House sitting arrangements are a common way people make sure their homes are not left vacant and unattended while they are gone. When setting up a house sitting agreement, both parties need to make sure they are protected in case of problems arising from the arrangements. A house sitting contract, though formal, is the best way to make sure there are no problems arising from these agreements.
The people who own the home are the obvious parties to the contract on one side. On the other side, the person who is being paid for the house sitting should also be party to the contract. Any other people who will be living in the house, such as children of the house sitter, also need to be named specifically in the contract. In addition, the homeowners need to indicate their rules for who may visit and for how long.
The person house sitting will use electricity, water, and other services. The homeowners and house sitters need to come to an agreement about how these costs will be handled. For someone who comes over simply to check on plants, dust, and handle mail, the homeowner should cover the utility costs, but if the house-sitter is staying in the home, the owners may want to negotiate a different arrangement.
As a way to make sure that there are no misunderstandings about the jobs of the house sitter, the agreement should have a list of requirements written out. These requirements should be as concrete as possible. Write "water plants at least twice per week" rather than "water plants as needed," for example. Consider how repairs and maintenance will be handled ahead of time, and how much responsibility the sitter will have to fix anything that breaks.
Attorneys and Notaries
In some cases, both parties to a house sitting agreement may want to consider having a notary public sign and seal the house sitting contract. In long-term cases, an attorney may be necessary to make sure that everyone involved is protected.
Likely the biggest issue for the house sitter is how payment will be handled. In some cases, the arrangement may be for the house sitter to get free lodgings in exchange for caring for the home. In other cases, the homeowners will need to pay a weekly or monthly fee to the house sitter. Pay should be spelt out clearly in the house sitting agreement.
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