Owners Charging Sitters Utilities

Owners should be required to disclose their intention to make sitters pay utilities. This should be listed in Responsibilities in the ad. Otherwise, the owner can recruit top sitters like myself, and keep their intent to have me pay, as a bargaining chip in the application process.

I have been providing housesitting services on this site for many years. I have never seen an owner say in the ad they require the sitter to pay. This topic came up in 2021, and the forum moderator said the owner is in breach of terms, unless they disclose required payment from sitters in their ad.

Today when I filed a formal complaint about an owner doing this to me, staff for this company told me they do not require owners to disclose required payment from sitters in ads, but it must be discussed upfront. This allows them to get sitters to apply without knowing at the time of application.

Trusted Housesitters has an obligation to protect sitters from being recruited to sit for an owner who expects payment, but is not forthcoming in the ad about it. I would never accept a housesit for someone who is not totally up front in the ad.

If you agree with me that the company should instate a requirement for full disclosure of all required payments by owner in every ad, please weigh in here. This is serious for those of us who are booking lots of sits.

7 Likes

I agree. If an owner requires payment (i e contribution to utilities) I would expect to read this in the listing and then I would not apply. If this came up as a requirement during the interaction over the sit I would refuse and would immediately withdraw as it would feel somehow underhand. I would feel tricked. HOs should definitely be upfront about such requirements as it is not usual in a THS sit exchange.

9 Likes

Completely agree. I’m actually shocked that THS does not require payments to be in the listing, I was under the impression that it was required. I would be very upset if I took the time to apply to a listing and it was later disclosed that they expect payment. I would immediately withdraw my application. Any expected costs to the sitter should be required by THS to be clearly stated in the listing.

Does THS require this to be disclosed prior to the sit being confirmed?

1 Like

It should absolutely be in the listing and like I have stated before, if HOs were required to post their listing in a form style instead of free writing, these issues wouldn’t become an issue.

-Will sitters need to pay for utilities? Y/N
-Will you reimburse sitter for travel costs? Y/N
-Is your pet potty trained? Y/N
-Will you need sitter to come the day before the sit? Y/N.
-Do you expect sitter to deep clean the house before departure? Y/N
-How many hours can the dog be left alone? 1-2hrs, 2-4hrs, 4-6hrs

So many problems and miscommunication happens because HOs just free write and some people really leave alot of stuff out because they don’t think about it. If it’s form style, they would have to be required to “mark” the right answer before it can get posted

8 Likes

No, and that is what I am saying in this post.

I do appreciate your support but do not agree about the form questions. We think it would eliminate being aboe to get a feel for the owner and their communication abilities. I do not like the idea of having that question be posted on a form about paying utilities because owners would start asking a lot more often. It would set a precedent. I wish they would not allow owners to charge sitters. We cannot charge them for our travel or even ask for a tip!!

4 Likes

Why should HOs pay for travel that you chose to undertake? If you ask to stay in my home, you have opted to incur travel costs voluntarily. If you don’t like those costs, don’t apply for the sit.

1 Like

From my experience of doing dozens of sits, I think HO’s who would expect contributions to utilities–which I don’t really consider the same as some sort of fee or payment to stay in the home–are quite rare.

I do agree that if a HO does want this, it should be in the listing as many sitters do not consider applying for such assignments and it is good to know upfront. If a HO doesn’t mention this until they have begun communicating with a prospective sitter, in most cases, I don’t think they were trying to be sneaky in some way. I do my best to give people the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t think THS should ban HO’s from requesting contributions as it isn’t flat out wrong, just another way of looking at the situation. Albeit, this perspective is not shared by most sitters nor most HO’s as the vast majority don’t seem to request this. But some sitters may be okay with it and if they are, the two parties can work out the details.

In some instances, it might be reasonable to request contributions, such as if the HO is on a stricter budget and does not run their A/C a lot but the sitter wants the ability to run it as often as they would like to be comfortable.

I appreciate that THS tries to set certain policies and conditions to help the experience be better for both parties, and I know people would like to them to be more involved in certain respects or set more rules.

But ultimately, they are a platform to connect people looking for a service with those interested in providing it, and most elements of the sit should be left to be negotiated between those two parties.

4 Likes

I remember seeing that HOs are only allowed to charge fees when the sit doesn’t have pets. Would someone clarify this for me?

Hi @systaran. Yes, the Code of Conduct does require Pet Parents to ensure all requirements, including any costs, be agreed to between the parties prior to confirmation of the sit.

3 Likes

I agree with @KC1102. Based on my experience being asked to contribute towards utilities is very rare. In all my sits, including multi-month sits in cold winter places and hot summer areas, I’ve never been asked to chip in.

I have seen some listings that mentioned wanting sitters to help pay the utility costs. And there are situations where some sitters may be willing to chip in on the utilities. Here’s a thread where some sitters talk about times when they’ve chipped in and why they were ok with that.

The bottom line is all requirements must be agreed to prior to the sit being confirmed. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

7 Likes

I personally would withdraw my application and believe HOs should be held responsible for this behavior. But if it is upfront it is less egregious.

I think if a HO reaches out to a sitter directly and the sitter wants to set certain expectations they should be allowed to do so.

Hi @denniscnewman. My guess is that it doesn’t matter if there are pets or not. I’ve submitted the question to membership services but am now off for the evening, and I won’t be back in the forum until the weekend. @Therese do you know?

Yes they say it should be “arranged, negotiated and agreed upon between both members, prior to a sit being confirmed“

1 Like

The FAQ says a Pet parent can ask for contributions to utilities. Not FEES

If the sit is in a desirable location over a long period with straightforward pet care duties I guess the homeowner will get applicants who are willing to pay a contribution to utilities. At the end of the day we all have a choice whether to apply or not but any costs should definitely be transparent up front.
If I remember correctly when I joined as a sitter ten years ago sitters were allowed to charge. I recall some listings showing ‘sits for free’ and others that didn’t. Not sure how that worked or when the policy changed.

1 Like

While I agree with you, of course, the other question to ask is Why should sitters pay for utilities that you chose to have connected? If you ask us to stay in your home, you have opted to pay your utility costs voluntarily. If you don’t like those costs, don’t list the sit.

3 Likes

Hi @Twitcher
I just wanted to set the record straight, that right from the beginning, sitters were not allowed to charge. The ethos of the website, has always been that sitters sit for the free accommodation with the love of pets.

I do remember that little badge ‘sits for free’ and at the time, I think, there was a bug that didn’t expand it to all the profiles, hence maybe the confusion.

1 Like

Hi all. I’ve received comfirmation from Membership Services that the owner needs to include an indication in the listing that they want the sitter to help pay for utilities.

Something like “We would expect the sitter to contribute / cover their electricity usage” or “Any excess heating will be covered by the sitter” would be sufficient.

@denniscnewman it doesnt matter if or how many pets are being cared for. The policy is the same.

4 Likes

Thank you!