Housesitting Standards

Hi All - New homeowner to the group, looking for feedback for an independent situation that did not happen on this site, but I’m considering joining this group and would like to hear from others.

We’ve used a great pair of house sitters who work very hard to care for our 2 older dogs, not an easy task, but recently after a stay where we fully stocked the fridge based on their preferences after we asked what they’d like us to have, we saw their empty wine bottle in our recyclables and a vaping pen under the couch after returning home from that trip. I’m surprised they would assume this is perfectly fine to do on the job in our non-smoking home and while caring for our elderly dogs.

We are known to be generous, welcoming, and gracious hosts, but we were not asked in advance about alcohol or smoking preferences, although we did not specifically say they are not permitted. If I were hired to sit in someone’s home, I’d expect that it’s a “no” unless discussed and approved beforehand.

Curious if I’m being unreasonable in my expectations, or justified in my disappointment with this discovery. They are amazing otherwise, but now I’m uncomfortable since these liberties were taken without our knowledge. The sitters are on the younger side, over 21, I’m not very familiar with vaping, but I smelled smoke in the guest room when we got home.

Thoughts from both sides requested. Keep it kind please. Thank you!


Hi Barbara
I think it is very important to add to your listing clearly any activities that you do not want happening in your home.
Many people specify no smoking or vaping and we would only apply for those sits I as I don’t want to stay in an environment where those activities happen.
I think unless it specifies otherwise many sitters would not think to ask whether it would be ok to have a glass of wine or a beer while sitting. My husband will drink the occasional beer and we would never think to ask if this was ok if drinking alcohol was not mentioned in the listing.
Again if that is not something you are comfortable with it is important to specify that and reinforce it when you are chatting with the sitters before confirming them.


The vaping pen inside the house is a big no no. That’s an easy one. If you’re a wholly non smoking house then it needs to be specified that you’d like non smoking and non vaping sitters only. I personally think it’s totally okay to have a couple of glasses of wine at the end of a day, whatever you’re doing. If you’d found 20 bottles then maybe there was a problem but a single bottle seems perfectly normal behaviour to me. We wouldn’t apply for an alcohol free sit in the same way we wouldn’t apply for a vegans only one.


I bottle of wine is no big deal. If you reallymwant non drinkers and non smokers you should specify this in your listing.


@Barbara2023 I would like to wish you a very warm welcome to the forum community. Here you can connect with like-minded members and find answers to your housesitting questions. Please feel free to search previous topics using the spyglass. If you need any help joining the website then please let me know.
Best wishes Carla

I agree that vaping in someone’s home is not ok (unless previously discussed and agreed upon). As for drinking wine, that seems a bit extreme on your part. It is legal, they are of legal age, and a single bottle of wine is hardly a raging kegger with the neighborhood invited. I do think that if you want no alcohol in the house, you would need to state that up front.


We would treat this as a learning experience: The HO should specify if they allow alcohol or smoking on the premises / during the sit. If nothing else was stated, we would assume alcohol to be OK and smoking inside not OK. Some HOs allow smoking outside, others don’t want smokers at all. I guess the smell of smoke in the room could also be from their clothes, but maybe they really smoked inside.

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Really appreciate the honest and respectful replies. Definitely getting great feedback. Thanks and hope to see more feedback from both HOs and sitters. Thanks again! (Love this forum. Really glad I posted here! : )


I doubt you’ll get many different replies to those already. I agree with the above, you should specify no smoking in the house (although I would have thought most smokers wouldn’t dream of smoking inside someone else’s house these days). If you don’t want people to drink alcohol inside then also specify, however that’s never cropped up in any listing I’ve seen and would put off lots of sitters I’m sure. I like a g & t and or wine now and then.


For the vaping - As a non-smoker I consider vaping to be smoking but, as an ex-tobacconist I know many smokers started to vape to stop smoking and hence do not consider vaping to be smoking. It is common to see ‘no smokers’ on listings but I have never seen ‘No Vapers’ - For this reason, it is very important to be specific in your listing -’ No Smoking or Vaping anywhere in the house or garden’ - if that is what you want.

For the bottle of wine - I am not sure why you don’t want your sitters having a drink in your home but if it is something you feel strongly about then obviously you have a right to say so. However, most adults would consider that quite a strict rule and I think by having it you will reduce your pool of applicants considerably.


Adding to the chorus here - i think most sitters would assume that vaping/smoking inside a house is not permitted. If you don’t want it done in your garden/yard/patio/etc, that could be specified in the listing.

Drinking wine is considered much more acceptable. Unless the sitters drank a very valuable bottle from my personal collection (if I had such a collection!), I wouldn’t be bothered. I have only ever seen one sit that requested no alcohol in the house. It also requested no coffee, and I think the HOs were LDS from that and other clues.

Hi @Barbara2023
I totally get the no vaping or smoking rule. As to drinking this isn’t something that has come up in my 10 sits. I don’t drink every night and may go a week without a drink but I have drunk during a sit. I think it’s the sitters responsibility to not get blind drunk so as not able to care for the pets or to trash the place. I’ve even had a few HO’s leave me beers or wine to drink if I choose.


As a home owner I always leave a couple of bottles of wine & other treats for my sitters even though I rarely drink myself.
Personally I wouldn’t object to vaping but I do think it would be good manners for them to ask if it was ok. As others have said, maybe being ultra clear in your profile or during your initial discussions would avoid future issues.


There are homeowners who specify parameters for their sitters, often involving food, smoking, or drugs. Anything that you feel is unacceptable in your environment (not necessarily inside the home), then you need to spell that out very clearly, i.e. “no alcohol consumption permitted during the sit,” “no smokers,” “no vape consumption allowed.”

Just because you found a vape pen in the home, it’s not necessarily that your sitters were vaping inside the home. But again, if this is an issue for you, then it needs to be specified at the outset. I am sure there are plenty of sober sitters who would not mind such rules, but it seems unfair to retroactively judge sitters for perfectly legal activities that were unlikely to interfere with their sit duties. I personally would find this needlessly judgmental and would not apply.


Hi @Barbara2023 and welcome to the forum. I’m trying to work out whether it’s the forum you’re considering joining (and you have by posting this) or Trustedhousesitters itself. I’m wondering whether it’s the latter and that this great pair of sitters you used were actually hired by you so it was a job, as you mention both “hire” and “job” in your post which is completely different to how THS operates. If you have paid them and they knew it was a non-smoking home then I would think you have grounds to be upset. Did you raise your concerns with them as that would be the first thing I would have done?
As others have said, we often are given a bottle of wine by owners or have a drink ourselves without even thinking it was something to ask owners.
Clear communication is really important and I think this has been a learning experience for you which will help you clarify what your expectations are of future sitters.


Thanks for the feedback. To clarify a few points that came up:

  1. Yes, in this scenario, we paid the sitters as this was not arranged through THS. This forum came up when doing a Google search to see how others get feedback about housesitting issues and to see if our concerns were valid before raising the issue with the sitters, so I signed up to learn more. I have since signed up for the THS site itself to learn more about how it works. Definitely sounds interesting and something we may choose to purchase.
  2. In terms of vaping, if it leaves a smoky smell, creates smoke, and is ingested like a cigarette, I consider it smoking, and will specifically communicate in the future that it is fine to do on our patio with the slider closed, but not inside the house. I believe the jury is still out on the health effects of vaping, and as non-smokers and parents of 2 elder dogs, we will communicate our standards better moving forward.
    3). Regarding alcohol, this is still debatable. We are not LDS, in recovery, cheap, or judgmental, but anyone who has elder dogs knows it’s not easy caring for them in their later years. The sitter could potentially have to visit the vet during the stay, assist the dogs on the stairs, administer medications, get up early to walk them, etc. We do not care about their personal activities and definitely aren’t prudes or stingy, but would feel better knowing they can legally drive if necessary when caring for our dogs during the stay they were hired to do. These days, 2 or more glasses of wine could pose a conflict if driving is needed. We enjoy adult beverages when responsible for ourselves, but I honestly don’t think I’d drink if a client was paying me a nightly fee to be responsible for their house and pets. A job is a job no matter how you slice it. (Although I now understand that this type of compensation is not how this site works.)

Lastly, everyone’s input has been very helpful. Bottom line learned for me here is that the expectations should be specifically discussed in advance, mutually agreed upon, and will affect the pool of interested candidates if too strict.

Thanks again to all for the feedback. It’s been super helpful. I sincerely thank all for giving great insight and reminding us that it’s important to be clear, flexible, open, open-minded, and realistic with our sitters. Thank you!


@Barbara2023 , you make valid points about drinking alcohol while caring for your elderly dogs. I would have no problem with those requirements as I rarely drink and don’t smoke, and I’m sure there are many others like me.


Hi @Barbara2023 welcome to the forum. We are also HOs who have 3 dogs who are heading towards the elderly bracket. We have specified non smokers only and that would include vaping as far as we are concerned. We would ensure this was discussed during the video call before anccepting a sitter. Although I rarely drink alcohol, it doesn’t bother me at all that our sitters do as I realise it’s pretty normal for most people. We are also lucky in that our vet is walking distance of the house should none of the sitters be able to drive. However I do think that it is different if you are actually paying people for a pet sitting service, then I would not expect them to be drinking on the job as it were……


@Barbara2023 Hi Barbara and welcome to the Forum! I kind of see were you are coming from. As most others, I agree smoking, including vaping, should be addressed and specified. Drinking: I’m not 100% convinced about your argument. I mean, accidents can happen with all pets and luckily rarely do. It is not contained to older dogs. Whenever an incident like that comes up, sitters will need to deal with it. I mean, parents with young children also need to be alert at all times as kids are so accident prone, and many of these parents surely drink!

You also need to consider the following, but please take it lightly - I don’t know anything about your situation/location so I am not passing judgement, I’m just highlighting something you need to think about: As you have now learned, THS is an exchange - free pet- and home care in exchange for free lodging. It should feel like both parties benefit equally from this exchange. The fact that your dear dogs are elderly makes it a less desirable sit by nature, and it might be harder to attract very good ‘free sitters’, as sitters can’t leave for sightseeing as easily, unless your home is situated very locally in a highly desirable area. If not, work on others perks, like offering a vehicle for sitters to use, or having good WIFI or TV options - this means different things to different people: Some sitters want a great ‘work from home’ environment with stable internet, rather than sightseeing. If the exchange isn’t perceived mutually beneficial to both parties, you might be back to paying for pet care.

I agree, if it is that important to you that sitters should not consume any alcohol, you should definitely mention this in your listing beforehand. I frequently see listings that specify only vegans or vegetarians need apply. Your home, your rules. If it is clearly stated in the listing, and reinforced in introductory talks, then good sitters should have no problem with these requirements, as that is what they agree to and know about it beforehand.


I rather see that there is very mysterious stereotypical thinking and we find some House Owners who feel kind of superior and believe that they do their “sitters” some kind of altruist favor, while actualy it is quite opposite I believe as housesitters are the ones who dedicate their time and spend money to get to the house in order to voluntarily help house owner. That is often very hard work which is paid only by thank you and happiness of pets. Please respect each other. I would rather wish to see alternative version of site where House Owners need to apply to petsitters who could ask them as well such humiliating questions like "what are you doing in your job? why do you want to come to my city? do you know that you should clean the apartment before you leave? do you know how to use kitchen? Have you ever stolen pen? :slight_smile:
Please all fantastic members of that wonderful community RESPECT EACH OTHER AS THAT IS MUTUAL EXCHANGE where non of the sides is more than other. Please also remember that none of the sides is servant of the other. If you can’t understand that your account should be banned. Peace! Love! and what is the most important RELAX :wink: