Nightmare house sitters, any advice?

Hey folks, we’ve had the enormous displeasure of having a really, really poor pair of house sitters just leave our place after staying here for several weeks. Despite an agreement to, they never updated us on the status of the house while we were away. We thought that was strange, but many posts on here advise that no news is good news, so after prodding a few times and getting all-clear responses from them, we assumed everything was good.

Fast forward to our return, the day of our return they let us know that they were going to leave before we got home without even getting confirmation that it was okay for them to do so. We get home and discover a mess: an unflushed toilet, a rusting knife in the unrun dishwasher, and furniture moved. Then, we slowly realized that they had been using personal items in our bathroom without permission – things like hairbrushes (?!), medicine, toiletries, and sunscreen. There are signs that they even used our own bed without permission! The sit ended a while ago and we’re still discovering missing things, broken things, and used things.

On top of that, they left a horrible review of our home, saying that the room we had them in was too small and that our dog was uncontrollable and always chewing on their things; all of these problems went unmentioned during the many times we tried to ask them during their sit.

We absolutely did mess up a few things: one thing we take responsibility for is that we accidentally left a camera turned face down on a shelf that they discovered which they took as us maliciously recording them (which is impossible given that the camera was facing down). The room was absolutely small for two people + a dog, but we had a picture of it in our listing and specifically called it out during our initial interaction. We understand that they were likely having a tough time with our dog, she’s not an easy dog to take care of at times.

However, the fact that they did not even bother to mention any of this during the sit really makes no sense to me. Then they turned around and started using our stuff as some sort of retributive action, instead of coming to us and letting us know their concerns. We could have worked with them to resolve some of their issues during their stay (we would have even been willing to let them go early if things were truly as bad as they say), but they instead chose to freeze us out and commit a kind of violence against us by messing up our home and using our stuff.

We’ve both been crying daily since getting back, whether it’s discovering yet another thing they used or just the absurdity of welcoming people into our home and having them ruin it. I’ve gotten to the end here and I’m not even sure what I’m asking for. Has anyone else dealt with a situation like this? How did you get over it?

Sorry, to hear this, but you could have been more persistent in requiring updates. It seems your dog was ok, though?

You were not being very hospitable by putting them in a small room for several weeks, denying them them the good bed.

And then you complain about “furniture moved”.


It’s unfortunate this happened for you. It’s never easy for either party to feel let down like this.

As a sitter, I always ask the pet owner how often they would like updates. It’s usually once a day, sometimes less, a few times more. If I don’t hear from them after I send, I assume that no news is good news. If I were a pet owner and I were not hearing from my pet sitter with the agreed schedule, then I would not make this assumption. Any number of things could have happened and I would want to know before assuming anything.

It’s hard to know about the other things you stated. It’s important for a pet sitter and pet owner to screen well. If a sitter is greeted with things that were not as they had expected, then they should have a conversation with the pet owner and determine steps forward, even if that means leaving the sit. If a pet owner is greeted with something unexpected, or they are not receiving the communication they thought they were going to, then they should have a conversation with the pet sitter to determine steps forward.

As far as how to get over a sit like this, I had a nightmare sit not long after joining in 2017 that still makes me extra cautious about certain things. For me, it’s not so much about getting over what I faced as it is about asking more questions so it doesn’t happen again.


To be clear, we did not “deny them” anything. They never indicated anything was wrong, even when we reached out. Had they asked, we would have given them the bigger bed without pause.

And no, the dog was not okay. According to their final review, she had peed in the house several times, was chewing on things when they left the house, and our neighbor even heard her howling a few times. All of these things should have been brought to our attention, at least so we could have offered to help. Instead, they kept all of these things from us until the end of the sit!


Well, it sounds like the sit wasn’t good for either party and you were both participants in it going sideways.


Did you leave them a review? Did you mention any of this?

Yes, I did leave a review and mentioned all of this. They of course mentioned several things in their review of us we felt unfair. Honestly, we’re just broken up about the respect imbalance. We of course did not want them to have a bad time and if they’d let us know we would have done everything we could to remedy the situation. They, on the other hand, felt they needed to get revenge perhaps by treating our home disrespectfully.

Looks like there was a lack of communication from both ends that caused problems. The frequency of updates, time of sitter arrival and departure, things they can use/not use in the home should all have been discussed upfront before the sit even started…actually before the sit was even confirmed so that everyone was on the same page. The way you get over this is to put together a better checklist for yourself to go over with future sitters. Also put yourself into the sitter’s shoes on how to make the home comfortable for them especially for a longterm sit. I will say though that finding an indoor camera whether it’s face up or down would make me feel horrible as a sitter. If I had to guess, they probably didn’t discuss with you because even if you had apologized for that, it wouldn’t change how it made them feel. All bad situations are a learning experience for the next time.


I feel for you @notgenz as that’s not a great welcome home. Are you and those sitters relatively new to THS? What were their reviews like, including what reviews they gave past owners? What communication did you have with your sitters before confirming the sit? Did you have a video call and ask questions of each other, show them around your home? This all helps to get a feel for each other and whether it would be a good fit. Unfortunately, it has not been a good experience for either party so it would seem. The majority of sitters are conscientious and love pets so don’t give up on THS. It is, though, only a platform for owners and sitters to meet, like a dating website; both parties need to do their homework on each other as ultimately, THS is not responsible for the choices owners and sitters make.


Sorry this happened to you. Horrible! Those sitters had little respect for you or your property.

I am sure that you can do better. Choose better sitters and be very clear about what the sitters can use in your house, and what is off-limits. Mature sitters with multiple excellent reviews will generally be more respectful and have better communication skills and personal boundaries.

If you KNOW that your dog is challenging, be proactive in offering advice before the sit (in writing). Then check in with the sitter and ask about those specific challenging behaviors. Some sitters don’t want to appear to be complaining or lacking self-sufficiency (one of the review categories).


I’m sorry this happened. It does sound like the sitters were unhappy about a few things and chose to behave in a retaliatory way instead of communicating, which is really disturbing and the opposite of trustworthy. I mean, they clearly left things in a way so that you’d KNOW they used your personal things. It’s so passive aggressive.

I don’t know if you have responded to their review, but if not I’d suggest something along the lines of:

“It’s disappointing to hear of problems for the first time in a review, especially when we tried multiple times to check in and get updates, only to be told “all clear”. So many of the issues raised in this review could have been fixed during the sit if X had only mentioned it”

I think it would be important to say what you said here about the camera, because that is a huge (valid!) concern for sitters. Owning the mistake while clarifying that the camera was face down would be good to have on record.

Hopefully you have other reviews to mitigate this one and your next sit will be wonderful.


Thanks for the advice and commiserations, everyone. Appreciate the responses and yes, a big learning here for us to own our mistake of the camera and get rid of it in the first place and to be more detailed in our walkthrough to set better expectations.


Three of the prime reasons sitters don’t like sits @notgenz are cameras, undisclosed or additional behavioural issues with pets & not having somewhere comfy to sleep (doubly so when you can see there’s a comfier option available and it’s a long sit). It shifts the relationship balance and makes the sitter feel unappreciated and/or watched. You’ve inadvertently made a rod for your own back without knowing it. Their response is still thoughtless and disrespectful though and not how any sitter should behave. Put it down to experience & a mismatch and change your selection process, handover notes, sleeping arrangement, regularity of comms updates etc so it’s a one off. #betterlucknextttime


Sounds like there were mistakes made on both sides, the indoor camera is a huge no, but using all your personal things, and worst of all, an unflushed toilet is disgusting. Were the sitters inexperienced? Did they have any reviews. Don’t give up because of one bad experience, most sitters wouldn’t behave like that. Go for a mature sitter with good reviews next time, and state in your post that you want daily communication. Try and move on, and get rid of the camera.

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Your nightmare house sitters most probably experienced your sit as a nightmare house sit: indoor cameras, undisclosed uncontrollable pet, and a too-small room for a long term sit. What bothers me is that you knew the “room was too small for two people and the dog”, and you “understood that they were likely having a tough time with your dog”. Yet, you put them in that too-small room, didn’t disclose potential difficulties with your dog and “accidentally forgot to turn off the indoor camera”

You write, ‘the fact that they did not even bother to mention any of this during the sit really makes no sense to me.’ It makes perfect sense to me. They felt blindsided by you and didn’t want to have anything to do with you. Hats off to them for sticking it out and not demanding you find alternative care for your dog.

You write, ‘they instead chose to freeze us out and commit a kind of violence against us.’ Excuse me? I am sure they felt violated by your camera and acted as they felt fit. Were their actions politically correct? Of course not, however…

You knowingly put them in a very difficult situation, and now you’re ‘crying daily’ because they didn’t want to discuss with you things you “messed up” (and are now trying to downplay) but retaliated instead and on the top of everything had a nerve to leave before your arrival ‘without even getting confirmation that it was okay for them to do so,’ so they wouldn’t have to face you.

Was their behavior okay? Of course not, very immature and unnecessary. There’s no excuse for it. Perhaps they were inexperienced and didn’t know any better. But they stuck it out. And you found your dog well upon arrival, I presume?

P.s. You present yourself as a victim. I am sure the sitters feel the same way. So next time, make sure your sitters have a comfortable place to stay, turn off the indoor cameras, be open about your dog’s behavioral issues and everything will be okay.


I would also interpret that as passive aggression.

But it is not “ruining the home”. It was symbolic. Just flush it.

After several weeks with a dog that was “not easy to take care of” I would have felt pretty angry too. And I would have done my best not to act resentfully towards the pet. But the owners…

(There are worse things. I remember a story about an ex leaving shrimp in curtain rods.)

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@pietkuip . I never said “ruining the home???”, and an unflushed toilet is disgusting, passive aggressive or not.

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It was the OP who said that the home had been ruined.

For example because furniture had been moved.

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I am so sorry this happened. So many people here are laying half the blame on you and I do not think that is warranted. The sitters would have had a better experience if they had communicated. Period. A camera (not in use), a small room and a challenging dog are no reason for using your personal toiletries, leaving a mess, or moving furniture (and not moving it back). Sheesh!

Please don’t give up on future sitters. It is so disheartening for bad sitters to spoil this mutual service for everyone.


@pietkuip It’s funny you keep indexing on that one comment about furniture while ignoring the rest of the things they did. How would you feel if someone had broken into your home and used up and rearranged half of all your stuff, and left the rest dirty? Wouldn’t you feel violated in some way?

Yes, I absolutely acknowledge that we did not place them in the best situation. However that doesn’t give them license to do whatever they want with stuff in our place.

By the way, as we are going through and cleaning stuff we are finding more things that they used and didn’t clean in our drawers (which were rearranged too by the way), large bottles of nice alcohol totally empty that were 70%-80% full before we left, now totally empty, and a neighbor told us they had a friend over without telling us. Does that clear the bar for something to complain about yet?