Paying for sitting (utilities)

I came across a pet sit that interested me but the pet owner required that the pet sitter pay for “electricity” during the stay. Isn’t that against the THS rules? I don’t know how the owner could even determine how much electricity the sitter used or how they would collect this fee.

It’s not against the rules, but it should be.

How long is your sit?

@JennyBinVIRGINIAUSA Welcome! And it is allowed by THS rules to request a payment for utilities if it is fully disclosed in their listing. Personally, I can’t see doing that unless it was a long sit with no pets-just house sitting. Otherwise, I feel it’s an mutual exchange that doesn’t require any payment. I skip right over those sits.

The only thing that I would agree to is to pay for excess use of energy, the kWh in excess of what they used in corresponding months of other years.

(Some sitters are wasteful with heat or cooling, leave windows open, do not wear sweaters when it is cold.)

In a real big old house (castle), that might still get expensive if a winter was exceptionally harsh.

It is a mutual exchange, so if they do not feel like they’re getting the value of having a human being in their home while they are away, it’s not going to be good fit; send the pets to a kennel.

I disagree that any “overages” are subject to repayment.

assuming a human requires a certain comfortable temperature range, then it is not really fair to have someone in your home without allowing them to adjust the temperature to their own comfort. Also, if the pets are staying in the home, wouldn’t they also require comfortable temperatures? It’s absurd to have to pay utilities for any period of time.

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I know a lot of sitters have strong feelings about this. I feel that at least at this stage of my life when I’m mostly doing short sits as getaways, I probably wouldn’t consider a sit where I’m being asked to pay for utilities. However, if I were looking at one month or longer where the homeowner asked for a contribution to internet, electric, etc, I would not rule it out at all. Maybe it comes from being in a city where a “sublet” that includes taking care of the leaseholder’s pets is not uncommon. I can understand someone feeling like, “Not for me.” But I think there is room on THS for all sorts of arrangements.

I haven’t yet been interested in a sit that requires paying for utilities. I’d rather see it not be allowed, so I probably would not apply.
I you are still interested maybe you can negotiate the price if they are wanting you to sit. You can inquire about the price with an application.

@Smiley one step away from allowing sitters to ask for payment or compensation.

I’m mystified that there are sitters who won’t ask for (insist upon?!) reimbursement of expenses required to care for the pets or clean the house.

On the other side of the coin, I’d endorse a program that outlined a way for homeowners in remote areas, with lots of pets, demanding pet care, or other such issues to incentivize a sit, to sweeten the deal.

It could be a grocery gift card or even reimbursement of a percentage of travel expenses if cash feels icky.

It seems that THS would cancel the sitter’s membership.

Yes, it is surprising, especially when HOs invite selected sitters.

Or take the pets with you. I personally don’t trust kennels and other dog owners might not either. But I think asking for someone to pay utilities while they’re looking after your dog and home is ridiculous. If one is afraid of high bills, then just take the pet with you like we did for a month in Guatemala.

If I hadn’t been able to take my dog with me and needed a sitter, I would just kindly ask the sitter during our initial call if they’re comfortable in low temperature weather. I’d they agree to the sit I would also ask to make sure to turn off the lights, refrain from using the fireplace (ours is gas) to avoid high bills. If the sitter didn’t agree or respect that then I would have an issue.

I always found this to be odd. If sitters are required to pay their own expenses to get to the sit, why is there even a rule that they can negotiate the utilities. I know some sitters won’t mind paying for electricity but I wish there were clear cuts rules

I would not consider applying for the sit. If the owners were home wouldn’t they be using electricity to keep themselves and their pets warm?
Perhaps the owners should weigh up what they are saving on kennelling fees?

@pietkuip I think what this is saying is that they would ask to be reimbursed if they had to buy kitty litter, pet food, or house cleaning supplies if the host did not have adequate supplies on hand. I would certainly hope that THS would not cancel a sitter’s membership for this. It is not the same as asking for payment for the sit.


Yes! Noodles was an excellent travel companion but she only came with us on car trips. I never wanted to put her in the cargo hold of a plane and she was too big to go under a seat

Oh yeah, plane rides are no bueno for bigger doggos. Mine is 7 lbs so he met the requirements, but also… I don’t know if I could be away from my dog for a whole month! I probably wouldn’t travel anywhere other than places I could drive to if I couldn’t fly with him.

I wouldn’t accept that sit!!. NOPE!!

You often can see what “normal” energy consumption is on utility bills. So theoretically you and a HO could agree that you’d pay “overages.” Depends on how much you want the sit.

Personally, I don’t see why I’d ever agree to pay a HO anything on THS. If the home and pet care aren’t a worthwhile exchange for them, there are countless other sits available where HOs appreciate the value of the trade. Plus, wouldn’t they want to keep their pets comfortable?

And as someone with two homes, I can tell you that even when our other house is vacant, we keep the central air on the whole time. That’s because empty homes start to smell funny or stale, or get humid, or you risk pipes bursting, depending on the weather. And if its location has mild weather, then charging for utilities seems even chintzier.


Hey there!
This actually happened to me during a sit - (on a different platform, not THS) - and the HO did NOT disclose this information before I agreed to the sit. They had explained that the gas & electric ran on a card meter system which had to be topped up, but that they would ensure there would be enough on the card at least for the first week, and that if/when I needed to top-up, they would fully reimburse me. They even stated this on the document they sent outlining pet care instructions before I arrived, so I thought it would all be fine. When I arrived at the sit, however, I found the card almost empty, and so I got on a call with the HO because I wasn’t quite clear on how to top it up (HO had already left when I arrived, neighbours gave me the key). The HO told me on the call that they expected me to pay for half the bills, and said they expected it of past sitters as well (though no past sitter comments mentioned anything about it.) It was the middle of winter, snowing, absolutely FREEZING in the house and they also asked that I used the radiators sparingly. In addition, the house was kinda falling apart, and was in a super dodgy neighbourhood that made me feel rather unsafe at times. I lasted about a week and left early (the pets were fine, the HO got a friend to care for them). It was the worst sit I’ve ever done, and I haven’t used that sitting website since.

So. In answer to your question, if you have agreed to pay utility bills, (which in my opinion nobody should when house-sitting), but if you do agree, just be careful and clarify how much you will pay and when. People who expect a sitter to pay bills may be quite tight with money, which may not feel very nice for a sitter, or possibly be a bit stingy, especially in a situation where there is no contract or anything and it’s easier to take advantage of people. So I’d say just be careful and aware that people can be a bit nasty when it comes to money! Of course they could also be perfectly nice & kind people too, but I think if you’re asking a sitter to pay bills, it may be a bit of a red flag!
Hope that helps!

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