Help with rating an negative experience with a sitter

Hi I’m new to the forum but would like your advice.
We have just had a young couple sit for us. We thought it would be good for them to be given an opportunity to experience an house sit in another country.
We were concerned about the lack of communication before the sit and mentioned this to them asking if there was better ways than the THS site eg. WhatsApp FB messenger etc
This should have been the first red flag. The main reason we agreed to them house sitting was our original sitters ( booked over 3 months in advance) had a family tragedy and had to pull out. So we were quite desperate as time was running out.

Anyway communication wasn’t good before or during the sit. Trying several methods. Hours between replying to texts or voice messages (although I did try to address this before and during)

We had written a helpful booklet with advice & information regarding emergency numbers/feeding the animals / likes/dislikes of them /washing machine/watering and all things associated to the quirkiness of living in the back of beyond - electricity going off in high winds etc but they were reluctant to read it. They arrived the day before we left, so we had ample time to show them around, to say what was expected -I’m
not sure they took it in, maybe it overwhelmed them but as I said everything was written down.
On our return it seemed that things had not been carried out to our expectations - not that we have high expectations but it feels as if the house was not a high priority

On our arrival home the kitchen had just been left as if they had just eaten, with food waste, on the hob and counter tops and floor.
They knew we were coming home in fact our flight was delayed by 2 hours but they had gone to bed leaving it… Dog hair very visible on the floors etc -( sorry I sound like a really nag but if you knew someone was due home that your were looking after the house for them wouldn’t you go above and beyond - or maybe not !)

The other major thing that really got to us was they thought it was an all inclusive. They hadn’t been in our house long before they were going through the fridge/freezer and pantry looking at the food. We explained that we expected them to provide their own food but if they needed they could help themselves but replace items during the stay. We also explained that we would be leaving the perishables in the fridge & fruit bowl for them if they wanted them. Also condiment sauces etc all the normal to help themselves to. We took them to a large supermarket so they could buy provisions, although didn’t buy much, and provided meals before we departed and a meal before they departed.
We came home to our pantry depleted and not replaced.

There are other things that we have since become aware of but too many to mention.

So my question is how do I rate them?
The previous sitter we had I gave a 5 star to as they went above and beyond and the house was immaculate.
Before leaving these sitters only cleaned the bedroom and hoovered the bathroom but did no cleaning in the other areas of the house eg kitchen, lounge, fly free which they used which I had to clean, thoroughly the morning of their departure. I’m not sure they would have had time as they didn’t get up until 10.30 and left at 12.30.

They have references and previous local sits and have 5 stars ratings from all of them but I wouldn’t recommend them to sit for anybody.

We understand that didn’t own their own house - but general upkeep and cleanliness of somebody’s house should have been high in their priorities - or are we wrong ?

On the positive side all cats and dogs looked well which I suppose is the main priority.

Any help on ratings or how I should write the review would be most appreciated.

Unfortunately this has made us very wary of using THS again as how can the 5 star rating be correct.

Again sorry for sounding off and sounding so negative. This has definitely been an eye opener !!

(Edited to meet posting terms)

With the benefit of hindsight, was there anything between the lines? Had those previous ones explicitly recommended them? Had they written that the sitters had left the house clean?

You should of course deduct stars for communication and cleanliness and write what you wrote here, but shorter.

Thank you for your reply
Yes the previous reviews stated that houses had been left clean and tidy and been given 5 star ratings
2 reviews and 2 references from people that they had sat for before joining THS.

Welcome @Andifay!
Definitely deduct some stars. There is no excuse for leaving an untidy kitchen and eating someone’s food if it was clearly communicated what was allowed and what wasn’t.

Perhaps just keep it very short saying: ‘based on our previous sit experiences, (name and name) did not meet our expectations in terms of cleanliness and following various points in our welcome guide.’

Then other HO’s can decide for themselves if they want to risk it and you don’t go into details to make it sound petty (not that I think your concerns are petty - but when too detailed, you might come across as a difficult HO to future sitters).


I feel this might be taken as the HW having too high expectations. I personally prefer clear, specific reviews so it’s not a question of perception. If they ate your food and did not replace it in spite of having been told to do so, that’s a fact, no an opinion. If part of the house was not cleaned, that’s another fact and I think other HOs should know. I agree that it would be better not to write a very long, detailed review.
I’m a sitter and I have often been offered to help myself to food and drink but I still have replaced non perishables.

How was the care of the pets? You don’t mention them here @Andifay Rate each category as you see fit. Definitely tell the truth and deduct stars as needed. Sounds as if cleanliness, comms & organised are a 3 star :star: Be factual and honest and unemotional as that reflects on you as being fair not “miffed”. Reviews are now blind so you’ll only see their review once they are both written like Airbnb. This is a new feature which may be why previous HOS were too “nice” about them before……it’s rare for THS sitters to be like this. Maybe add some parameters and additional questions into your next video chat so it doesn’t happen again. Best of luck :crossed_fingers:t3:


Hi @Andifay, I’m glad it seems your pets were looked after well but it’s disheartening your home and communication were not as you expected. I think one point you do need to consider is with your original sitters having to cancel, you admit you were desperate for a sitter and so chose these inexperienced sitters because of this rather than get no sitter. Am I right in this assumption? There are so many new members on THS who perhaps just do not yet understand exactly what their responsibilities are.
Be honest but unemotional in your review and definitely reduce the star ratings on Communication and Cleanliness. Your overall rating should reflect this too. With the blind review system in place now, the only way a sitter can retaliate is by responding underneath the review you give which will appear on their profile and not yours. Don’t lose heart on using THS as there are many, many fine sitters. I think your desperation situation contributed to this in part.


Thank you for answering - this isn’t actually my review - I just wanted to explain how things were so I could have help with leaving a proactive review to try and help the HS improve or know for the future

Thank you @Cuttlefish

“On the positive side all cats and dogs looked well which I suppose is the main priority.”

If only they could talk!!

Don’t you have to input how many stars before you write your review ? (on the mobile app)

I think you should be able to rate each category with the stars for the 5 categories individually and then it will tally them up @Andifay :+1:t3:

That’s absolutely disgraceful behaviour and in truth, you should rate them accordingly, which is they took care of the animals and not your house.

You choose what you want the overall rating to be, then based on how you fill out the substars, the app will make adjustments.

if you give a 5 for pet care but a 1 for everything else and a 1-2 for the overall rating, it should adjust.

Additionally, HO’s read what is written. I would be very candid about exactly what happened…the highs and the lows. It’s so important to be honest in ratings so that people can improve and others know to be aware.

And yes, it sounds like you had several red flags and I can also appreciate the desperation of having to find a last minute sitter (I’ve made the same mistake and it cost me). I would highly recommend having a list of back ups to your backups…local options you can have step in even if just for part of your travel, etc.) so that you don’t have to choose subpar service.

From here, I would re-evaluate your acceptance criteria. I’ve learned how important it is to do things like:

  • Choose HS with a solid review history and a well-done profile…unfortunately this means that I am very wary of newcomers, especially when they haven’t done everything in their power to show that they have thoroughly completed their profile (for instance, our HS profile only has two official TH sits (as we are predominantly HOs), but I was thorough about our experience off the TH app and provide outside references, links to socials and my professional dog training pages)
  • We have a script that we’ve created for our HO/HS interviews to make sure that we’ve covered everything and we send out parts of our welcome guide before doing a video chat so that HS have a chance to say no before either party has invested too much time
  • The moment you feel something is off, listen to your gut.

What kind of questions do you ask in your video call .


BEFORE deciding to video chat with a sitter

  • thoroughly review their profile

if we like their profile

  • send over part of our welcome guide so that if there’s anything in them they don’t like, they can bow out without wasting their time

We then set up a video chat to ask the following and answer their questions:

Disclaimer (which we also share): the following questions are being asked because of previous experiences we have had in the past with sitters that have made us uncomfortable, raised concern, or resulted in the creation of an unsafe environment for our dog, so we want to make sure we do our due diligence up front and do our best to make sure we’re on the same page as prospective sitters.

  1. Introductions
  • Tour of home, dog, meet us, meet you, know who all may be visiting, etc.
  • Discuss Logistics of our sits…we do an orientation at the start and allow time for a supply run with our sitters if they’d like, and then we like to allow for an overlap at the end if we are returning from someplace far just in case there’s an issue with our flight.

Experience with our dog type

  • experience with this breed-type
  • handled reactive dogs before
  • comfortable with our gear and handling ( why? we’ve had sitters in the past get to us and then flat out refuse to walk our dog in a slip lead, which is what he is the most used to. They also didn’t listen to guidance on how to do things like walk or communicate with him…our dog didn’t like that sitter and we ended up not leaving our dog with that sitter)
  1. Handler ableness
  • basically are you in good enough health/fitness to handle our dog ( why? he’s not a large/heavy dog but he’s active/fast/strong and we’ve had sitters in the past that accepted our sit, then found out they were recovering from a broken wrist and losing their vision…that information was not disclosed beforehand)
  1. Communication
  • any issues with providing regular (almost daily) updates and responding to messages in a timely manner? (why? this has been an issue for us with past sitters, so we ask explicitly)
  1. Lifestyle
  • is no outside guests a problem/is there anyone else that would be staying or visiting while you’re caring for our dog and home?
  • How long would our dog be left alone? you cool with a max alone time of 5 hours?
  • are you cool to clean or do you prefer a cleaner be arranged? (why? we’ve had sitters in the past that were lovely with our dog but not good housekeepers so if they prefer to pay for a cleaner, we can set that up for them)
  1. Any questions that they may have for us

  2. Share what next steps will look like

  • contact them within 24-36 hours to confirm and ask if they have any other sits they need to respond to

AFTER we have confirmed the sit with the sitter,

  • any foods or items that you want to have removed from the house? for instance, meat in the fridge or certain smells or allergies we can help to accommodate for
  • finalise travel dates

Just to clarify, our dog is an excellent listener and very well trained. This is him with a local sitter we employ from time to time. (their first sit together) We just like to make sure we set everyone up for success because when everyone is on the same page, you will get nothing but the best from our boy.

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When reviewing, it now requires the owner to put the overall rating first before completing the comment and other 5 categories which is different to what it used to be where the overall star rating was determined by the system, depending on the 5 category ratings. We are now seeing discrepancies where an owner gives, for example, 3 stars overall, but all five categories were given 5 stars! Hopefully this kind of error can be corrected by owners contacting MS to have it adjusted if the sitter has brought it to their attention.


That’s great . So thorough , thanks for sending across .

@Andifay PLEASE Include the facts in your review. Don’t have it as long as your post here but please include the facts about the food issue, didn’t clean, and ignored your directions.

Yes, this will help them learn what’s important when sitting. It will also help future homeowners who might consider them.


Please be honest in the review. The positive was your pets were well cared for, the negatives however are many. You can rate the pet care as 5 stars and use the other categories to down rate them as appropriate. If you would not use them again, rate them a 1 star.

Start by mentioning how well they did with pet care. Then in the next paragraph, explain why you can’t recommend them(communication issues, cleanliness and eating your items).

This could be a learning experience for those sitters and hopefully they will take your review and learn from it.

The first sitters we ever used (BTW via a different site) sound exactly like these two. Actually, we got the distinct impression the wife was doing her best but the husband clearly thought the arrangement was all about what he got out of it, not a fair exchange.
Note that under the old rating system, many members were a bit nervous about leaving any kind of negative review for fear they’d get a “revenge” review back.
Now that the reviews are supposedly “blind” might be a more honest system?
Our 1st sitters DID take GOOD care of our animals and that was our No. 1 priority. The house was occupied while we were gone so we had peace of mind. And nothing was missing or broken (well except for the lawn mower power cord, easily fixed with duct tape.)
As for food stocks: we encouraged them to help themselves to what they wanted: but I don’t have a huge freezer full of stuff or bursting shelves. As invited to do, they used some stuff but reasonably.
That said, we wrote asking for updates every 3rd day and I think in 25 days we got only two responses. Lack of communication certainly made us very uneasy.
They asked if they could have family over for meals, we had no problem with that and didn’t see anything to indicate it was an issue - but we met HO whose young sitters hosted parties and drank dozens of their wine bottles! So go with your gut on that issue.
We’d leant them our vehicle for 25 days with the simple request they pick us up from the light rail station 15 min drive from our home after a nine hour flight. After multiple attempts to reach him (when we landed, when we got our luggage, when we got on the light rail, when we reached our stop) the husband finally turned up 45 minutes late, “Sorry I had some errands to run.”
Out of 6 bedrooms to choose from - they used our master suite but hadn’t washed the sheets or tidied the bathroom - and the kitchen was a mess.
In retrospect I should have mentioned those things in my review of them. The next HO to use them wrote to me with many of the same issues AND they damaged her car, taking off before she returned. She wanted to know if they’d really been as good for me as my review implied. (I only wrote about what was good!)
I felt guilty for not having given a more complete review.
That ALL said - again - my pets were clearly happy, the house was fine if not tidy and those were our main concerns, the biggest reasons we used sitters.
I was a little annoyed at their messiness but on balance? It was a good situation for us.
And now as sitters? we are VERY conscious of being the sitters we would have appreciated!
I would say tread lightly, remembering the value of what you received in pet care and peace of mind - but certainly give indications about whatever you wish you’d known when considering them.