San Francisco owners

For those in San Francisco that are getting house sitters for an extended stay (more than 30 days), how do you ensure the sitter does not obtain tenant or squatter rights?

Hi @7913417 what an interesting question, and how concerning that someone would do this in SF.

7 years ago I would say that you’d have no issues with this on THS but now, based on the chats in this forum, I see why that might be a concern.

During the initial conversation you can chat about home & careers to ensure they rent/ own their own home and plan to return (i.e. using THS as holiday accommodation). I find this is usually normal conversation as you get a feel for each other on the first call. Maybe you could share linkedin profiles (there’s an option to link from your THS profile to you airbnb/ linkedin profile — but I don’t do this, to protect my privacy).

THS used to offer a contract PDF for HO & sitter to sign, have a look for that on the site, contact member services, or see if there’s something online you can adopt to your sitting ‘contract’.

Interesting to see how this thread evolves!

A sitter would not be considered a tenant, I think. But here is a thread with more insights:

Might be useful:,hide%20your%20occupancy%20from%20anyone.

I just googled and these lawyers spell things out. Better to get this sort of info from legal types.

To be fair, there are horror stories involving Airbnb, sublettors, and roommates, so I wouldn’t be dismissive of people who have these concerns, nor would I take them personally as a sitter. I haven’t heard of this happening through Trusted Housesitters. Ways to avoid it: (1) Look for Housesitters with a lot of reviews – much less likely to suddenly decide to stay in your home. (2) Look for combined members – clearly property owners! (3) Do some extra vetting. know some sitters won’t like this but this is the world we live in whether you’re using a dating app or a cleaning service, or a petsitter. I am NOT suggesting asking for a driver’s license unless you need it for insurance and/or if you are loaning your car, but maybe get a last name or ask for something – linkedin if not provided, a workplace site that mentions them, etc. (4) Look for sitters who include Airbnb reviews and maybe even linkedin, so more evidence of ties to a community or even a job which they wouldn’t want to endanger.

In the recent Airbnb case in LA, the nightmare guest who wouldn’t leave, did in fact, have some shady history which probably could have been uncovered. Homeowners have a lot more control with THS than Airbnb hosts.


Hi @7913417 , and welcome to the forum. Are you a member of THS? If so, I wish you many good experiences, great care for your pet(s) and new friendships made. I would venture to say the chances of a sitter becoming a squatter are extremely small.

I found this at The San Franciso Tenants Union:

In San Francisco, there are no real “squatters’ rights,” such as a right to occupancy after 30 days of squatting. Some cities do have laws which say that if a squatter simply squats for 30 days, she then has acquired rights to the housing and is no longer a trespasser.

A person who refuses to leave a property in California is considered a trespasser and must acquire tenants’ rights to stay. To gain tenants’ rights, they need to be paying rent and have the landlord’s permission to live there. You can go to this website for more details.

In choosing your sitter, look for someone who is experienced with a number of good reviews. Learn a bit about them and their circumstances. Ask questions. It’s wise to have a video call, or at least phone call, to get to know them. A good, experienced sitter should leave you feeling at ease. Many owners have great experiences with long-term sitters.

Another option, although it’s out of the ordinary, is you can very gently tell the person you choose as your sitter that you are a little nervous as a first timer and ask if they’d be agreeable to signing an informal agreement that simply states the beginning and ending dates of the sit (for your comfort). You would have to play that by ear and I would tread very gently, as good sitters have their choice of homes and pets to sit and may go with someone who has more trust and experience.


I understand your concerns as a home owner trying to get to the “trusted” part of the arrangements. I feel you need to be careful in your vetting of sitters. You should look for sitters with a good deal of positive reviews and talk with them to get to know them before making the decision to turn your home and presumably pets to a stranger.
I do feel your concerns, while valid, are a little blown out of proportion.
What I do find absurd and even offensive is the recommendations a couple people have given you that you should only consider sitters that “have a home to return to”. Those of us who chose to travel full time and include pet sitting as part of our travels aren’t homeless, indignant, or looking for a home to squat in. We have incomes and aren’t broke. We are the sitters with the most flexibility and fill the most sits in a year of anyone and are among the most responsible sitters you’ll find. We’d love to do a longer sit in SF some day.
I’m sure you’d home is lovely but so are the 21 others we’ve sat for. I’m not sticking around after the sit is over because I have other places in the world to explore and 7 other sits 2 cruises and a vacation already booked.