House Sitting Etiquette

Written by tamiya king
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House Sitting Etiquette
House sitting for a friend or neighbour comes with its own set of rules. (home 3 image by Stacey Lynn Payne from

If you've been asked to housesit for a neighbour or friend, both sides have certain obligations. Keeping a few courtesies in mind will ensure that the house is safe.

Inviting Guests

When a family asks for a house sitter, set some clear rules concerning additional guests. The house sitter should not take advantage of spending time in the home, which means it is inappropriate to invite friends over for a party. This will increase the risk of something being broken or damaged in the home, and it is considered rude for individuals to spend significant time in a home they were not invited to by the resident. In some cases, it is acceptable for the house sitter to invite one or two friends over to spend time in the pool or to watch a movie, but this should be cleared with the owner(s) of the home first.

List of Duties

The owner of the home should leave the house sitter a small list of duties to fulfil. These tasks can include feeding the fish or other pets, checking the mail and watering the plants. Don't ask the house sitter to perform strenuous tasks such as moving or assembling furniture, unless the sitter is a family member or close friend. House sitters should check in with the owners daily to report that daily tasks have been completed.


The owner of the home should warn the house sitter about any elements that will need to be adjusted while the owner is away. These can include the alarm system or the sprinkler system. The owner should give the alarm code to the house sitter so the device can be deactivated when the sitter enters the home. This is one of the main reasons that it's so important to choose a house sitter who is trustworthy. If the sprinklers for the front and back yards come on automatically, the sitter will also need to know how to turn these on and off. If the homeowner will be gone for an extended period, cancel certain magazine or newspaper subscriptions, but major services, such as the phone and electricity, should be kept intact so the sitter can adequately monitor the home.


The homeowner should pay the house sitter for her services. Some owners give part of the payment before leaving for vacation and the remainder of the money upon their return. If the house sitter has to perform detailed duties such as light gardening or landscaping, the payment should be more. It is also acceptable for the house sitter to share part of her payment with a neighbour if the sitter has asked the neighbour to water outside plants or turn the sprinklers on and off on the days when the house sitter is not able to do so.

Contact Information

Just as the homeowners need to leave adequate contact information for the house sitter, it is also essential for the sitter to make sure that the homeowners can get in touch with her any time. Home and work phone numbers, as well as e-mail addresses, should be given to the homeowners before they leave. Homeowners should also provide the sitter with their vacation itinerary so the sitter can get in touch with the owners to inform them of any major changes with the home.

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