Homeowners and sitters who haven't met

I’m curious to know how many sitters have done sits for homeowners they haven’t actually met. As sitters we’ve done about four house sits where we never actually met the homeowners and everything went great. We did chat on the phone prior to the sit and made arrangements where keys would be left and felt totally comfortable. Our most recent sit was one like this but wonder how other sitters and homeowners have felt about this arrangement.

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I’ve done 30+ sits and only three times have I not met the HOs.
First was with 2 dogs and 3 cats, second with 2 cats, third with one dog.
All worked out well.

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I have had a few sits over the years where I didn’t meet the homeowners first. Last year with Covid, one owner was concerned because her husband was older and had health issues so we got there after they left. I haven’t met the owners on my current sit, For the sit before this one, we only met upon their return. We also didn’t meet the owner at all for the sit prior to that one. In all cases, they were leaving for their trips very early in the morning and didn’t think it was necessary for us to get there right when they left. Two of these sits were automatic invites with no interviews and we have only communicated by text/email. I always enjoy meeting the owners but I have no problem if we aren’t able to for whatever reason, especially if the assignment seems pretty straightforward.

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@Annette yes quite a few now and I have had no problems; everything from a key sent through the post, a key under a brick or inside (ouch!) a garden gnome, or a keybox code or neighbour. I think as long as there has been good communication along the way and you have a comprehensive Welcome Guide, its in some ways easier than where a HO has asked you to be at the house at a particular time so you arrive and they have not even started to pack! If it involves a dog I sometimes offer to take the dog for a walk while they get sorted and with other animals I might sit quietly with the WG and a coffee and double check I have no more questions before they leave. I think a big part of sittimg is ‘playing things by ear’ and being flexible. Happy travels.

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Yes we have done this. In some ways it’s a lot easier as long as there’s been good communication beforehand. It can be quite embarrassing arriving and the hosts haven’t even started packing, an argument starts up about what they are taking and what not, where are the passports and on and on…. You sit there with a red face and decide that the dog definitely needs a walk . Then they go through the rigmarole about the best walks (argument again), door key (best one to give, where to leave it), which lead, poo bags……
I am usually a very well organised person who has asked all the relevant questions and got all the information we need so sometimes it isn’t useful to meet up beforehand.
Afterwards we very rarely meet. Coming home from a trip can be a stressful time with tired children and they really don’t need strangers witnessing that. And most hosts want to leave earlyish so we arrange an optimum time for arriving at our next sit and leaving the last one.

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We have also carried out a few sittings where we have not met the HO. My experience has been positive and I agree with all of the comments above, especially @ElsieDownie

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We’very done this a couple of times when just cat sits.
I think with dogs or more pets there’s usually more information that the HO likes to give.
I’m absolutely fine with this, so long as good communication just in case there’s anything you need to ask once you’re there.

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We’ve done almost 30 sits and we went through this experience of not meeting the owners only once. The owner was very clear and organized and it was 2 very independent and laid-back cats so we felt comfortable accepting this arrangement (Dogs would have been a different story and we might not have accepted). Everything went great but we definitely prefer meeting the owners. We feel it’s kind of reassuring on both sides to get to meet face to face and exchange at least a few minutes together and it definitely adds an extra “something (value maybe?)” to the experience (It might be our Argentinian mindset and personality talking though).

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@Vale yes it works much better when its just cats involved and I always wonder what could go wrong opening the front door with a dog on the other side who is very protective of the house or fearful of strangers. I did go to a place once (key under brick) where a Jack Russell shot out and grabbed my trousers and started the head shake routine…i left him in the yard to calm down; a bigger dog could have been an issue and i would want to do a proper hand-over in that event. The other thing with not meeting HOs when they leave/arrive home is the not knowing how long dogs might have been cooped up inside the house, possibly having not been walked and if they have enough water (sitter arriving) and how how long might they be on their own (sitter leaving) if for whatever reason HOs are late back and especially where flights are involved.

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@carpediem what an experience with that Jack Russell! Fortunately it was not a bigger dog since that would have been another story. Anyway, it’s definitely something to bear in mind for both sitters and owners. And I definitely agree with the concerns regarding the uncertainty of the HOs’ return. Fortunately, the few times we had to leave before HOs (on their request because they were supposed to isolate themselves after coming back from their holidays), it was cats and nothing went wrong with their flights so they got back home only a couple of hours after we had left. I was not comfortable leaving before the owners arrived though, so we stayed in touch, checking everything was going well. As I housesit with my husband, one of us can always get back at least to spend the night if the HO has an issue getting back home on time…considering we’re not that far of course.

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On our very first sit, we did not meet the HO. In fact, the HO insisted we arrive after her departure as she was usually in a flap trying to get everything done to leave. Worked out perfectly.

All other sits we’ve met the HOs before they left, some for a few hours, some a night prior. All have worked like a charm.

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Only once have we not met the HO at all, she was an airsteward so had sitters in very regularly and was very organised.
This summer is the first few times we’ve not stayed to do a handover at the end, partly because they’ve just been away and we don’t want to interact too closely and partly because some of them have had children. The only time the HOs were flying we waited till they’d landed and got through security before leaving after a text, even though this was 22.15 I couldn’t just leave.
I’ve said I’m never leaving dogs again before the HO gets back as the only time we planned this their internal US flight was delayed so they missed their flight back to the UK, but we had to go! Fortunately the dog was in doggy daycare regularly so she could pop on to feed and walk but I was so upset by the whole thing.
On the same sit we did meet them before they went away but two days before they actually went away, she suggested we ensured we were in the house before the dog came back from daycare on our first day to avoid us going into his space the first time. This was a very sensible suggestion which worked very well.
We rarely do completely back to back sits as even before Covid you never know quite what might happen, the sit above, we met two days before as they had a last minute funeral so we arrived a day earlier than planned, met, they had the funeral the next day, and left the next. They put us up in a beautiful B&B we felt completely spoilt, and we made a horrible situation as easy as we could. On a separate occasion the HO was returning from the far East via Hong Kong and got caught in the troubles there. They were three days late returning, but we could stay, which as they were new to the area and had no support network was just as well.

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Hi @Gina and welcome to our friendly community… we hope you enjoy connecting with other members and joining the conversations. Thanks for your feedback on this topic.

We too have had a couple of cat sits where all the info was shared pre-sit by chatting, and they left before we arrived - we didn’t meet them until they returned. As long as the arrangements work for everyone and don’t compromise the pet care in anyway, I think it’s fine and as you say, communication is key. For us personally we always ask for a handover and time with the owners when dogs, horses or livestock are involved - but generally that’s what the owners seem to want too. Enjoy finding you way around the forum … all the best.

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On our very first sit we didn’t meet the HOs. We were sitting for an elderly cat and some chickens. We’d communicated via the Trusted Housesitters messaging system, and I think also by text prior to the sit. I don’t think we actually spoke on the phone. The HOs had a comprehensive welcome guide which covered everything and the key was left in a coded key safe. I think they were quite experienced HOs and we were grateful that they chose us to do our first sit.

Every sit since we have met the HO for an in person handover, either in advance for a local sit, or on the day the sit began.

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Several here and all smooth!

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Not on the first sit, but I did a repeat sit in Singapore where I was travelling back from Thailand late, and the HO was leaving really early. She left a key under the mat… It was a year later, but the dogs just looked up at me - oh it’s him again.

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On my first sit I took over from another sitter and another sitter took over from me 6 weeks later. However during our sit I used video communication via messenger so talked with the HO and could show her in real time how her dogs were. Another time I had done 2 pre-sit visits to meet the pets and the owners and shown what was required. So on the day the sit began arriving to a home with no owner present was not a big deal. With WhatsApp and Zoom there should be no problem communicating before the sit and getting everything sorted out. Now with experience, I would be wary of a HO who didn’t make themselves available before or on the day.

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@Noelene thats a tricky one! I have been on sits where i have not met the HO some have been fine because of good communication from both sides, others not so and not surprisingly due to the HO not really wanting to engage properly throughout (eg my having to push for replies to messages on crucial detail …where is the house? where will i find the key?) . Sometimes meeting the HO has not been that useful especially when they are bundling four kids into a car, toss you the key, and drive off leaving half their holiday stuff still in the house! The covid situation has raised other problems and honestly if the communication has been good, I have a solid WG, they have back-up in place, and i know where to find a key, I have felt alot safer not meeting them and very happy just to lock up and head off before they get back. Where a HO has wanted me to come the night before, I have (and again with covid in mind) tactfully said ‘Yes no problem and I will make sure I am wearing a face covering and keep social distance so we are all safe’; it sends a clear message that I take covid seriously and that they should also! That does not mean that I have not then had to dodge them wanting to get up close when we are doing a hand-over…some people just dont seem to get the covid situation, and some actually dont think its a problem so sitting for these sort of people, I am quite happy not to meert them!

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Hi @ ElsieDownie I couldn’t agree more with your post about the hosts not ready to leave when you arrive. I previously had a housesit for a couple whereby they wanted me to arrive at 10 a.m. I agreed and this was one week prior to the sit. Then the day before the sit, the HO sent me a text asking if I could arrive at 11:00 a.m. Again, I agreed. One thing that is surely one of my pet peeves is: please be punctual/be on time. Well, I arrived promptly on time at 11:00 a.m. only to find the couple not ready to leave. One of the HO said that it wasn’t him, it was her who was still packing. Well, it was approximately, 12:15 p.m. before they departed. And I get what you mean by the dog who is wondering when is he going out for a walk.

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