Blind hand-off: when sitter leaves before HO arrives

I see a lot about pre-sit tours and information transactions, but not much about pre-departure with no interaction with the HO.

The idea that I have no idea who is going in there after I leave, or if, heaven forbid, the pets damaged anything between my departure and the HO arrival, makes me anxious.

If it’s a sit where I know I have to leave before the HO arrives, I take photos of everything to show that I left it clean and in order. (I hold a 2nd phone in the frame with date/time showing, but that’s just me)

I also record a short video of myself saying goodbye to the pets, closing the door, locking it, and showing that it’s locked.

I’ve never had to show those pix/videos to anyone, and I delete them after a couple of weeks, but it’s an easy way to prove that I did clean and lock up if there was ever an issue.

Do any of you have any other “insurance” type stuff you do before you go when there’s no in-person handoff?


Interesting ideas. I’ve done many closings when I’ve not seen the HOs. The longest was about 4 hours between my departure and the planned return. And I’ve also about 6 times, parked the HOs car at the airport, taken a picture of the parking spot location, hidden the keys or locked them in the car, and flown off. Never have had any problems.
I understand the precautions you are taking, but have never thought of doing anything like that.
I should note that I’ve done multiple sits where I never met the HO. The first time seemed strange, walking in on a pair of dogs and a trio of cats (who were separated). The dogs were asleep on the couch - they woke when I walked in, looked at me, then went back to sleep.


We have done a few sits where the HO leaves before we arrive (either a repeat sit or walkthrough happened a few days before) and often leave before the HOs return. Though it’s nice to see the HOs, we don’t want to be in their space at all when they get home from traveling, so skedaddle as quickly as possible. We’ve never been concerned about what might happen in the home in a few hours between our departure and their arrival. Interesting thought but I don’t think I’ll add it to my list of things to worry about!


I’ve had experience going in and out of homes that aren’t mine “unattended” because of my work as a chef, doing in-home fine dining. The clients have dinner and then go out afterwards, leaving me to clean the kitchen. I just go when I’m done.

One time, the people who hired me had rented an Airbnb, and accused me of leaving the house unlocked and leaving without cleaning. Totally untrue, of course, but I had no way to prove it. Once bitten, twice shy.


Interesting idea. I’ve never really thought that about that scenario but I think there’s no harm in doing so. The few minutes it takes to do, could be worth it some time.

(Since most phone pictures are marked with date, time, and even location if you have it turned on, you probably don’t really need to worry about the 2nd phone?)

One thing I do upon arrival is take photographs of any obvious damage in the house like a bad scratch on the table or something. It’s almost more for my sake than proof that it was there when we arrived though. I hate noticing things like that later on in the sit and wondering if we had done it without even noticing.

I also take pictures of where things are sitting in the kitchen etc so I can make sure everything is returned to its proper place when we leave.


Taking a video is a good idea especially if you are handing the home off to another sitter, although this is a situation best avoided. It’s just added insurance and certainly can’t hurt. I usually just text the HO to let them know when I am driving away, often this is shortly (15 min to an hour) before they are due to arrive home. Like @Kelownagurl I take before pictures of rooms if I will be moving knick knacks so I can put them back correctly before I leave. Before cameras had a date stamp and when print newspapers were more prevalent, to prove that something happened on a particular date, we would hold the newspaper with its date visible in the picture.


"Since most phone pictures are marked with date, time, and even location " These things can be modified.

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You’re right, good point.

Most of my sits are owner free departures, and many owner free arrivals although I have never handed over to another sitter, I have relieved a in situ sitter.

All arrangements are mutually agreed of course and I give every owner the choice, to be or not to be. Much depends on their return schedule but I have developed my own full proof way of managing these situations (full proof in as much as it works every time) although I’ve never taken any your steps @MissChef

Managing sits is down to the individual how it works for you and everyone involved …

There are great tips throughout the forum it really is worth exploring the conversations, after all we never stop learning.

What are other member’s top tips for exiting a sit?

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That sounds like those hostage situations in old movies, they would record a video with someone holding a newspaper making demands for ransom.


That’s what I’m asking! :slight_smile:

I recently had a situation where the homeowners were supposed to arrive on a certain date, but they could not come home on time… They had Covid and would not be permitted to fly! I offered to stay, but they arranged for someone else to take over. As these were cats, the replacement house sitters were not coming until the following day after I left. I could not be sure what would transpire between my departure and the next sitter’s arrival, I had no idea who those sitters were, or what agency they came through, or even if it was a personal friend or family member. CYA felt like a practical measure.


My other half is a journalist with a private investigator’s license, among other things.

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I will not start a sit if the HOs are planning to leave before we arrive, nor leave before they return. Travelling is not an exact science time wise and i need to be sure that the animals are covered should there be delays or problems.
My Dad was killed in a car accident en route to meeting me for Sunday lunch. Sadly, you never know what is around the corner sometimes.


Miss Chef, your suggestions are really great but I still would prefer to meet the owners at the start and end of the sit


I do too! But it’s really up to them, I only insist if they have large dogs.

I’m so sorry to hear about your dad, that is something that would definitely color my feelings and it’s awful that happened.

For the past several sits, there’s always been something extraordinary. Fortunately I have not had my schedule booked so tightly that I couldn’t show up a day earlier stay a day late. One was a woman who just forgot what day Thanksgiving fell on, and kept telling me one date, even though the calendar said another. Luckily we got that worked out! One was the no-fly COVID thing I mentioned above, another was a winter snow storm where all the flights were canceled, but I let the homeowner know in advance that I was able to stay at extra day. It was sunny and warm where she was so she had no idea! She changed their flights to come home a day early. Luckily, because it would have been delayed for at least 2 days! Another one (last week!) a family got a flat tire driving a rental car home. It could have been anything from 2 to 24 hours delay, but I was able to stay if they needed it. Another one, The landlord was a total piece of …work… :roll_eyes: and said that he would be coming in and out of the house at his discretion to do maintenance, and that I was to leave between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. every day. This was during the coldest cold snap Nashville has seen in a while, and I had nowhere to go all day! (Yes, that’s not allowed, of course, and support knew about it as it was happening.) The homeowner ended up putting me and her dog up at an Airbnb for the rest of her vacation. :neutral_face:

It’s all about flexibility. At least in my case, that’s one of the things I can offer to the homeowners! I’m not relying on this to have a roof over my head, I do it because I love pets and I enjoy the change of scenery. It makes me feel good to know that I’m caring for people’s pets the way that I have cared for my own.

Since mine were both pitbulls, It was hard to find sitters for them. After boarding at the vet, once one had fleas (eventually of course the other one had fleas :rage:) and the other time one was so stressed out she was visibly skinnier than when we left her. That’s when we discovered Rover… I never heard of TH at the time.

I have had a weird job for the past 20 years: Being a freelance chef has put me in my clients homes or vacation rentals. They tell me the access codes or tell me where the keys are hidden, and I go to work. I’m alone upon arrival AND upon departure, so that part is not new to me. With pets involved, wondering if the person is going to be home when they say so does give me a little bit of anxiety. Ultimately it is up to the homeowner. If they’re okay with a blind handoff at departure, I guess am too… But you can be sure I’m going to cover my :peach: with a few photos and a goodbye video.


I think it’s probably always a good idea to discuss what the HO’s back up plan is if they can’t get home in time for some reason, especially if you have another sit booked right after and know you can’t stay.

We always arrive in the country at least three days before a sit starts to allow to travel time and to get over jet lag, but also, in the off chance that our flight is cancelled or delayed. We also always give at least one night and preferably two after our last sit, before we fly home and we try to leave at least one night between sits.

Regardless, you’ve made me realize that it would be a good conversation to have. Usually people have a friend or family member nearby who can probably help out in those kinds of situations but it’s better to have it organized before they leave.


Yeah went to inspect today before a sit and as lovely as the HO’s are, the place is filled with stuff that I worry about this sort of thing too.

I definitely believe in your idea of video of yourself saying good bye to the pets and locking the door after closing it. I took photos of my kids with the pets at the last sit before we left at 10am.


Thanks MissChef. It has made me very aware of how things can change. I have a roof over my head too, so always allow extra time between sits for ‘changes’.

I couldn’t leave before they return, it would stress me if i didn’t know they were back safely and happy with everything. What you say makes perfect sense, but it would make me very anxious.