We always had people ask us about our personal items as well (paperwork, bedroom, etc.). What we did was put a lock on our office door and bedroom door which holds most important personal belongings. This alleviated the need to even think about it, and mostly, the sitter never has to worry about anyone thinking they are rummaging through things…it’s a win win for both sides.
@long1016 The only consideration I will add to that idea is if the bedroom has an ensuite bathroom, you have to realize that the sitter cannot do anything if there is a plumbing issue there. Similarly if there is an issue on a floor above or below that locked area, as they cannot access it to remedy a problem. In the rare cases where I have done sits with locked areas, where there were good reasons for them (high profile jobs working from home), then I review that aspect with the homeowner before they travel.
Even if we had a room which is only an office, we wouldn’t lock it. What should a sitter want with our tax papers or insurance contracts? Anything else like passwords to financial sites or online banking are locked away in a small safe. We have the safe anyway not only because sitters are staying at the house once in a while. There’s always the possibility of burglary and this could happen when we are only away for a few hours.
You can say what you want but some people are just inherently nosey. They won’t necessarily have a use for them, but why even have to worry about it? I don’t care to have someone snoop through my personal, personal belongings (and I am not thinking this is something that will, or has ever happened). I just know I have had so many friends ask how we could ever let strangers into our home with all our paperwork around. We tell them we have kept a lock on the office door and they all think this is a great idea.
I wold not be the least bit offended if I went to a home and found the door locked (and by the way, if you weren’t trying to snoop, how would you ever know it was locked?) We have never encountered an issue with any of our over 20 sitters, but one never knows EVERYONE that enters their home. There has to be the trust issue involved, but now that we are on the sitting side, I would even feel better knowing the HO’s personal belongings were under lock and key.
We don’t have a room that can be locked, it’s as easy as that.
I didn’t say you shouldn’t lock yours. If you feel it’s a great idea I am the last person to tell you otherwise, but at our house it isn’t possible and I also don’t care if people snoop. Those who don’t speak German don’t understand anything anyway.
In 80 house sits we’ve never had a locked room. I wouldn’t care if the HO did lock a room, it’s just never been our experience. It would not be wise to lock a bedroom with an ensuite though, as we’ve had two pipe bursting under the sink episodes. If these rooms were locked it would have been more of a disaster than it already was.
Hi … this thread on (originally on the topic of tips), has morphed into a new discussion, so I’ve given it a place of it’s own especially as it’s a topic I haven’t seen on the forum elsewhere. Thanks all.
Yes, we decided a while back to lock our office door. That way no one attempts to use the computer, go through papers, and also we leave some musical instruments in there. Funnily enough, we had a cat/house sitter who went through some of our cupboards and rearranged our clothes, rearranged some of our garden furniture and plants…which I thought a bit much, although a couple of things actually looked better!!
I have had two sits with locked rooms. I touched on the point earlier, but since it’s been moved to its own post, I’ll give more details.
One was an extremely high ranked government worker who worked from home. The worker had to comply with rigid rules on how records were to be stored. It was explained and accepted. Understood.
The other homeowner had a lock installed on their primary bedroom with ensuite, on the advice of their insurance (in Australia). The insurance advised that they would not be able to make any claim for theft if the person in the home had their consent to be there. They were embarrassed, but followed the advice. We then explained that on a 5-week sit, which it was, we would usually check the plumbing on a weekly basis - flush toilet, run shower a minute - as a basic maintenance measure. We also explained that the bathroom we were to use was above that locked area, which could be an issue if there was a major leak. However, we discussed all elements of the situation, and all went well. Again, communication.
I was not offended that someone chose to do this, in either case. However, I routinely ask homeowners to move anything to an area I will not be using if they have any concerns, or would be heartbroken if something was broken. So far I haven’t damaged anything, but life does happen.
I close off all areas of a home that I don’t need. I explain that to the homeowners before they leave, and check to assure that the pet will be fine with that. I also explain that I then do not clean those same rooms, so they may be dusty, depending on the length of their time away. I do this because I probably care more about not going into their private areas than they do. However, I also explain that as soon as they leave, I open every kitchen cupboard and drawer, so that I know what’s available and where things are kept.
That’s just my approach to respecting a homeowner’s privacy. It’s my comfort level.
An alternative to locking is to put all your valuables in one room and put a camera in it. Then let the sitter know that it’s there.
Or you can buy a large locking file cabinet and put all your impt papers in there.
@mars In most circumstances that would be sufficient. I can’t go into any more detail about the government one. They did explain their position with the government. The list of requirements of that worker was extensive. Our instructions involved any deliveries, anyone purporting to need to come into the home, etc. My husband and I had to sign paperwork. It was not your ordinary home office, and I’ll leave it at that.
we have been housesitting since 2008. To be honest, we close off any parts of the home we don’'t expect to go into and that the pets don’t have regular access to. We have a very small footprint. But I am not comfortable with locked rooms precisely for some of the reasons already mentioned. Burst pipes, roof leaks in heavy tropical rains, electrical faults, internet failure. We like to monitor bathrooms/ laundry rooms for mustiness and flush and open taps on a regular basis and that is difficult to do if there is no access.
I am both a homeowner and a housesitter on THS. As a homeowner, I have several rooms that the sitters don’t need, and I simply close the doors before leaving home. If they choose to go in there to snoop, that’s on them. It’s just storage of things my kids used to use and haven’t decided to take yet. If I’m sitting in a home with some closed doors, I don’t even attempt to open the door and wouldn’t even know if it was locked or not. I like to keep a small footprint as someone else mentioned, so the less rooms I dirty and have to clean, the better.
Same for us !
I think once you have been living on dozens of homes, you are not curious anymore !
And as @long1016 says :
That’s a point we are very often asked by people not practicing house-sitting / home exchange !
I’ve never thought of doing what @Snowbird does :
But that seems to me very reasonable ! I might ask OH if they are fine with it. We did 27 house-sit so far and never went through locked room (as far as we know, we don’t go where we don’t have to so maybe it was locked and we didn’t,'t realized - the only time we did open every single room was to look for a shy cat who happened to be sleeping on a cushion on a chair, underneath the kitchen table !) and already fixed 2 leaking sinks and changed 2 or 3 toilets flushing bits !
Thank you all for your ideas.
Noboby is offended to find a drawer closed, or a cupboard, or a room. I am NOT !
It’s pretty normal owners want to keep their computer or bank /tax/ files away. You can always precise in the home book that some friend of yours has a key for the room closed. Then the plumber will be able to go there in case of flood (if there are pipes…)
As a home owner we wouldn’t lock any rooms because we want our cat to have access to all the places she is used to when we are at home. As it happens the closet in our bedroom is her “safe space” so she would panic in certain situations if we closed it off. The floor in front of the patio door in the office is her tanning salon because the sun shines there in the afternoon. She really uses the whole appartement so any area closed off would affect her routine. We have a safe for valuables and a locked file cabinet for personal papers. I think there is trust inherent in using a service like THS and so we trust our sitters.
I think the clue is in the name TRUSTED house sitters…… Our passports etc are kept in a locked file box permanently, apart from that we don’t lock anything and my filing cabinet with all my important papers is actually in the room the sitters use…… nowhere else to put it! Having said that I use my gut when booking sitters and I trust them…