Leaving your home empty for any length of time is just asking for trouble. Not only is your precious home vacant and far more likely to be burgled and vandalised but did you know that your home and contents insurance becomes null and void after just 30 (or sometimes 60) days of being empty? You don’t need to be a professional security expert to figure out that leaving your home empty just isn’t a good idea.
There is another option – find a house sitter!
What is a house sitter?
House-sitting is the practice whereby homeowner who is leaving their home while they travel for work or for vacation, entrusts it to another person, who by mutual agreement, lives in the home rent-free in exchange for assuming responsibilities such as taking care of the homeowner’s pets, performing general maintenance (including pools, lawns, air-conditioning systems etc.), keeping trespassers off the property, readdressing the mail, and in general, making sure that everything runs smoothly.
Do you need a house sitter?
It may seem much easier to simply lock up and walk (or drive, or fly) away rather than go through the process of finding a house sitter but your home is probably your most valuable asset and as such, deserves the protection that a house sitter can offer.
Your house sitter is working for you
The relationship between house sitter and home owner is not money based, but on trust and the free exchange of services (house and pet sitting) for goods (accommodation). Your house sitter is however, working for you. It is your house sitter’s job. And as part of their job it is your house sitter’s responsibility to ensure that the needs of your home and animals are met in the manner that you ask. 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 naturally expect to be asked to perform a whole range of tasks to maintain your home while you are away and to maintain it and leave it in the same condition as when you left it. Your house sitter will also take on full responsibility for the care of you pets ensuring that their good health and happiness.
Your pets will love it
The single most compelling reason for using a house sitter rather than letting your house fend for itself (and your pets pine for you from their cages) is the enormous cost of outside care for your animals.
Pet sitting facilities charge incredible sums to care for animals, which can be a costly addition to your travel budget. Furthermore, 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. A house sitter can go a long way toward meeting your pet’s needs, providing companionship and love and keeping them fed, exercised, safe and healthy. They can even administer medications. 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.
Keeping you connected while you travel
Another, less obvious, benefit of having a house sitter while you are way, is that they can keep your life back home on track. By answering your phone and door, and forwarding your mail and messages to you, your house sitter helps keep things running while you are away. You can also ask your house sitter to stay in regular contact with you to keep to you informed of any issues along with providing regular updates about your animals. 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.
Surprisingly, many home insurance policies contain a “vacancy clause”, which could catch you out while you are away. Travelling for more than 30 days? Your vacancy clause may kick in after just one month, leaving your home completely exposed if it is broken into. It is possible to buy cover for an empty house but the cost of the premium rapidly rises the longer your house is empty and quickly becomes sky-high.
Repairs and maintenance
Your house sitter is always on hand to organise repairs in the event of a minor or major emergency in your home during your absence. If there’s a power outage you won’t be smelling the contents of your freezer two blocks before you arrive home. If a pipe bursts, you won’t come home to massive water damage. A house sitter can keep the lawns mowed and attend to any issues that may arise while you are away. Without a housesitter, one broken window can make your house enormously attractive to those who would take pleasure from breaking the rest, but not if your house sitter is on the job and quickly arranges for a replacement.
‘Keeping an eye out’ is never enough
Many home owners ask friendly neighbours, friends or relatives to ‘keep an eye out’ for them or ‘pop in’ to their empty property. Unfortunately this type of solution never quite works out. A housesitter is in your home throughout the day and immediately picks up on any issues that arise. What if the power goes out and the freezer defrosts a couple of days before your neighbour pops by? What if your lonely dog howls all day and night (annoying the neighbour but not enough to do anything about it). And what about the lawns and overflowing, rain-soaked mail box – a huge mes for you to deal with on your arrival, and a sure sign that there’s nobody home – just what the local bad guy looks out for! A house sitter eliminates all of these problems.