It is easy to find willing house sitters. With the mobility of our current society, house sitting is a service whose time has come and there are many reputable companies providing these services online and at the community level. If you are going to be gone a short period of a few days to a couple weeks, a local person is often your best bet. Start by telling people you know that you are looking for a house sitter. Word of mouth will often bring interested candidates forward. Even locally, however, websites can be of value. Many local people utilize these services to increase their customer base. Ads can be found or placed on sites such as Housecarers.com, Craigslist.org, Rover.com and others.
If you are considering using one of these sites, make sure you do some background research. Try to find out from other sources whether the site has a good reputation. Find out what checks the site conducts on the people their sitters. Most now have police checks and many now provide ratings and badges based on additional background checks, ID verification, how quickly and well the sitter responds, performs on the job, etc. Find out whether they have insurance in place to cover any highly unlikely but potential theft or damage caused by a sitter.
The house sitter you are considering should have excellent references. Try to get three references as a minimum. Make sure that you are able to contact these referenceseither in person or by telephone. For extra peace of mind, make sure that the house sitter is able to show proof of a clean criminal record. Reputable house sitters will not be offended by these questions.
It is important to not only to trust the references, but to trust your own instincts. If you have interviewed a prospective house sitter and you are still unsure, take time to think it over. If necessary, see a few different sitters until you are happy with your choice. The way that a house sitter dresses and conducts her/himself during an interview will play an important part in your choice. The prospective house sitter should not mind answering all of your questions, no matter how strange the questions may seem.
Most sites now offer ID verification but, if you don’t see it, ask to view the sitter’s ID. If you have a printer, make a copy of their driver’s license. Though you will probably never need it, it is a good backup precaution should you need to hunt the person down.
If you have an animal with special needs such as medications, a particularly challenging personality, behavioral issues, or elderly, ask the sitter what kind of experience s/he has with that breed, issue, etc. It’s okay if they don’t have experience. Hire the person you hit it off with and feel most comfortable with, but be prepared to explain your feelings and needs in detail.
Look at what other experience a person has in life. If an applicant has no references but you like them, take a look at what other things they’ve done in life. Has she had pets of her own? Has he had a high-responsibility job in another field? How about a job that handled stress and emergencies. Often, these folks make great house sitters. I am grateful to the people who gave me a chance when I was first starting out. Though I had no references, I had a professional background in social work (highly responsible, often handling life-threatening issues), plus some experience in property management while working my way through college.
Lastly, after taking all necessary precautions to hire a reliable and trustworthy person, be sure you are also keeping their needs in mind. Many house sitters fall into the category we would call in social work, a “vulnerable population.” They are usually low-income, they may be older or disabled in some way, and they frequently have to report to the gig without having ever seen the home or met the owners in person. Be kind and courteous. Remember that house sitters, especially those working for free, are doing a great service to you. Be sure you tell them in advance of ALL duties they are required to do, and inform them of anything about your home or property that may put them off upon arrival. This could include noise, pollution, renovation work-in-progress, and other people that may come and go from the house.
If you follow all these guidelines, check the person thoroughly, and be sure to give a correct and in-depth picture of your needs and your property, you can feel assured of a high probability of having a satisfying experience with your house sitter(s).