Red Flags?

As a brand new member of the house/pet sitting community, I have loved sending off my applications and have been delighted to get a few confirmed sits. Obviously, I’ve also had my fair share of expected rejections too.

On another forum, I saw a sitter asking for advice for a new sitter. Quite a few responses were saying “Look out for red flags” “Don’t ignore red flags” etc but none said what the red flags to look out for actually are!

So that is my question - As a new sitter when making applications for sits. What ( if any) red flags should I be looking out for?

Thanks !

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For me anyway, red flags are usually something you read between the lines. Something about a sit that doesn’t add up. No feedback from previous sitters, lack of information or pictures - no pictures of house or pets. Feedback is just a one-liner or doesn’t actually say anything.

Once you apply for the sit and get more information from a HO which may contradict the original listing " our house is actually a bit remote " when the listing states it is central for all amenities. etc…

Everyone has their own version/opinion of the Red flag.

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Untidy and cluttered homes
Unkempt outside areas
Very brief descriptions
No mention of breed of dog

All self evident really but people still apply

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I recently did a 2 week sit at a very cluttered and messy house. It was okay, the dog was a delight, the location great - but the place could have been cleaner. The HO included in the posting - ’ “Clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy” :slight_smile: ’ I should have taken that to heart. And since it was in some ways a great sit, I actually quoted the HO in my feedback as a tip to other sitters to be aware.

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My red flags are lack of photos, cluttered spaces and lack of reviews.

But I also think twice when I read a listing with multiple mentions of keeping everything clean. I saw one recently that mentioned cleanliness in the original listing, description of the home and in the responsibilities. Plus they had a white carpet! I’m very neat and tidy but this type of sit would give me too much anxiety.

Lastly, we applied for a sit and after speaking to the homeowner, had to withdraw our application. She was very negative about all prior sitters and, even though we had excellent reviews, asked for contact information so she could verify things with previous homeowners. I just had the feeling that, no matter how good we were, she would have never been satisfied.

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For me, red flags also include mentions that the pet can’t be left alone for several hours and that the pet needs walks/care every two hours or has severe separation anxiety. I take many walks with the pets and give them lots of love and attention, but I also require some freedom to explore the area. I never apply for sits that would require you to be just about totally housebound. It may work for other sitters, but I need a better balance.

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The longer we housesit (3 years this autumn) the more I realize that pets and houses and locations are almost never an issue - it’s unrealistic expectations. The sitter/HO thing works when both sides are easy-going and reasonable. I’ve had to curb my tendency to control everything and I’m grateful when the homeowner knows that we do our best but we’re not clones of them.

So long as the pets are happy, it’s all good…

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:slight_smile: I just typed up almost this exact same thing.

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Red Flags for me:
HO who complain about previous sitters
Pets that can’t be left for more than an hour
Pets that are used to someone being home all day
Scant description of pets and routines, I like to know what HO are expecting
HO asking for a ‘contribution’ to bills during your stay.
Posts with not many photos

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Totally agree with you about unrealistic expectations. We are HO and live in a 300 yr old farmhouse on a working smallholding. We keep everything clean but it is not pristine. After one Sitter left a comment that it was not a luxury sit and after reading comments on this forum about cleanliness I will ensure any future ad is clear on this point. I have to admit the care for our animals is more important to us than the Sitter cleaning behind the stove!

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Thank you for mentioning your experience, Margaret. When a HO is clear that it’s a farm, it’s a bit silly to expect the home to be as clean as an operating theatre. Wipe down the bathroom, sweep the hay off the floor and call it good…

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We are more concerned about the animals than the cleanliness of the property. Yes, we would prefer it to be liveable in with maybe a hot tub, swimming pool and tennis court but as long as the pet owners love their pets and show us they are caring people, don’t care about keeping their white carpet clean and offer us a comfortable bed and a shower with decent pressure we are in heaven with maybe a fridge freezer and somewhere to wash our clothes.
Our experience is that the happy people are the messy people.
Elsie

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Good feedback here. I think it illustrates that red flags are relative to your needs. What is important to us and may stop us from applying or accepting a sit may seem perfectly reasonable to you. For example, photos with cats on the kitchen counter and dogs all over the sofa and beds might be a red flag for some but absolute heaven for others. You’ll learn what’s important in a sit for you, then carefully read posts and reviews, and ask follow-up questions until you can make a good decision.

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Hi Colin,
Some of the red flags I look out for are no photos of the interior of the home, a very vague description of the home or no reviews from
previous sitters. That’s fine if it’s one or two but if it’s a dozen something is wrong. Hope that helps.

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This sit raises many red flags for me & would never apply as per previous negative or any unpublished feedback. I’m offended by this sit

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This sit has been posted numerous times over the years and it seems to be more of a workaway type situation. According to some of the feedback, they require 15 hours of work per week, utilities paid and it sounds like the homeowners are on site for most of the time. It seems like they are looking for year round workers, not house/pet sitters. Quite frankly, I’m surprised they are allowed to keep posting this.

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All is relative. Not everyone is looking for the same thing. The description is clear and suggests that they are looking for “young couple” house keeper and the reviews of the sitters confirm this. This listing interests some sitters since there are applicants.
But clearly, this is not a classic pet sitting, so, sitters choose to apply or no.

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As said on many answers on this thread red flags are very personal. This sounds more like an experience than a pet sit which I for one would have probably applied for 10 years ago. Too old and probably too lazy these days.
We both like solitude, neighbours who leave you alone and I would have found forestry work very interesting, it’s only 15 hours a week and that includes walking the dogs - 2 hours a day. To be honest I probably spend more time attending to the animals on a “normal” sit.
As I have said many times on this forum, if you don’t like the sound of a particular sit jog on to the next one. No one is holding a gun to your head to apply. To say the sit offends you is a bit OTT. I’m offended when the sit entails looking after dogs who are locked up in a pen 22 hours a day and only walked 2 hours a day. Why have a pet if that’s the way you treat them? Yes, there are people out there who say they love their pets and treat them like that.
We are all individuals and wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we all wanted the same thing.

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Perhaps offended was the incorrect word there. I read how other sitters were treated & quite obvious the owners are too cheap to hire someone…

Just my ponders for the evening

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@ElsieDownie @Petermac I think the issue with this listing is the terminology. It is not really a housesit - it is clearly a working holiday experience. Although they seem transparent in their description of responsibilities , I don’t think THS is the right site for it to be advertised

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