House Sit Handovers - the less obvious questions?

What are some of your handover specific questions? Have you had to learn a new skill quickly on arrival or have you added questions not previously thought of? And what are some of the most important questions you always ask?

As many of us know, “handover” is one of the most important days as your house sit gets underway! You’ll read much advice from members in this forum about the communication that’s so important on the run up to the sit, but what about on the day you arrive?

But what typically do you ask or what have you been surprised by (or caught out by) that’s now become a key question for future sits?

Our own experience is that despite having a long list of questions (which we adapt to each unique situation) there’s often something that ends up being added :slight_smile: Of course many things become natural over time, and for us it’s generally when arriving in a new country with a very different culture, climate or unusual environment that adds to our learning. Or it might be a new pet… llamas being our latest “previously unknown”… we now have plenty of llama questions for next time!!

I know some sits are very simple, and there are sitters who don’t have an in-person handover (easy cat sits for instance), so this question is really for those who do prefer that in-person handover or who are starting out and wondering if it’s something that they should be considering.

Where is the cat?
We had been communicating for months about looking after their dog and cat. Upon arrival, we had the handover and details of the dog but no mention of the cat. So I asked: Where is the cat? To be told that he no longer lived there as he had found somewhere else to live!!


@Itchyfeet I needed a laugh this morning and that’s provided it :rofl: Thankyou!!

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When owners lend you their car, check the paperwork.

Last week, when the car broke down, we found out that the car wasn’t actually taxed! :scream:

So yeah, that’ll be a question for future sits :rofl:

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Wow! That’s such a good reminder @Els. We were quite lax in our early days, but now always make sure we have copies of the insurance cover, details of recovery or local garage, and a letter to say we are authorised to drive the vehicle (particularly in countries like Mexico or South America) where there can be more frequent road checks. But you know tax will now be added to our list too… that’s always been an assumption - and tbh apart from UK I wouldn’t know which countries tax vehicles so that’s def one to check :blush:

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We always ask about any changes in diet + health of the animals. But I think that’s quite an obvious question? :slight_smile: Usually there are no changes, but sometimes they can be quite extensive and even change the character of the sit completely. Once we sat 4 dogs + other animals and one of the lady dogs was in heat during our stay which we only got to know the day before (we didn’t even know she wasn’t neutered, definitely something to ask about in the future).

The driver is also responsible to ensure the car has an up to date MOT.
What a minefield!!

Where’s the fuse box? Is that the only one? Where does the water mains turn off in the house? Where does the water mains turn off outside the house?

We had a flood in one of our earlier house sits and couldn’t find the mains stop off. The one in the house was impossible to turn, all rusted up. The farmer up the road eventually helped. The outside valve was in one of his fields! Now, we ask and won’t take a woolly answer.

In a few places the electric breakers periodically went off. Great fun looking for a fuse box with no lights.


Thanks for these good reminders @Timmy. Changes in diet and health are very good questions and not obvious for everyone. This question of diet is great for getting more insight about a pets general health and wellbeing and if it’s recent it’s important to know as it might result in an outcome on your watch that needs attending to. How was your experience of looking after your lady pup on heat? Something we’ve managed to avoid so far!!

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Us to @ElsieDownie … on our very first sit a radiator sprung a leak and surged through the electric light into the understairs cupboard. We were able to isolate the radiator and switch the electric off quickly, but it’s two questions (and a story we often tell) on our handovers!! Sounds like yours wasn’t so easy!!


It was definitely challenging, we needed to organize everything around it since there was also a male dog (thankfully castrated but still very much interested). We had to divide the dogs in to two groups, go super early on walks and in general be very careful and mindful. We’ll most likely be back next year, though! The area and animals are lovely, although it really isn’t a sit for everyone.


For those who sit in NZ and have the good fortune of using the HO’s car, New Zealand cars must have both current car licensing and a Warrant of Fitness. Both of these are displayed on the front windscreen and the car’s insurance (provided they have insurance so vital to check) will not be valid should there be the misfortune of an accident. Car insurance is not compulsory in New Zealand and the minimum insurance you can get is Third Party cover. This means that should there be an accident and it is your fault, the HO’s car would not be insured - just the party whose car you were deemed to have damaged. If the other party is at fault, and they have 3rd party insurance then they should cover any damage to the HO’s vehicle. Unfortunately, this can be a long, drawn out process as can involve taking it to court and we all know that any court process is not something that happens any time soon! So, my advice to anybody not familiar with vehicle insurance in NZ and having access to a HO’s car, be vigilant and check carefully.

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Sorry people - I meant that if the car owner doesn’t have both car licensing and a Warrant of Fitness, they won’t be able to get insurance and therefore won’t have any!

These are excellent questions. I would be very scared in the pitch dark, that’s for sure!

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Yes, the fuse box! I was on a sit on Jeju, South Korea. The breaker box door was a decorative panel that looked like art on the wall - never would have found it without a text to the HO.


Also good to find out if they have breakdown cover

I’ve learnt from my last sit that I need to know if the dogs have been spayed/neutered and, if not, are they in season? Also need to know if a dog pulls a lot and can be let off the lead or not.


They did, but since the car wasn’t taxed, insurance wasn’t having any of it! So it cost the owner 300£ to tow us!

I now always check to make sure owners have a cat basket accessible, I had to get in touch with a HO in Dubai and then crawl around their attic space when I needed to take the pet to the vet!


Us too @Martin_S … always “where is the cat carrier” and it’s often retrieved from a hidey whole in the garage :slight_smile: Good to know it’s not been needed but good to know also where it is, just in case! Good question!!

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