Owner told me another sitter offered to pay utilities?


I’m a professional pet sitter so I usually get paid for my services outside of TH. Recently, I favorited a listing and heard from the owner ( I hadn’t applied) stating that I’d be perfect, etc and offering me a sit.

The owner really wanted to do a Zoom- which they recorded? And during it they mentioned another potential sitter who had supposedly contacted the HO and offered to pay for the utilities?

By the way the HO stressed this, I felt like was subtly pressuring me to also do the same and I wasn’t comfortable with it, on top of paying for the expensive flight etc and taking time off of work.

The HO kept saying how expensive their travel is and also the cost of utilities where the HO lives, etc. Which I do understand but I can’t tell if the HO is pulling a bait and switch?

Their ad doesn’t mention anything about paying to take care of their home and pets. So this was a shock to hear.

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HUGE red flag, on so many levels.

Trust your gut.


Run like the wind :dash:


Technically THS allows hosts to ask sitters to contribute to utilities, but I have never been asked to do this. Usually, this is for sits that are long term, but there is no rule as to when they can or can’t ask this. But most would need the utilities on to keep their pets comfortable, so few would ask this. It seems like a big red flag. I would only do this if it would be a really easy sit that required little of my time in an expensive location that I really wanted to visit. I would also want the host to have several stellar reviews from other sitters. Good luck.


I hope you went on an on about how expensive your flight is to get there and how you have to take time off work… hint hint😂
No, this is a red flag. It should be mentioned upfront. Why didn’t they go with the other sitter then? Sounds like they want the best of sitters and a contribution to their holidays.

But maybe, just maybe, they want to make sure that you don’t cancel on them and are telling you it already cost them a lot of money which they don’t want to forfeit.


Of the dozens of sits we have done, I can only recall a couple where we were responsible for paying utilities. In these cases the HO did not state we would be responsible upfront.

They were in countries where costs were very low so when they mentioned how to handle payment of the bill we just let it slide and didn’t make a big thing of it. I didn’t attribute any bad intentions to them for not disclosing this. I think that just as we assumed it was natural for the HO to typically cover bills, they naturally assumed the opposite.

In our experience of dozens upon dozens of sits–with the exception of these two cases from quite awhile ago–if a HO doesn’t mention anything about utilities or other bills specifically in the listing or interview, then they are not expecting the sitter to handle them, and it isn’t even something we think to ask about.

In your instance, it sounds like she wasn’t initially expecting such a contribution but because another sitter offered, she thought perhaps it is something she could get a sitter to agree to.

And as for the recording, as someone who uses Zoom for my work, there is a setting to automatically record meetings so it is possible that is what happened there, and she wasn’t consciously choosing to record it for any particular reason.

That she seemed to be trying to guilt you into it is off putting and that would be more of a red flag for me than the sheer fact of asking.

Generally speaking, I don’t think sitters should be responsible for many of these costs because the HO would be paying them anyway, in a similar, or exact same amount, if they were there. But the idea the sitter is responsible isn’t outright wrong, it is just a different way of looking at the situation that most sitters probably don’t share.

Though in some instances I think it’s a reasonable request and a sitter can decide if it’s okay with them or not.

For example, if there is a HO who virtually never uses their air conditioning and is not accustomed to a large electricity bill, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to request the sitter contribute to the bill or cover it in full if they will be there longer term and are someone who wants to run it as much as they want to remain comfortable.

I recall interviewing for a sit awhile back where the HO stated they didn’t use the AC a lot, and I was very clear that I would be happy to contribute to the bill if we used it more frequently–the sit didn’t end up happening so not sure if she would have taken me up on that offer. It was a very hot climate and I wanted to be comfortable and not worry about whether I was using it too much.

I am not totally opposed to taking a sit where a HO would want us to cover costs, but of the sits that stand out in my mind where I have seen this request, these costs were always at least several hundred dollars a month and that wasn’t worth it to me.

Unless it was some really unique opportunity, I don’t see the need to spend that extra money when I could easily find another assignment where I wouldn’t be expected to pay anything.


If your reaction was shock, it was because it was a nervy ask — they contact you unsolicited and try to press you into paying for utilities by saying that someone else offered. In your place, I’d say, thanks, sounds like you’ve already found a sitter more obliging than I am.

And FWIW, in many jurisdictions, it’s illegal to record anyone without their explicit permission. If you ever are being recorded, you can always decline.


If it’s a short sit , definitely not. We did a long, overseas sit, and were asked if we would mind contributing to the electricity bill if we went over what the owner would usually pay. They showed us their usual bill, and as we really wanted this sit, we agreed to it, but we didn’t go over, so paid nothing. I have read horror stories of how the owners came back to a bill three times higher than usual. But I definitely wouldn’t agree to pay ALL of the bill.


I heard a story where the owners were contacted by their electricity company after two weeks because suddenly the power consumption had increased so much.

To be honest, As THS rules state that home hosts can ask for a contribution for utilities the home hosts in this instance did nothing wrong.

It only needs us as sitters to agree or to politely say that it is not something that we do. - No harm done :grinning:

@Colin they can ASK. But they shouldn’t hint - this seems backhanded.


Welcome @Professional -although it doesn’t happen often , the THS code of conduct does allow homeowners to ask for contributions to utility bills. Nothing wrong in them asking , equally nothing wrong in you refusing .

Did they give you an indication of the how much they are expecting to cover utilities?

When making your decision ask yourself will I be disappointed if I miss out on this sit because I wasn’t willing to contribute to the utilities? Or will I feel that homeowner is taking advantage of me by expecting me to contribute in addition to taking care of their home and pets?

Every sitter has to make their own decision based on their own circumstances, but it’s not wrong for a homeowner to talk about this - provided the sit has not been confirmed yet.

I can understand that having been used to being paid to sit , that the concept of having to pay ( airfare/ Utilities) to sit is not sitting well with you . It has to be a mutually beneficial exchange , so this might not be the best sit for you unless it’s a destination that you have longed to go to and have no other way of staying there.

Considering alternatively they’d be paying for petcare if there wasn’t a sitter I wouldn’t feel comfortable paying or being asked, unless it was a longer sit (Over a month).

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This is a huge red flag.

Personally we feel that our level of service as a sitter more than covers the inclusion of all bills.

I don’t really think it’s reasonable to expect someone to pay to look after your animals regardless of how long the sit is.

3 days or 3 months it all involves taking on a lot of responsibility.


Totally agree that it is very cheeky to invite someone - especially a professional pet sitter - to a sit and then hint that they should pay for utilities. That would be unacceptable to me.


Yes. THS allows HOs to ask for utilities payments, but the circumstances and how and when a HO asks matter.

A transparent listing would include reference to payments if a HO expects them. And pressuring someone is different from a straightforward ask.

For instance, it’s perfectly within THS guidance to ask a sitter to give your cat medical injections, but if a HO tried to pressure someone into doing it, that would be concerning.

The key thing is: Just because something isn’t banned doesn’t mean that it’s OK to pressure someone to do it, or to ask in whatever manner you please. There are plenty of posts of HOs whose approaches raise red flags even though they’re not banned practices.

We’re strangers to one another. When you’re interacting, everyone’s reading signals for how you behave — are you a straightforward, trustworthy person? That’s always going to be in question with mutual screening.

To me, if how you raise something is questionable even at the outset, then I’d wonder about what else might emerge as a problem later.


@Professional Recording the Zoom meeting would have have been enough of a red flag for us to back out of that conversation.

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@Professional I think it would be easier if THS could have a rule about this as part of the T&C the same as the no interior cameras or 3rd parties. Then HOs wouldn’t ask and sitters wouldn’t need to worry about what to day

Ba- bye. That’s sort of creepy.

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I would politely decline. The heating is used for the benefit of their pets as well as mine. I am already paying for my flight and taking holidays from work for the travel days, so the least they can do is pay for the utility bills. I think asking is cheeky and it shows what kind of petty person they are. If they can’t afford the electricity bills, then they should put their pets in a kennel