Home owner vs Home sitter imbalance - why aren't we held up to the same standard?

I’d like to start off by saying I appreciate every improvement made to the search, profiles and the app in the past 6 months , but the application and review process need a big rehaul.

I can’t escape the feeling that home owners are in a more privileged position.

I was recently leaving a testimonial for a home/pet owner who just joined TH, and at the same time was leaving a review for a sit I completed.

Why do sitters get to be rated on different criteria to the home owners?

To leave a review for a sitter you need to rate them on 5 different criteria + text comment.

For a home owner, it’s just a single 1-5 stars rating + text comment!

This year, so far, I had: dirty homes, untrained dogs, disorganised owners who expected me to leave a day early because they had an Airbnb guest coming, owners in the countryside who got too busy to pick me up from the station, HO who demanded I stay another night for a better ‘handover’, and a neurotic, micro-managing owner with pages and pages long instructions on the cat and house care that they only sent a week before the sit, but by then it was too late to cancel.

But I couldn’t rate them on that criteria.

For my previous sit, home owner didn’t leave a review until I left mine and sent them a review request few days later. And because I need more reviews, I decided to leave the review first and not mention the slightly unpleasant stuff.

I didn’t mention any problems because a sit has to be really bad for me to leave a clearly negative comment.

I still have under 10 reviews on here and wanted to make sure I get a good review.

As if the members are not already worried about ‘revenge’ reviews if they leave less than stellar, but honest, review, because the review system currently shows reviews of the person who left it first.

Inevitably, the parties will start playing the ‘let’s see what they say first’ game, and you won’t get 100% honest reviews.

You could say ‘You definitely SHOULD leave an honest comment!’ but you can’t deny the ‘revenge review’ possibility and that HOs would judge you if you had less than 5 star reviews. (I’ve seen plenty of discussion online whereby HO won’t accept anyone with less than 10 five-star reviews and a DBS check)

How about making the process more fair?

My suggestions:

  1. Add the same/role-appropriate rating system for both parties
    (criteria suggestions for HOs: pre-sit communication and information; home, pets & duties as described; supportive and available during the sit; condition of the home as described; comfort* during the stay etc).

  2. Reviews are hidden until both parties leave them.

  3. If one party doesn’t leave a review for another, it will automatically give the other party a 5 star/positive review on their profile
    (it’s not one party’s fault the other didn’t care or forgot, and we all know how much reviews mean to sitters, as often owners won’t give newbies a chance)

  4. Remove the star rating from the profile and anonymise reviews: simply calculate the rating in percentages.
    (“85% of members would recommend this sit(ter)” or every individual criteria “80% rated X’s communication as positive”, "90% rated (their home) as tidy and clean etc.). You can show text reviews anonymised or keywords as a word cloud).

From my experience, it seems like HOs need to be nagged to leave a review?

If home owners are getting a free pet and home sitter, and sometimes even a gardener and a maintenence person, least they could do is leave a review.

After having to write a cover letter to apply, doing a video interview, providing identity verification and references, doing a sit…and then not to even get a review?

Also, I have so many owners who don’t bother to even press the button go decline my application, let alone send a message.

  1. Can we please add responsiveness percentage, too? (on both ends to be fair)

If you’re advertising for a sitter, and at the moment you can only get up to 5 applications, is it that hard to click ‘Decline’ button?

You might argue that Sitters get free accommodation in exchange, and HOs leave their home/pet in Sitters hands so it requires more trust, and that there are more sitters than homes so sitters need HOs more. But HO could easily pay for a professional local sitter/boarding house but they don’t.

So why don’t we expect the same standard from them, too?

Most of the homes I’ve sat weren’t some high tech, luxury homes with valuables but I treated them that way anyway and provided as many reassurances as possible.

Home owner has never provided me with a copy of their passport or a DBS check.

I’d also like to know if the owners have clear criminal record, have they had satisfied sitters, if their homes are clean, how supported I’ll feel while there?

This is HS profile


HO profile

Maybe I missed it, but I can’t see where I can find the same information?

I had to start recording the state of the homes as soon as I arrive because

a) I want to know where things were to make sure the place is left as I found it
b) to prove to owners what the ‘found’ state was in case they have a complaint.

However, if I leave the place as dirty as I found it, and owner thinks I left it thar way and leaves a negative rating, would TH intervene?

Another thing I had to start doing is asking for all the information in the written form, in advance. Whether it’s a Welcome Guide or my own form that I send out to them, it doesn’t matter, I need to know as much as possible in advance, preferably before I accept the sit and unfortunately, not all information gets mentioned during a video call or in the messages.

I’ve had ‘occasionally watering the plants’ meaning tending to the garden and the greenhouse, too, or ‘pet has a tracker so you’ll know where it is at all times’ actually mean the owners will watch the tracker from another country and send you messages at midnight to go and investigate why is their pet spending so much time in that X area?
And a dog who ‘loves being around people’ meaning the dog is not socialised or trained and can’t be left alone at all.

All of the examples above clearly show power imbalance, require more honest communication and feedback, and that can’t be achieved if people don’t feel comfortable leaving an honest review and get treated equally. This website is supposed to serve mutual benefit.

*by comfort, it can mean how relaxed, ‘at home’ they felt, or available amenities, or literal comfort. I spent 2 months on a house sit where I slept on some kind of camping bed, when there was a real bed in other room that was off limits


Hi Angela,

Why did you merge my post with an older and inactive post (that also doesn’t have a response from TH yet)?

I really don’t appreciate this kind of manipulation of our posts and practically burying an issue.

My post contains multiple points - it’s not just about review process.


That is the only sign that THS is even reading this: they moved it.

There is never an answer.

And they won’t actually do anything. (My guess is that they cannot change the code.)


It tok me messaging a forum admin to get it approved at all! It was pending.

And I’m annoyed by the manipulation of people’s posts. If it’s an open forum, let people post - don’t gatekeep and pick and choose what can be posted. If it’s relevant to the TH, it belongs here.

And don’t merge people’s posts, especially with older or inactive posts! Unless the content is word-for-word 80-90% same. My post contains multiple points and screenshots. It’s not just about review process!


Hi @TomorrowTamara thank you for the time you’ve taken to create this post and for your messaging, we’ve positioned appropriately


@TomorrowTamara Lots of great points! Thank you for this! Imagine what would happen if you told an Owner (after being accepted for a Sit) that you plan to rate them on each of these criteria! You can write your Feedback exactly as you wish, with numbered criteria and stars for each one! You would not even have to tell them ahead of time. But probably better to be transparent up front? Hmmm…


Good points @TomorrowTamara ! I totally agree your points 1.-4. , and as a HO, this is what I would prefer, too. As I see it, it would benefit us all. The important thing would be creating so.e sort of criteria for each category for both sitters and HOs: what does :star: mwan, what aboyt :star::star: etc.


A fantastic post. Agree 100% and THS should take onboard the advice seriously.


Hi @TomorrowTamara. Thank you so much for posting. I first want to say I love the visual aids. A pic is worth a 1000 words!

I don’t know why your message would need mod approval; though I know with pics, they always worry about identifying info being in them.

As for the merging of posts, I admit I don’t know if I like it or dislike it, and it was new to me when I first joined the forums. None of the reddit forums I’ve seen ever merge posts. However, my understanding is that merging is not manipulation or gatekeeping or burying, but just trying to make it easier for future readers to find what they need. Whether merging actually helps with that, I honestly have no idea. I don’t envy the mods trying to figure out whether a topic should be merged/split, and then with what other topic. Now that I think about it, I think the issue is that forum/Discourse search is not as good as google search.

Now I’m curious how much merging/splitting other Discourse forums have used, and how successful they’ve found it. But I’m not going to take the time to figure that out. :wink:

And thank you for fighting for what you believe in.

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What an excellent post @TomorrowTamara and it would appear many agree with you judging by the emoji responses and comments.

I saw the following comment by a moderator today in another post.

“On a side note, the new review system is being introduced very soon which will change the whole review structure and how it is viewed. I am not sure of the intricacies of how it will display, but it is been a long awaited request from many members.”

Let us hope things improve very soon and that the changes are communicated to all members - not just those on the forum.
Some say be careful what you wish for but fingers crossed :crossed_fingers:


I have experience with quite a few of such forums, and this forum is extreme on merging threads. (Splitting they never do, it would sometimes be warranted when a thread is going off on an interesting tangent.)

Generally on the forums that I am familiar with, it is frowned upon when a member resurrected a dormant thread so that is why threads often are blocked after some period (three months, a year). There are several good reasons for that. But here, the moderators act the other way around.

Merging is warranted when several threads are started about the same topic (typically a news item) at the same time.

Merging can also be good for technical or factual issues, like a specific veterinary issue or when it is about software (as long as that did not change).

Merging is not good for this kind of post. The OP had done a lot of work writing it.


New members of the forum have to “earn” the right to post without moderator approval. This may be why…

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That sounds like I have been exceptionally lucky so far. Well, I have slept on a couch because they had an Airbnb guest, but the hosts were very flexible and accommodating (not disorganized), I have no real complaint about it, I slept very well.

A host brought me to a railway station further away when there was a strike, even though he was busy.


I agree with all you’ve said Tamara. I’d also add another imbalance. Why can HO’s cancel sits but sitters can’t? Surely it would be better if any cancellations whether HO or sitters go through membership or none at all.


You have so thoroughly explained exactly how I’ve been feeling as well.

It definitely seems as HO’s are in a privileged position.


I do think it’s unbalanced.
Sitters & HOs pay the same membership price but

  1. sitters can’t apply to all and any listings.
    HOs can send as many invites to sit that they want.

  2. Sitters cannot message HOs.
    HOs can message sitters by way of invitations.

  3. Sitters have to ask HOs to cancel sits.
    HOs can cancel sits.

  4. Sitters can’t ask for compensation ( I want it to stay this way)
    HOs can ask for compensation for utilities, etc …

  5. Background checks on sitters but not HOs


TomorrowTamara is totally 100 per cent correct and also seems smart and I hope TH thinks carefully about her suggestions. Yesterday I was verbally abused by the HO I just sat for. She started treating me like a servant in the year 1850 in England if you get my drift: i.e. Considered herself my superior and that she could do with me as she pleased. This left me sleepless last night worrying about how abusive she might be in a review. So TomorrowTamara’s suggestions for review improvment are very right on.
I have decided I will remain silent and give her no review at all. And hope she does not try abusing me with the review system.


Thank you Angela.

I understand your point, but if all new posts get merged into another, older post, many people won’t see it. Because when you merge a new post into an older one, it appears merely as a comment. Many people won’t be notified and people won’t see all the points someone has made.

If my post was merged into a ‘Review changes’ post that you’ve already seen a week ago, would you think there’s going to be anything new added to it?


I didn’t even know sitters can’t initiate sit cancellation?! I was just never in that situation before. It’s one of those things you discover when it happens to you.