Combining couchsurfing with housesitting

By definition, “couchsurfing” means staying for free in a home owner’s home while the home owner is there, too. As I have just mentioned in my reply to another post, I don’t like the THS policy which states that “there strictly can be no third parties in the house while the sitter is there” at all.
The reason is that it can potentially lead to a multitude of problems, if the key handover does not happen in person or happens in a big rush. From my experience, almost all home owners want to meet and release the sitter in person, while the sitters want to arrive and leave during reasonable daylight hours, and the hosts’ early departures/late-night returns make this impracticable with the current rule.
My solution to this dilemma: When I arrive - at the home owner’s explicit request - a day earlier or stay a night longer after their return, I consider those nights as “couchsurfing” and being a guest of the family- which is a private agreement independent from my assignment via THS - and I also start to perform my agreed duties only in the minute the home owner leaves the house.
I think this is a good way to stay safe on the legal side and at the same time enjoy all the benefits of a personal get-to-know-each-other and safe, relaxed handovers. Do you agree?

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I think you misunderstand the rule Romana.

The third party rule applies to someone other than yourself and the petowner.

A sitter staying over a night while the owner was there is very common in my experience.

We have arrived early and stayed late during some of our sits, in fact most owners have asked us to come a day early!

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Romana
I’ve regularly arrived a day or sometimes even earlier before a sit and stayed while the HO is around. On a recent sit outside of London, the HOs were kind to host me for 2 nights before their departure because of my flight schedule (and some uncertainty about COVID testing) and I stayed a night after their early evening return, cooked dinner for us all on their return. The dog was a bit confused on that last night and checked out the HO’s bedroom, their son’s bedroom, and my bedroom trying to decide where to spend the night.
Tom

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Yes, as others have said, it is perfectly acceptable to spend a night before or after the sit with the home hosts. What is not allowed is for anyone else other than the home hosts to stay whilst you are there.
For example I have seen instances where sitters are expected to share the home with lodgers or adult children of the home hosts - this is what is not allowed.

Thank you all for your replies. Yes, I have indeed misunderstood the rule, particularly the definition of the “third” person. So the sitter is the first party and the home and pet owner is the second party. They can share the house for a few nights. That is now clear to me.

However, the line is really hard to draw. Obviously, the whole family of the home owner must be allowed to stay which may include young as well as adult children or other relatives or friends or even lodgers who normally live in the same household with them. And they ALL must leave the house when the MAIN home and pet owner person leaves. Have I understood it correctly now?

Yes @Romana you have now understood it correctly.