Pros and cons of asking potential sitters for references

I am in the process of choosing a sitter from three who applied for my sit. I have always asked for references (I’ve had three prior sitters,) as I can get more detailed information about a prospective sitter than appears even in well-written reviews. I have never had any sitter refuse to give me references.

For this sit, I had a very good video interview with one of the potential sitters, and ended the conversation asking him to send me contact info for 2-3 references. The next day I got a text saying that he was withdrawing his sit application. When I asked why, he said that he felt that asking him for references indicated that I mistrusted him, and he wasn’t comfortable with that. He had three positive THS references and two external references and he felt that these were sufficient.

I’m curious about whether other homeowners ask for references.

Not a HO but wanted to offer a perspective as a sitter. You definitely have the right to ask for additional references, but you may find some sitters pass on the opportunity because of this.

This isn’t because it is an unreasonable request by any means, but many feel that their reviews speak for themselves, and speaking further with any of the HO’s shouldn’t be necessary.

I was asked for the first time a few months ago to provide contact information for a previous homeowner and I did pass on interviewing for the sit. At this point, we had over 60 reviews on our profile that spanned almost 10 years on the site. We were never asked to do this before, and could easily find a sit where we wouldn’t need to jump through this additional hoop.

For us, it wasn’t about being offended, or thinking it was inappropriate ,or anything like that. It is simply our belief in wanting to make this process as smooth and simple as possible. It wasn’t some sit I wanted to do more than anything in the world so not going to make extra work for myself. Intuitively I felt that perhaps we weren’t the best fit for her if even after seeing over 5 dozen verified reviews she needed additional assurance.

Again, requesting the reference is not wrong at all, and like you experienced, you will find plenty of sitters who will happily comply. But some people may be thinking similarly to myself and simply don’t want to take extra steps we don’t normally take. For those who are truly offended ,or take it personally, that is about them and nothing you did.


As an experienced home owner I’m not sure why you are asking for sitter references. Have they all been brand new sitters for you?

As experienced sitters with over 20 great reviews we would feel the same as your sitter if you asked us for further references. If you don’t trust our reviews enough, which really are references, that’s a red flag for us and we would not feel comfortable with you and would withdraw our application too.


Hello @MagicalFarm - i think the main reason he’s withdrawn is lack of trust on a site that’s called Trusted House Sitters. He has 5 people that tell you he’s great including three HOs, you like him yourself when you read his application, he’s been ID checked and, you also chat to him on a video call which goes really well. Then you still want two or three more third parties to validate his fit in some way for free pet & home care. That’s why he’s said thanks but no thanks, it’s not the sit for me. You’re asking too much.


Hi @MagicalFarm. I’m a sitter and not an HO (well, I haven’t had any sitters on TH yet). I hope you hear from some owners.

In the meantime, I wanted to give my two cents. First, I think you’re fully in your rights to ask for references. And if it’s worked well enough for you, then that makes sense. However, there are a few reasons I personally side with your potential sitter in this case.

  1. If you are going to ask/require references, then you should say that in your listing. That way, those who don’t like that won’t waste their time (or yours).
  2. If I’m renting a room or applying for a job, sure I expect people to ask for references. But in this case, TH literally has references. Before even one’s first sit, one can have external references. And afterward, we have reviews, which are even better, right?
  3. In the case of asking for references, imagine instead of my 3 external references that are already there, I simply gave you their contact info as references. I’m guessing that would satisfy you, but now I’ve just wasted a lot of people’s time. You have to contact them, and they have to reflect on pet/house care that may have happened some time ago. And if every potential HO does this for my references, that is reinventing the wheel.
  4. I don’t think people put much stock in external references on TH, and similarly, I don’t think we should put much stock in the references you’re asking for. Most people can find 2–3 people who can “vouch” for their character/abilities, even if they’re dishonest.

I can see your side, that in addition to interacting with the applicant, you want to interact with others (the references). That makes sense. I guess it comes down to how badly I want to sit for you. If there are competing sits and I won’t have to bother my friends/references multiple times, then I’ll just apply there.

I have never heard of other pet owners asking for additional references, either on the forums or in my sits. So if you still want to ask for references, please mention that in your listing, so that applicants aren’t surprised later.


I really appreciate the feedback. Thank you for providing an alternative perspective to my way of thinking.


Totally unnecessary for you to be asking for 2-3 more references. So the sitter had paid subscription, wrote a profile, wrote you a cover application, has precious sit experience with reviews, had a video call with you and now you want them to go and bother 3 other people to write a long reference because you don’t trust the process.

Sorry - how much more time needs to be wasted? Now you need 3 more peoples time to be wasted writing references and the sitter owing them a favour. This is not normal process and you know that but are insisting anyway.

I would have turned it down too as you’re asking for too many hoops and you sound distrustful. In answer to your question no, other homeowners do not ask sitters for additional references.


HO here - I haven’t asked for additional references, and I can only see doing that in a situation where I was on the fence about a new sitter with few or no reviews. Or maybe if it was for a multi-month sit? Then again, I don’t want to put myself through all that additional work, let alone the sitter.

I agree with others that there’s nothing wrong with asking, and there are probably a lot of sitters who will turn down the sit because of it.


I’d skip your sit if asked for references, because plenty of sits are available without additional hoop-jumping. Most THS sitters probably would likewise.

In your case, you have more animals than typical sits, which already makes it tougher for you to land applicants. You will further narrow that candidate pool with a request for additional references.

Of course, you need to comfortable with your decision. If you’re not with the THS model, you might be better off hiring professional sitting services, ones with insurance and such. They might also be willing to provide references, since you’d be paying.


Completed 90 odd THS sits and have never been asked for a reference (not even in the early days) and I wouldn’t want to waste people’s time when they have already done what they are asked to do via the website so I would have also declined at this stage. Many years ago I was looking at signing up to another service and they asked for all contact owners details for all the sits I’d done by that time and I decided to pass on the whole thing as it was going to be such an imposition on the owners spanning 5+ years back.

I think I’ve once asked for references as an HO on another platform as there was less structure/assurance but the whole experience was super awkward and as someone said I had no way of knowing it was all legit or just a friend doing the HS a favour.


Hmmm…I wasn’t aware that my previous sitters hadn’t posted reviews. I’ll ask them to. And…how do I see the sitter reviews?

I’m puzzled. When I look at my listing, I see feedback from my previous sitters. Maggie8K - you’re not able to see it? Should I ask administrative support for help or…?

Hello @MagicalFarm we can see two 5 :star: star reviews from your last two sitters :+1:t3:

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I agree with you @Crookie, I would be withdrawing my application too and after 65 sits have never once been asked for references. @MagicalFarm, when I first started out I had references from friends I’d housesat for and they appeared to be enough for the owner taking me on.


I think it was a glitch, because I’m on the app and can see them now.

@MagicalFarm I am interested to know what would you specifically learn from further references that you cannot already see in the reviews and references available on THS platform ?

This is a genuine question as I am a sitter and I am wanting to understand your perspective .


It is lovely of you to ask. I genuinely believe you might not want to cause any inconvenience. That said. Think about it that way: if all home owners did the same, every single home owners would be asked to give references every time their old sitter wanted to do a new sit. Because you are the exception (thankfully, and I say that with much respect, because the system works really well with written reviews and I’m sure you didn’t think of it as being a lack of trust), pet owners don’t need to go through this every time.
I also would suggest writing it in your listing to avoid wasting your time and other potential sitters’ time.
I’m not sure how a pet owner would feel about being asked for an extra reference ((call or email) after having left a review. I’m sure you wouldn’t mind being asked multiple times to refer your old sitters but maybe not everybody is on the same page. I’d never agree to that for sure! I’d tell my old pet sitters to find maybe someone a little less high maintenance as my time is precious and so is theirs.
I hope this doesn’t come across as mean, but after 49+ sits and countless reviews, I would simply not have any interest. Let’s not forget that employers willing to pay future employees will give a long term (usually) contract to their future employees and in most industries, giving a reference to an ex employee is normal business practice. Not all companies have a review system in place for explorers and employees, and not all of them are on glass door, google reviews, etc. (Which is enough for me to know if a company is worth working for or not.)
For trusted house sitters, I hope it doesn’t become like that otherwise I’m out. And I know a lot of my fellow old timers will be out as well.


Thank you all for your - unanimous - feedback. As a fairly new HO, I didn’t realize that asking for references was such an imposition on a sitter as well as a violation of THS culture. As a community volunteer, I’ve always been asked for references for any volunteer work that involved me going into a client’s home, (tutoring, Meals on Wheels, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and others.) The organizations wanted to talk with my references, even if I had written references. It simply never occurred to me NOT to do the same for a house sitter.

I will not be asking for references from now on.


We’re sitters. You are fully in your rights to ask but sorry I’d respond the same. Sorry if that sounds harsh. The facts are:-

He’s already got THS reviews.
You video chatted and trusted your intuition to pick him.
You knew his story of why he is on this site from his profile.
THS has 17000 reviews on TrustPilot, most of which rate this site as 5*.
So, the majority of 17000 must have had at least one great experience.
He’s been ID checked by THS.
He’s sitting for free.
He’s got another 2 reviews from elsewhere (flimsier though that may be).

We are on THS because we LOVE animals and travel and mix the two, NOT for money, because we don’t get paid and we cover our own travel costs to where ever a sit takes place.

We have found THS to be a feel-good site, a friendly site, we’ve formed real friendships with the owners we have sat for on here. 17000 peoples opinions can’t all be wrong. He’s not your employee, he’s not being paid, it’s built on a mutual respect for one another.

If anyone asked us for additional references we would feel they didn’t trust us with their pet or their home and therefore wouldn’t feel comfortable in their home, and it would end there and then.

Relax and let go of your doubts, trust your intuition about each sitter… but also have a little trust in the way the platform is designed.

You shouldn’t have wasted his time video’ing with him without saying you wanted extra references beforehand. You need to write that in your profile, but I would imagine you’ll receive way less applicants when sitters think you aren’t open to trusting them from the outset.

I’m curious, what did you hope to see or discover in the additional references that wasn’t already given in the reviews on here?


Trust your intuition, you’ll probably know which sitter is right for you before you even video chat with them. You’ll know-know when the right person comes along. :heart: