to track and trace these rogues and are able to block them from re-registering with us under other pseudonyms. But some still get through. Please note that it remains perfectly legitimate for a home owner to request that a house sitter pay them a security deposit before leaving their home in their care. This process should be negotiated face-to-face by both parties just before the home owner leaves their property and a receipt for the deposit should be signed by all parties. You can view our House Sitting Agreement at the following link: http://www.mindmyhouse.com/about/privacy_policy
If we work together we can ensure that your use of our website is safe. With some insight and common sense we can relegate these would-be tricksters into the trash bin in your email browser where they belong! For expert advice about safer surfing and avoiding common internet scams, see the UK government sponsored website 'Get Safe Online' at http://www.getsafeonline.org.
In order to enjoy the protection we provide for your personal information on MindMyHouse.com you need to make sure that you observe the following general protocol:
To give home owners extra reassurance that you're not a member of the criminal fraternity, it's a good idea to commission a copy of your very own police check, or in other words, a statement from a government authority that proves your "lack of a criminal record". Having this available shows home owners that you're serious about presenting yourself as responsible and trustworthy and may put you ahead of the competition.
The process of commissioning a police check (known variously as a 'criminal record check' in Canada and a 'police certificate' in New Zealand) varies but is a fairly straightforward and inexpensive process.
Your criminal record check should be current (preferably less than one year old).
It's best that house sitters are totally upfront and honest with the home owner or their nominated contact person when they're on a house sitting assignment. Everyone understands that accidents do happen. If the house sitter reports any breakages or damages to the home owner in an honest and open kind of way then reparations can usually be cheerfully negotiated. There is a section near the end of the house sitting agreement that can be used to tally up and sort out any monies owing to either party at the end of the assignment. The house sitter can list any damages they've caused to the property in that section.
Home owners are advised to put all valuables and precious items out of harm's way while they're away from their property. For a comprehensive list of what home owners may need to do before they go see the Checklist for home owners and Checklist for pet owners in our Advice Centre.
While the home owner is away they may not want to be contacted by their house sitter. Instead, home owners can nominate a person (this could be a neighbour, friend or relative etc) to act on their behalf as a contact person for their house sitter. Among many possible tasks, this person can hold a spare set of keys to the property and can give consent to any urgent repairs. The nominated contact person should read and sign the house sitting agreement at the same time as the home owner and the house sitter.
Here at MindMyHouse.com we've crafted a plain-English house sitting agreement for you to refer to and sign prior to the beginning of the assignment. By having the document in front of you during the negotiation process, both the home owner and house sitter can discuss in detail what your expectations are of each other and what each person's responsibilities will be during the assignment. We've tried to cover all the bases but you may be able to think of your own amendments and clauses to add to the document. If there's anything in the agreement that you don't consider relevant simply cross it out (these amendments need to be initialled by all parties to the agreement). Your house sitting agreement can be used by the house sitter as a 'one-stop-shop' while the home owner is away for any information they will need to keep at hand: emergency contact numbers, recycling and rubbish days, security alarm codes, the day of the home owner's expected return!
Simply go to our house sitting agreement page in the Help section and download the house sitting agreement to your computer. It's a PDF file which means that you will need to have a copy of the free Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. If this sounds like too much techno babble, we've also included a Word formatted version and a Rich text format (RTF) version of the agreement which you can download to your desktop and send straight to your printer. Although we recommend using the PDF file as it has been laid out by our web designer and is easier to understand than the Word version.
This is entirely up to you. It is perfectly reasonable to ask your house sitter for a security deposit to insure against any damage to your property. If you would prefer the peace of mind a security deposit can bring, make this clear when you first contact potential house sitters. The amount is negotiable but shouldn't be more than the equivalent of a month's rent for a similar property in the area.
Please note that you should never request a security deposit to be sent to you before the assignment (especially over email)! To avoid the possibility of house sitters worrying about being defrauded, money should only change hands between house sitters and you when all parties are together at the property just before the you (the home owners) are about to leave.
Our house sitting agreement has a 'security deposit lodgement' form included in it which you can use to help make the whole process more organized and straightforward.
It's a good idea for home owners and house sitters to meet before finalizing the details of the assignment. However, due to the constraints of geography this may be a luxury that you do not have. Once a home owner has offered a house sitting assignment to a house sitter and they have accepted the offer it's time to finalise the agreement so that everyone can get organized. A lot of the negotiation of the particular requirements of the house sitting assignment can be done over the phone and by email. Be specific and be very accurate in what you would both like to see happen during the assignment so that the house sitter arrives prepared and ready to assume their responsibilities. If both parties have a copy of the house sitting agreement (located in our Help Centre) in front of them during this process then the agreement need only be signed once the house sitter arrives. It may be a good idea for the house sitter to spend the last night before the home owner leaves at the property so that they can learn about the particular requirements of the property and resident animals. Don't forget to quickly run through the Checklist for home owners and Checklist for pet owners (download and print out copies of these from our Help Centre). They contain reminders of the many things you may need to do before the home owner hands over the care of the property to the house sitter.
These checklists are intended to be used by busy home owners as they prepare to hand over the care of their property and animals to their house sitter. Who would remember to update their dog's registration tag contact details, to leave a copy of their shed key for their house sitter or to suspend their organic vegetable delivery without this list of friendly reminders? Home owners should quickly run through these lists with their house sitter so they'll know where everything is and be fully prepared to assume their responsibilities toward the property and animals after the home owner leaves. You can find these checklists in our Advice centre at the following URL: http://www.mindmyhouse.com/help