We know that leaving your home in the care of someone else can be stressful. We want to make sure that you are able to relax while you’re away knowing that your home is being well taken care of. Here’s some information to think about to ensure you’re ready to hand over the care of your home to your house sitter on the day that you leave. (If you’re leaving one or more pets in the care of your house sitter see the companion document to this one: Pet Checklist).
It’s a good idea to put an information pack together containing all of the material that your house sitter needs to provide top-quality care for your home. Place all important items in plastic A4 sheets in a sturdy folder which can be used over again. Consider including the following in your information pack:
If you would like to have a role in the management of your property while you’re away you will need to leave your contact information. You may like to ask your house sitter to send you regular email updates on the status of your home and animals while you’re away. Let the house sitter know the best way to contact you while you’re gone – email, cell-phone, Facebook messenger – whatever vehicle you might like them to use.
Emergency contact information
You may want to assign a friend, relative or neighbor as an important contact person to liaison with your house sitter in your absence. If so, leave enough of their contact information so that your house sitter can reach them at any time of the day or night. You need to establish how comfortable your nominated contact person is with the idea of making decisions on your behalf.
If you have strong feelings about the numbers and types of people who may (or may not) visit your home with your house sitter’s consent, include this information in your house sitting agreement.
Home contents not to be used
You may like to make a list of items you don’t want your house sitter to use (add this to your house sitting agreement).
Rooms to be kept private
You may like to write a list of any areas or rooms in your house or on your property that you don’t want your house sitter to use (add this to your house sitting agreement).
Tell others you’re leaving
It’s crucial that other people know about your arrangements with your house sitter to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. Let your neighbors, friends and family know that you have a house sitter moving into your home on a particular date.
Contact your insurance company to let them know you will have a house sitter moving into your home. Your home and contents premium should be unaffected by this information.
If you’ve negotiated with your house sitter to keep some of your usual services running while you’re away, it’s important to tell your service providers (maid, gardener or grounds person etc.) about your house sitting arrangement.
Preparing your home
Your home is like a ship and you are like its captain. Before you go, you need to get it shipshape both for your house sitter and for your own return. Store your breakables/precious items in a secure area such as a locked cupboard or your attic space. This can include anything made of glass or ceramics that you value (such as framed photographs, sculptures, trophies, vases, artworks, even a favorite snow globe). Accidents do happen but they don’t need to happen to your breakable treasures as not only will you be upset your sitter will as well.
Store your valuables
It is only commonsense to store your valuables in a secure locked area while you’re away. If your valuables are especially expensive then you need to maintain your usual security precautions in your absence. If you feel it necessary, make an inventory of your valuables before you go.
Clean your home
It’s a good idea to ensure your house and grounds are clean and tidy in preparation for your house sitter’s arrival. Note that in the house sitting agreement your house sitter has agreed to maintain your home and garden to the condition that they first encountered them. In the kitchen make sure the fridge is clean, toss any old food/perishables which can’t be eaten otherwise let your sitter know they’re welcome to use what you leave. Clean the oven/microwave. Same with the bathroom, give you sitter a clean space, clean towels etc. Bedroom, clean linen, space to hang clothes (on hangers!) Your sitter may arrive with a suitcase, but they really don’t want to live out of one, even for few days …. we like to feel at home, wouldn’t you? If your home is larger than your house sitter needs you may prefer to close some rooms down, your sitter will certainly respect your wishes regarding their use.
Use of your vehicle
If you are happy to have your house sitter use your vehicle while you’re away you need to do the following: – familiarize them with your vehicle before you go – add their name to your motor vehicle insurance policy – have them confirm in writing that they will be liable for any costs and damages incurred while using your vehicle including paying any excess fees on any resulting insurance claim (this can be added to your house sitting agreement). – provide local driving regulation information for their reference
Maintenance of your vehicle You may want to have your vehicle maintained in your absence. This could include asking your house sitter to start your car once a week and/or clean your car of leaves, dust and bird droppings.
Use of your bicycle You may be happy for your house sitter to use your bicycle. Familiarize your house sitter with any security locks you may use including combination numbers and spare keys.
Remote control devices Be sure to leave your garage door opener or similar device out in plain sight to allow your house sitter access to your garage. And be sure you show them how to use the device.
Preparing your animals
Take the time to prepare your animals for your departure, thoroughly pet proof your home and educate your house sitter in the finer points of caring for your pets. Complete a PET PROFILE form** this provides all the information about your pets they could possibly need. Your house sitter really wants to provide the best possible care for your precious pets.
Preparing to travel
A few simple preparations can make being away from home a snap!
Inventory of valuables Make an inventory of your valuables before you go and store it in a secure place (such as with a relative, a friend, or in an online digital safe). Note that this list does not go in your house sitter’s information pack.
Services Your house sitter needs to know everything about your home’s usual services in order to keep everything running smoothly.
Garbage collection Make a note of which day your garbage is collected. Provide plenty of garbage bags of the right size and strength. Explain what is considered garbage and what is accepted as recycle. If you also are required to separate food into a compost bin, be sure to include this in your garbage instructions.
Recycling services Make a note of the day your recycling is collected. Have any recycling equipment available for your house sitter to use. Let your house sitter know what can and can’t be recycled through your curbside collection service.
Subscriptions You may want to suspend or cancel any magazine or newspaper subscriptions you may have.
Pay-per-view TV Leave information about your service provider
Internet access Most sitters need internet access after all their “job” is web based and they need to keep in contact with you. Please advise your sitters, in our case Jonathan, if the internet service isn’t fast and reliable, it really is THAT important to us especially. Leave service provider info along with access codes and contact name in case of problems
Mail redirection You may want to set up a redirection order for your mail – although this is what house sitters are for! If you would like your mail to continue to arrive at your house, let the sitter know if you would like it sorted or just collected. Also note if you are expecting any important mail so they can alert you to its arrival.
Home deliveries You may want to suspend or cancel any regular home deliveries you may have including dairy products and organic vegetables .
Cleaning, gardening and lawn mowing services Let everyone know there will be house sitters in your home make introductions if at all possible or you may want to suspend or cancel visits by your regular cleaner, gardener or lawn mower if you have pets being cared for remember this is a big responsibility and time consuming retaining the home help services is always very much appreciated. If you do not have these services then let the house sitter know what responsibilities they will have for the yard and garden, as well as showing them any equipment they may need.
Your house sitter’s needs House sitters are people too and they will need the facilities to live their own lives in your home as well as enough information to settle into your home and neighborhood quickly and easily.
Spare keys Leave a set of spare keys with your nominated contact person (if you have one). Your house sitter will need their own set of your keys plus a spare set.
Tourist information Mark up a local map with some of the area’s local supermarkets, library, internet cafe, cinema, DVD rental shop, dog park, restaurants and any other spots you feel would be helpful for your sitter.
Transport maps Local transport maps covering travel by bicycle, bus, train, tram and underground are invaluable for helping your house sitters get oriented.
Storage space You may need to empty some cupboards and drawers for your house sitter to stow their belongings.
Clean linen Put out clean bed linen and towels for your house sitter.
First meal Provide the essentials for your house sitter’s first meal in your home or at least milk, tea/coffee/water bread, butter and eggs.
Parking Describe what parking is allowed on or near your property including costs and restrictions. You may be able to arrange for a visitors parking permit for your house sitter to use during their stay.
Local driving information Provide local driving regulation information for your house sitter’s reference.
Utilities Your utilities will (thankfully) continue to be paid for and function in your absence. Your house sitter needs to know everything about maintaining these critical elements in your home.
Gas and electric Leave instructions for the safe use of your electricity and gas services. Show your house sitter where the relevant meters are as well as the fuse boxes and cut-off switches. Take meter readings on your last day in the property so that your house sitter’s share of the utility bills can be worked out on your return if you are expecting them to cover this. (Use the fields in your house-sitting agreement to record your meter readings.)
Heating and air-conditioning Leave detailed instructions on how to program the heating and air-conditioning systems. Show your house sitter where the relevant heating and air-con switches and thermostats are.
Water and drains Leave instructions on the location of your water mains tap and the access area to your drains system in case of emergency or routine maintenance.
Laundry appliances It’s amazing how quirky and bad tempered your laundry appliances can get with age. Leave instructions for your house sitter on how to use your washing machine and dryer.
Grounds maintenance Only you know just how much loving your outside space needs in your absence.
Compost Make a list of what you would and wouldn’t like your house sitter to add to your compost.
Pool maintenance Have your pool equipment and chemicals available for your house sitter to use. Attach clear written instructions to these.
Garden tools Make sure your garden tools are accessible. Leave a copy of your shed keys for your house sitter.
Indoor plant maintenance Leave any supplies for your indoor plants out for your house sitter. Attach written instructions to these.
Lawn maintenance Check that your lawnmower is in good working order. Leave a spare can of fuel for your lawn mower if required. Attach hoses to outdoor water supplies for watering your garden and lawn. Leave rakes and a wheelbarrow out for your house sitter.
Bird feeders Leave enough wild seed to keep your bird feeders topped up while you’re away.
Security Your usual security systems and precautions should continue unabated in your absence. Your house sitter will make every effort to conscientiously protect your home and household contents in all the ways that you describe.
Security systems If you have an alarm system, you may need to make arrangements with the security company for a code and security password specifically for your house sitter to use. Security systems can be very tricky (and noisy) so be sure to tell your house sitter how to manage your alarm system in exact detail and if possible show them how to use it before you depart.
Window locks and security doors Any keys for window locks and security doors should be left with your house sitter.
Well done…you’ve made it to the end of this list. Now you can leave your home knowing that your house sitter is exceptionally well-prepared to take on their duties and responsibilities in caring for your home and precious pets. Now relax and have a great time!