New to this, and lots of questions!

Hello there! I’m new to this and have some questions as an owner.

Next year I am going to be overseas back and forth -sometimes as long as four months away from home. If I look for a house sitter for four months, can I expect them to contribute to the gas/electricity bills, or is this really cheeky? I think my concern is with the rise in utility bills. I am mindful of my usage and would not suddenly want huge bills while I am overseas.

I have no pets, and therefore the only thing I would ask of the house sitter, is to maintain the garden, which would not be time consuming.

My other question is - is it unreasonable to state that I don’t want the house sitters to have visitors in my home?

Thanks in advance everyone!

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A warm Welcome to the forum. You really will find members very helpful here.
There is a comprehensive thread around the untilities question, so do have a look at that…

Kind regards
Therese

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Hi there
That all sounds perfectly reasonable.
As long as you communicate this in your listing, I see no problem.

I will just add one thing
As sitters we are mindful of our energy usage on all of our sits even though we don’t pay the bills and from what I read here a lot of sitters have a similar outlook.
:slightly_smiling_face:

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From what I read on the forum most sitters are taken aback of asked to pay utilities , because looking after the pets is weighed against extra costs.
For your situation I think it’s perfectly reasonable, because there are no pets to be cared for. It’s free accommodation for what, watering plants…?
Especially with utility costs rising to where nobody knows yet, I think this should be considered.

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Hello @MaloryTowers and welcome to the forum. I’ll just address your final question, about visitors. THS has a strict policy on this topic, for both owners and sitters.

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That’s really good to know. :grinning:

As I’m new to this, I suppose I haven’t thought things through. I think my concern would be that financially due to rising utility costs, I would be way out of pocket having sitters stay in winter, running the heating. As opposed to keeping the heating on minimal while I am away. I did read other posts where people were aghast at being asked to contribute to utilities. If I was looking to house sit - it really wouldn’t bother me paying a reasonable amount towards heating. I’m getting free accommodation, experiencing a new area and a new way of life.

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As I said, I think most people would consider it reasonable to contribute to utility costs when they don’t have to look after pets. I think even when there are pets it depends on how low or high maintenance they are. There’s certainly a difference if it’s dogs, which need to be walked frequently or snakes, which are fed once a week…month…?:woman_shrugging:t3:…there is such a wide range of possibilities.
There are no rules and it might be something to talk about.

It also depends on the listing and how attractive it is for sitters. Then it depends on where the sitters are from. Do they live in a country where they are used to no or very little heating/cooling costs or do they live in a country where the costs are very high. So there certainly are different perspectives to look at this.

@MaloryTowers I still don’t consider a sit without pets to be ‘free accommodation’. Having a home vacant for an extended period of time can create additional costs and certainly more concern. Where I live, an insurance rider would be required, as the chances of forced entry, or damage caused by such things as water pipe breaks, electrical faults, or windstorms (and more) are certainly heightened. Angela can tell a tale of her having left her home vacant for just one week and the associated losses she incurred. A human presence in a home certainly has value. Most sitters still take on a lot of responsibility for a home, even if there aren’t any pets involved.

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Thanks so much for the information and it is something when I have definite dates, I can post on my ad and like you said, talk about it with sitters that reply. I am a big dog lover but have not got any pets, so this really is a lovely holiday for sitters. :grinning:

I think it depends on your home and location. If you have a lovely home in a fantastic location then that may be enough of an incentive for some sitters to pay towards your utilities. However you have to remember that sitters are still giving you a service. Full time live in security for your home plus a gardener would be really expensive if you had to pay. If you have a nice home in an area of no particular interest then what is the sitter getting out of the deal?
Personally, I would want to see your last years bills and, at best, would agree to pay for any higher usage than normal during our stay with the knowledge that we would almost be guaranteed to owe you nothing as we are extremely careful with energy usage.

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Hi Colin, thank you for your reply. Oh the gardening would be minimal - there is no grass, so it would be pulling out a few weeds. I would think an hour a month would do it. Actually that is a really fantastic idea - I could just ask sitters to pay anything in excess of the normal bills. I like to get as much information as possible being new to all of this.

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I think maybe you are jumping on my words a bit much. I appreciate that some sitters would not be happy to pay towards the electricity/gas and that’s absolutely fine too. In the UK the utility bills have escalated, with another rise coming later in the year. So it is something that I would need to weigh up. I happen to live in a beautiful area of Scotland, with stunning scenery and therefore I don’t feel contributing a little towards utility bills, is a big ask. But I hear what you say.

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I agree with Colin, and this makes sense. You would have to leave your heat on some minimal setting anyway in order to prevent pipes from freezing in the winter, and that would incur some level of gas/electric bill. Other bills to consider are internet, cable TV, garbage. In my area in the US, these items can be placed on “vacation hold” and reduced to zero while I am gone for a few months. Water/sewer bill is much lower when I am not home, but not zero. A Sitter’s willingness to pay any money towards the bills depends a lot upon their desire to stay at the home. Interesting dynamics, for sure.

Welcome
I think that is a good idea and very fair to ask (for long term sits) sitters to pay if the bills are more than you would typically use during the same period especially as there are no pets in the home. It is also good to keep in mind that the majority of sitters will also be paying utility bills at their own home while sitting for you.

We are very frugal with our heat etc at home and keep our heat at 65/18c during the day and much lower at night. We have completed a few winter sits where the owners keep their heat at 63/17 during the day and that is getting a little cool even for us when sitting/relaxing. We did however keep the heat at that temperature and snuggled in blankets. For a longer period we would prefer to pay the difference though and be comfortable.

@MaloryTowers, if you are going to ask Sitters to contribute to utilities, it would be really helpful if you put a number on it (or a range) in your initial listing. Sitters want to know what they are getting into when they apply for a sit. There are still so many uncertainties, but when it comes to money, at least there would be clarity. You seem like a reasonable, thoughtful person. You want that to shine through in your listing.

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Thanks everyone for all your input - it certainly gives me food for thought. @PVGemini, it would only be gas/electricity that I would be concerned about bill wise. I understand most sitters would be very considerate, but I really want to avoid suddenly having huge bills. I don’t even mind if the bills are more than usual, but it is more having a safety net if the bills far exceed my usual bills. @Kootenaigirl that’s lovely that you are so considerate, although I wouldn’t want anyone sitting cold that was house sitting.

I feel it is just about being open with sitters, and being clear in my ad. Those sitters who are not then interested, can look for something else suitable for them.

Exactly. Do what you feel is reasonable.
Without pets our house would not be heated at all while we’re away and in summer nobody would turn on the A/C. Where we live a house sitter would not not be necessary at all, because there are enough neighbors to have an eye on everything as well as my mother and my brother.
I would not need someone to take care of the house but I would see it as an opportunity for sitters to explore the area. In this case I definitely would ask for more than just excess utility costs. But as I do have pets this is not going to happen.

Our sitters have always asked us if they can have visitors. We want them to enjoy their time at our home so for us it’s fine. But you have a right to ask for what makes you comfortable! The biggest risk is on us, the homeowners.
We ask that they be employed full time so they are at home with our dogs. So we just reiterate what is important to us personally. We don’t ask for any money since for us it feels like a win win. But we do have two dogs and they are our priority. So they are supposed to be there with them the majority of their visit.
But again, it’s your home and what you have agreed on.

So do most people wanting sitters, have pets?