Housesitting requires trust. Parents will leave their babies to teenagers, but they’ll think twice about leaving their homes and pets to a stranger. Of course homes are expensive and they are our private space, so homeowners have every right to be apprehensive.
While housesitting is becoming an economical way to explore new places and cultures – while at the same time helping a homeowner take a holiday of their own – if you are new to housesitting, you should definitely avoid the following while looking after someone’s home.
1. Don't Move Things Around
You might like to color code your wardrobe and organize the books by the alphabet, but the homeowner might not. If the drawers are cluttered, the fridge is brimming with expired products and the bed linens are torn – leave them be. Even if you’re anxious to clean the place up, don’t throw anything away without the owner's permission. This is one of the cardinal rules of housesitting. When the owners return, they should find their home in exactly the same condition as they had left it.
2. Don't Let Their Plants Die
If the home you’re looking after has plants, it’s your duty to take care of them. Don’t let them whither and die. If you don't know how to take care of plants, look it up online or ask for instructions before the owners leave.
3. Don't Leave a Mess Behind
Imagine returning to your cozy home after a long, tiring flight. How would you feel if your house was dirty, smelly and garbage by the back door? It goes without saying, but it is utterly important that you clean up after yourself! Don't leave any dirty dishes in the sink, used linens in the laundry or candy wrappers lying around. Leave their place squeaky clean and you may get a call back!
4. Don’t Steal Anything
Well, this is obviously a big ‘no-no’ of housesitting… unless you want to sabotage your reputation and possibly spend time in jail. This includes the little stuff!
5. Don't Sort the Junk Mail
In fact, don't throw away any mail. Be it a torn newspaper, magazine or a suspicious-looking parcel, keep them all in a neat pile. You might not like subscription offers, newsletters, brochures and other junk mail but the houseowners might not share your view! Let them decide what is important.
6. Don't Use Their Groceries
Unless they have clearly stated that you can use their groceries, condiments and staples, it is your responsibility to buy your own food and personal products. Nobody likes coming home to a bare fridge… or empty toilet paper roll!
7. Don't Invite People Over
Housesitting is a huge responsibility that requires commitment and trust. Inviting your friends over for a party, barbeque or ‘sleep over’ – without the owner's permission – is a breach of trust.
8. Don't Forget the Pets
One of the reasons people use housesitters is to ensure that their pets are cared for and happy. If your housesitting assignment includes pets, make sure you have the guidelines and follow them religiously. Just like humans, pets are sensitive to changes in their lives. Do your best to spot their needs and respond to them. Keep the owners updated, and if possible, let them Skype with their pets!
9. Don't Hesitate to Ask Questions
It is vitally important that you and the homeowner communication. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to clear it up before they go. If they want you to forward their email, pay the utility bills, and take out the garbage, be clear on what’s required. No matter how long they are gone, keep them updated. They will be glad to know that their house and pets are safe and sound.
10. Don't Ignore the Neighbors
Housesitting is a great opportunity to live like a local, explore a new city and meet new people. Make sure you say hello to the neighbors, postman and local shopkeepers. Who knows... the polite small talk may get you a new assignment!
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