Damages in the house

Newbie here and just had my first sitter.

Despite their excellent care of my cats, I can’t say the same about my house.

Normally we do home exchanges but due to the length of our trip, we chose to look for a sitter.

Different people do things differently, but when I use the house, I keep is as it is, and never move anything, and if something breaks, even by accident, I pay for it. In my opinion, if I want a fully available house, I would use either booking.com or Airbnb, but exchanging houses is different since we are using people’s homes. I feel honored when they leave their stuff around, as a signal of trust and never ever touch them.

Apparently the door entrance key broke accidentally, but that implies I need to change the lock, and they don’t even offer to pay. Because they said there wasn’t enough space for their stuff, all my stuff are in different places like drawers or under the desk, and some furniture is more damaged than before (as a cat owner, I’m used to furniture damage), but this is in really bad shape.

Is this something that should be expected in THS? Has that ever happened to anyone? As home owners, are we expected to leave a perfectly available house and take out all our stuff?

Hi @canada_happy, sorry to hear about the damage to your home. I’m also a homeowner here.

Sitters do expect some closet/storage space for their things. I think they should have asked or told you about it instead of moving your things, but in the future, I highly suggest you prepare some room for their personal belongings. Empty some drawers, and leave some closet space and hangers.

If my pet did the damage, I wouldn’t put that against the sitter. The only thing I could do in that regard was warn my sitters about my dog chewing on something and to keep an eye out. For instance, one of the things I highlight in my welcome guide in the pet and house rules is to keep my plants elevated because my dog will try to play with dirt or chew on the leaves. Perhaps in your welcome guide, you can mention these things so your future sitters know what to watch out for.

Hopefully this helps and you have more positive experience in the future!

Edit: sorry I missed about the damage lock. I think you can contact THS member services about this. Was the lock already bad shape?

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Why is that the implication? Is the other half of the key stuck in the lock?

Normally it would just cost a few dollars to replace a key.

There was a thread on the forum by a sitter who had tremendous difficulty to enter the home because the lock did not work well. With a barking dog at their feet.


I usually do home exchange in other platform, and as usual I left a few drawers and closet space, but my belongings were here, which is not like an Airbnb perfectly empty.
I left few things over my desk, is that not ok? every place I stayed before people leave their belongings, and I usually do long stays and that doesn’t bother me, but again I’m new to this community.
Regarding to the furniture damage that was not done by mi cats, I seriously doubt it. It looks like lack of care during usage.
When I stay at a home exchange I never expect the full house to be empty for me.

The other half is stuck inside and there is no way to take it out.

I usually empty a big drawer or two to give space for a sitter to put their clothes in, and the guest bedroom closet is empty, mainly with lots of hangers to hang their things.

I don’t think anybody here expects your entire closet or bedroom cabinets to be empty. It all depends on how long their stay is. I’m sure sitters here can chime in on that, though.

As for your desk, unless they had their own preferred monitors/dock to work with, I don’t know why they would do that. What I have in my workspace usually works for Mac and PC users because I also use both for work. I tell them they can move my laptops or keyboards away if needed. In my experience, I’ve seen a couple of things moved out of place there, but it doesn’t bother me. It’s usually nothing major.

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Hello @canada_happy , sorry to read about your less than wonderful experience. It would have been nice if these people had offered to pay for the lock but even nicer if you refused to take their money especially if the lock had been problematic to begin with. Nothing you describe is the norm, most sits go very well. You’ll learn as you go along and your next one will be much better.

Was this a long sit? If not, they should not have moved your clothes and should have made do. Do you have an extra room they could have used to open their suitcases and live out of them? If it was a long sit, it would have been nice if they’d consulted you first. As others have said, in the future it would be good to leave some closet and/or drawer space for your sitters – not imperative, but considerate. At the very least, these sitters should have taken a picture of the way things were before they moved them and returned them to their original places.

And they should have told you about any damage they had caused, this was bad form. You are not alone. I’m sure many other pet owners could trade tales with you. But more often there are successful sits where your home and pets are cared for perfectly and you establish a real connection with your sitters.

Now that you’ve found the forum (and welcome!), you can search by clicking on the spyglass icon and entering words or questions. You’ll find suggestions for choosing a good sitter, for example, someone who has many exceptional reviews – in addition to their reviews, read the feedback sitters have left for the pet/home owners. There is a lot to know and much of it has been discussed here, so read away!

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Thanks, I think I’ll maybe give it another try, but be clearer on my profile and interviews to set expectations properly.
This experience was really bad, and is costing me money and time to repair everything to be able to exchange my house again.

and no, the lock was ok

Thanks @mars … I’m really sad today. Honestly I’m shocked, I was not expecting to spend the day looking for my desk stuff in drawers or the floor.
I’ve been doing home exchange for 3 years and I was so excited when I discovered this platform.
It was indeed a long sit (3 months), but leaving downtown means my house is tiny. I can’t offer more than 2 drawers and half of my closet. I’m doing some updates in my profile and reading the forum to evaluate if I want to try again.
Thanks for taking the time to reply :slight_smile:

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Then the sitters are living there. Yes, then I might also be moving stuff out of the way.

Which I think you should have done before you left.


@canada_happy , there are plenty of pet owners who live in small places in downtown locations and things work perfectly. Such a shame your first experience was not good. When things go right, THS is awesome.

If you add your listing to your forum profile, we can give you tips and feedback to help you perfect it so you’ll attract the right type of sitter. These are the instructions: How to add your listing or profile to your forum profile

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That’s not good. I’m so sorry you’ve had a bad first-time experience with THS, and I would be upset about this damage, too. Even if it’s not an expensive thing to fix, it is still an unexpected expense. Living in downtown too, you worry about the safety of your home.
I’ve had a couple of unpleasant experiences but no significant damage, just my dog was neglected. Most of my experiences have been very positive though, and I agree that you’ll just have to make your expectations clear with future sitters. As @mars suggested, there are tons of advise you can find on helping you find the right sitters on the forum. It’s been super helpful for me and other HO’s.


Please don’t leave all your stuff lying around that is not an ‘honour’ for anyone.

People are actually having to live in your home how do you expect them not to have to move anything. It’s just completely unrealistic. Why leave your desk covered with stuff? They are going to need to use the desk.

2 drawers and half a wardrobe is not reasonable for anyone to live for 3 months. Why didn’t you move your stuff to make it more reasonable for someone to live - that way they wouldn’t have had to touch your stuff.

Also yes it’s your responsibility regarding the key, it’s your house ultimately. The lock was likely old and damaged from previous use I doubt it was brand new the day the sitter moved in.

How would the sitter have caused so much damage to the sofa? Surely it was the cats? You do realise animals can behave differently when owners are not there maybe they scratched it more.

Edited in line with forum guidelines

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Hi @canada_happy - sorry it’s not as you hoped at home. A few thoughts would be. Talk to your sitter, explain how you feel, see what they say. Are they experienced? Did they raise any of this whilst you were away? Talk to THS support, what is their advice? Sitters do need space for their stuff, especially for a 3 month sit. Keys do break, maybe you can go halves with the sitter or claim on insurance if it’s a big thing. Keys vary so much in cost depending on your home country (Switzerland is beyond painful!!) once you’ve talked to the sitter then write a fair, factual and non emotional review of the sit and move onto the next one with a few lessons learned. If the cats are well and were cared for wonderfully, then ultimately, that’s the most important thing. Best of luck.

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I’ve not done long sits, but I have sublet multiple places for three months at a time after accepting a job in a new state. I picked different neighborhoods to get acquainted with, before buying a place.

The homeowners had made room for me to put things away, even though they’d left nearly all their belongings. I used all their dishware and such, because all I brought were my laptops and clothes.

If the key had broken, I would’ve expected them to pay, because that doesn’t typically happen under normal use. As a homeowner, certain things are your responsibility as part of ownership — I was just subletting and not doing anything odd living wise.

I take care with people’s homes and belongings. That included covering pieces of furniture that seemed more susceptible to stains, spills or such.

Before I turned each sublet back over, I restored everything to normal placement and cleaned everything, so things were as good as I’d found them. None of the sublets was eventful.

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yes it’s your responsibility regarding the key, it’s your house ultimately.

As a sitter, I don’t think it’s my responsibility replace something like a lock assembly if it broke. On the contrary, I’d be annoyed that the HO had a lock that was in a condition that it became unusable.

Do you have any reason to believe that the sitter was negligent and somehow abused the lock, causing the key to break? Or evidence?

To address the other point about touching you things, yes if it was a 3-month sit, I would be moving some stuff around too. I’d think that if you didn’t want something touched you would have moved it, or told me why it shouldn’t be moved. (Tho… I’d have taken a photo and put things back as best I could.)


Thanks for your reply and I appreciate your perspective.
My desk was not covered, but there were few things in the corner.
And the sofa damage is 300% the cats, other furniture doesn’t look like cats scratches.

I appreciate everyone’s response to my post. I can see a lot of diversity in opinions here related to our role (sitter, owner, both). While some owners agree with me, most sitters disagree.

Since I come from the home exchange community, I assumed the home sitting community would be similar. Today’s lesson: They are different. To be honest, now I realize it’s obvious, but I overlooked it.

I can fully empathize with the sitters’ expectations to have plenty of proper space while staying at someone else’s house to take care of their pets, with expecting the owner to pay for any accident. At the end of the day, some people work as home - pet sitters. I paid several times for pet sitters, and it is very respectable and important work.

However, the perspective is different when we host and share our house. Sure, I would love to provide a big room with lots of space, but this is not my reality. I don’t even have that space for myself. Living in a tiny place downtown is definitely not a problem for me at home, nor when I choose a similar place in another city. I don’t care about sharing a desk with someone else’s belongings, even keeping my clothes in my luggage during the trip (I do slow travel and stay for months at a time) or having a small refrigerator space. As much as this is clear for home exchanges, since we’re all in the same boat, it isn’t for sitters whose homes aren’t exchanged. I should clarify that in my profile and in the agreement calls.

In retrospect, I realize that I made a mistake by not clarifying expectations, resulting in a frustrating experience for both parties. Only after I arrived at my house and complained about the damages, I found out that the sitter had a bad and “disgusting” experience.

I learned so much from this. I need to take time now to fix the damages in my house, and unfortunately that will take me out of traveling and exchanges.

To share my learnings in one sentence: please clarify your expectations about required / offered space in every area of the house, furniture care expectations and liability - responsibility in case of accidents.

In spite of the fact that we are all different, and this is a beautiful thing, it has left a bitter taste in the mouth to find out that people didn’t enjoy their time at my place.


I’m sorry this was not a good experience for you. Sounds like there was not great communication during the actual sit about the sitter’s questions and needs, and I’m sure coming home to unexpected damage (the lock) made the things that might otherwise be not that big of a deal seem worse.

I live in a small apartment in a central city location, so I know how it is when space is tight. My prior sits have been for a month each - I don’t completely empty my closet, but I do put a lot of my own clothes in suitcases (that are not going on the trip with me) to free up space for my sitter.

My prior and one upcoming sitter are remote workers, so I make sure that my desk is completely clear and ready for them to use. Even for my holiday sitter, who is not working remotely, I will clear that space, just in case they need it.

This means effort on my part, but it’s not 100% for the sitter - I also don’t want my things mingled in with theirs, don’t want my stuff shoved into a corner or misplaced, and I especially don’t want my work items rearranged. It’s in my own interest to sort all this on my end before the sitter arrives.

I do hope you give it another try and have a great experience next time.

I guess there’s a balance - I’m not leaving the place as if it’s a hotel or an airbnb, and any sitter who expects that isn’t going to choose my sit. OTOH, someone is going to live here for a time and I want them to feel as comfortable as possible in someone else’s home.