Owner return date conundrum

We have noticed recently that there’s been an uptick in pet/home owners returning from trips before the confirmed end date of a pet sit, despite discussing this during the pre-sit interview.
Most owners are incredibly diligent, confirming both their departure and return details during early discussions.
We have been full-time sitters for almost two years, and encountered four instances of the owner returning one to three days early, three occurances concentrated in the past two months. It seems to these owners that the end date is negotiable, and likely that they had not planned or confirmed return travel until they were away.
This is a significant issue for full-time sitters like us, as it means needing to scramble to find alternate accommodation and adjust our travel plans.
We would love to hear if any other sitters have encountered this and how they’ve navigated it

@petshopgirls sorry to hear that you’ve had this experience . We just started with THS this year and it happened to us this is the thread where I posted about it .

Although it’s against the code of conduct I contacted member services but they declined to help other than tell me to write an honest review about the sit . Other forum members gave me good advice - but it was a very stressful situation. Sounds like this has happened to you more than once ?

We had to come home to our sitter a day early once, we were away on a sit ourselves and the home owners got their return date wrong! We were very apologetic and let our sitter stay as originally planned. She enjoyed some time at our house without the pet responsibilities, and qe had a lovely evening together.

Are you being asked to leave when the home owners are returning early? The home owners we were sitting for would not have turned us out if we’d been stuck, and in turn we didn’t expect our sitter to leave early either, but luckily we were only a few hours from home and it all worked out. I can see this could be very disruptive for anyone without a back up plan. Not sure there’s really anything THS can do if the owners are returning to their own home though tbh

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Thank you for your considerate message @Silversitters. We are sorry to learn that this worrying occurance has impacted you too, especially in your first year of pet sitting.
Hearing the similarities between the circumstances you experienced to ours, it seems that a more active Membership Services Team focus on combating this behaviour is necessary.
Stipulating that a home owners must reimburse some if not all of the additional incurred costs or temporary exclusions from the platform would go a long way to mitigating this destructive behaviour, if there is no reasonable and provable reason for the cancellation.
In an almost two year timeframe, this has occurred on four occasions, ranging from one night to fourteen. Considering our personal experience, it is quite a prevalent encounter.

Hi @petshopgirls
I’ve had it happen twice in 18 sits now. One the HO contacted me to say they wanted to change their plans and come back a week early. They said I could stay but it was a small property so I paid a fee to leave a week early. The next one came home for a few days in the middle of my sit due to a friend changing plans. The HO threw a party and I was fine as I was invited. Some sitters may not be comfortable if there was a dinner party with HO and 4 other guests with them.

@petshopgirls the cancellation insurance that comes with Premium membership does cover curtailment of a sit .

However there are several hoops to jump through for a claim for alternative accommodation to qualify for reimbursement.

Thankfully this has never happened to me in 46 cat sits so far.

One time, the HOs delayed their departure by 2 days but they were fine that I arrived as planned on the agreed date and we then shared the house for 2 days - it was a very pleasant experience as we ate together a few times and got to know each other without being in each other’s hair all the time. I also learnt how to make sourdough bread and a spinach & chard tart, both of which have become two of my favourite recipes. The HO gave me some of their sourdough starter which I use till today.


All of the sits I’ve offered have involved flights for me. Unless I just plain got it wrong when setting up the sit (which did happen to me for my holiday plans but I caught it before my sitter confirmed and we changed the dates), I can only imagine this happening if something very major had changed - illness/death in the family, some challenge with work that I could not change despite my best efforts, world events, I don’t even know what else - but if this did happen on one of my sits, I’d offer the sitter options, but any $ incurred as a result of the change I would assume would fall to me if I was the one making the sit shorter.

Hi @cat.tails
My first sit overseas I arrived for an overnight handover but the HO’s flight got cancelled due to wildfire strikes. They spent 2 extra days with me (sleeping on the couch as they set their bedroom up for me!) before moving to a hotel for a few days prior to their rearranged flight as they didn’t think it was fair to be around my feet!

We only started doing this earlier in the year and we’ve had it happen once but it was for a very good reason, it was a health matter, so no problem at all to us, as things like that are bound to only happen occasionally, plus they offered for us to stay anyway. But what you seem to be talking about is totally different, we haven’t come across that as yet.

I cancelled a sit very recently due to something similar. The dates the home-owner planned to be gone were shorter and changed several times from those listed in the advert. The HO also then decided that she may return home - if she got bored - a few days before the sit officially ended, but would not know for certain until those last few days. She assumed I would be fine with that because I could stay in the 2nd bedroom of her small home.

I also had a weekend sit, where the HO unexpectedly, and without apology, arrived back 7 hours earlier than scheduled - which is significant and disruptive for such a short sit. I would not sit for that person again.

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We agree entirely @HappyDeb, if this was infrequent and the reason was beyond both our and the home owner’s control, we would understand entirely.
Probably best going forward to ensure that the home owner is explicit about their return date, time and travel plans which the overwhelming majority of home owners fortunately are.

Your response is exactly as we would assume @belluca, thanks for sharing.
Unless for an extreme event, like bereavement, having a negotiable end date depending on the home owners travel convenience seems unfair.
A reimbursement for the incurred costs seems absolutely right, if an understandable reason is not given by the home owner.

Wow @cat.tails, that sounds like an especially positive pet sitting experience. Exactly what the community and members need!

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We have attempted to pursue this with the sit that was cancelled for over two weeks @Silversitters. It is quite a challenging process with lots of requirements to meet.
Seems like some defined conditions for start and end dates would offer the best security, particularly for overseas pet sit.

It is lovely to hear that your sits with earlier than anticipated end dates were two positive experiences @richten1, particularly the dinner party. Sounds like great fun!
Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for sharing your experience @Andalucia. From your description it seems like you were very fair to your sitters, and formed a memorable bond which is the essence of this community.
Unfortunately, we have not been so lucky in securing a pet owner as lovely as you this time.
This present sit has brought with it multiple challenges and this seems like the final crescendo to end what has been an unusual pet sitting experience, to put it mildly.
We would definitely welcome further and more defined rules for end dates which by nature should not be negotiable, which would be invaluable in situations like this one.

For any sitter who experiences this, please note it factually in your feedback for the sit, so other sitters will know.

Even for reasons that sound legit — such as health, accidents or other emergencies — please note in your feedback. That’s because none of us can verify reasons and, if someone is making up excuses, having such on file can help other prospective sitters and potentially prevent recycled, made-up excuses.

Including it in the pet sitter review is definitely important @Maggie8K, thank you.
It is important that sitters have an accurate background and overview of a sit before accepting.

Sorry to hear that you encountered the same occurrences as us @RosiePosie.
Home/pet owners believing that a sit end date is negotiable and on their own terms is disrespectful and lacks consideration for the sitter who has volunteered time to be a valuable carer to their pets and homes during their absence.
I hope to see some development from the Trusted Housesitters Team to avoid this happening as regularly as it is now.