Sitters who repeatedly cancel sits?

@Chrissie this does seem to be a practical solution to the problem of sitters who cancel without a valid reason.

I’m not suggesting this would be applied for all cancellations . Only to the cancellations where a sitters says they have to cancel because they are no longer available due to illness, family emergency etc then the dates get blocked out .

•No negative impact on a sitter who is genuinely unable to sit due to unavoidable circumstances.
•No one has to decide if the reason given is genuine or not - saving time .
•It would discourage someone from cancelling a sit because a better one has been offered.

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I still feel it’s a problematic precedent to set. Would you require proof of a death in someone’s family, for example? It would be awful to put someone (host or sitter) through that. I sound like a broken record but the current system has been working. By disclosure from your team here there are not a high number of cancellations. The trust in Trusted Housesitters is what makes this a great community. Anyone who has been a member of other sites can attest to the difference in quality here. Whenever someone asks me why join here it’s one of the main things I note. And by the way, I’ve had 6 referrals join in the last year.

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@HostAndSitter That’s fantastic and I am so happy to hear that THS has worked out well for you and your friends. The forum is here so that members can discuss their thoughts on a variety of topics related to the platform, travel and pets. Thank you for being a member and for sharing your thoughts.

Here’s another thread you might enjoy reading as well as sharing your perspective.

Ok, thanks. Have I missed your response on the topic of cancellation notifications?

There should be a record on both sides. I had 2 homeowners cancel on me and since I do back to back sits with a family of 5 it’s really difficult to replace the dates. Both times I reached out to membership services and they told me to just apply for other sits and did not do anything else for me.


@Angela_L : Are cancellations by homeowners/hosts also documented and investigated too, or just cancellations by sitters? I have never cancelled or been cancelled, but it seems that both sides need to take the commitment seriously and be treated equally. It is a huge hardship for many sitters if the sit is cancelled after they make travel arrangements and they are cancelled for reasons like “we decided to get our neighbor to check in on the cats”, etc.


If this situation is as rare as the moderator has stated it is, then I don’t see any reason to implement any sort of ‘system’ to deal with the issue. I suspect anything done would likely just cause problems in various forms.

If the site does track cancellations carefully as stated, then it seems they are able to identify potentially problematic sitters and they can deal with them how they see fit.

How would you really be able to prove a ‘justified’ cancellation over one that isn’t? How much personal information would a sitter be required to divulge to a housesitting site? When I cancelled a sit a few years ago --that happened to not be from THS–because my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and needed us to come back to help her with treatment, would I need to submit her medical records?

While on the surface, blocking a sitter who cancels from booking similar dates may seem like a good idea, that really isn’t an appropriate response either .

I am a full time sitter with no permanent residence. If I needed to cancel scheduled sits because a family member in my home state of NJ needed help after recovering from a medical procedure for example, I would first look for sits in the area before resorting to an expensive rental. With this rule I would be prohibited from doing so. While an example like mine is probably rare, it just illustrates how a lot of these solutions are not practical.

I appreciate that THS does its best to really create a good experience for both sides, and they do a lot of things that other housesitting sites do not do–the size of its membership, many of the features it offers, and its ‘dominance’ do make it different than these other sites in many ways.

But even with all these ‘extras,’ at the end of the day it is nothing more than a platform to connect people looking for a service with those willing to provide it. Both sitters and homeowners need to recognize this and manage expectations accordingly.

They can do identity checks and background checks to give HO’s some peace of mind, but ultimately, they cannot truly vouch for anyone who joins the site. They are not an agency personally vetting members and directly facilitating the matches. It really isn’t a ‘community’ of any kind.

They can do things like monitor cancellations and other problematic behaviors of members, and remove them from the platform. They can suggest that HO’s do certain things to prepare the home. They can state all sorts of rules and policies.

But the end of the day, there is very little they can directly do about cancellations on either end, dirty houses, and various ‘breaches’ of policy that are well-meaning but ultimately cannot really be ‘enforced’ in any meaningful way.

There are numerous reasons why a HO may need to cancel their trip, and while this can certainly pose a number of challenges for the sitter, the onus is on us to have back up plans, to accept this reality and be flexible. We have to accept this may result in lost money or the need to spend money we didn’t anticipate spending. THS really can’t do much about this.

There is risk in everything, and HO and sitters alike must accept this. It’s unfortunate if a HO books a flaky sitter who will end up cancelling or a sitter who does a bad job. It is unfortunate if a sitter finds themselves in a situation that is very different than what was presented to them, or unsuitable living conditions.

But these sorts of experiences are great learning opportunities and usually help both sides minimize the chances of having them again.

But I really think most of the time it works out well all around, and the vast majority of sits go well. I believe the vast majority of houses are in perfectly livable condition. As stated above, cancellations by sitters are pretty rare. Most sits turn out to be as expected, and many ‘problems’ are generally of a smaller nature.

I imagine cancellations by HO’s are pretty rare too–having done over 60 unique sits on THS since 2014, several repeats as well as sits booked on other sites, I have had maybe 3 or 4 get cancelled.

Forums like this are great in many ways, but like any other forum, they tend to be frequented by a small percentage of a particular community, and many of the topics and experiences shared are skewed towards the negative. This obviously creates the impression that certain problems and bad experiences are more common than they actually are.

Again, THS is great and I am so grateful for all the opportunities it has afforded me over the years. I think sometimes people expect too much of the site, and want those who run it to play a role in the process they really can’t play and probably shouldn’t in many instances.

Very well said @KC1102 and I agree totally.

How does THS track sitter cancellations? We have had two cancel by text and we unconfirmed them so it may look like we, the HO changed our minds when in fact, they cancelled.

We have had a total of three cancellations and we have only been on the site a few months. One was just a couple of weeks ahead of the sit (jury duty :roll_eyes:), another was a few months out (decided travel was too expensive for the length of the sit) and we got one today for a June sit (illness), just 4 weeks away. These are all from sitters with several great reviews but since we can’t review them for cancelling, no one will know they bailed out.

To date, we had one local sitter come for a weekend in March, our May sitter cancelled and we were able to find a replacement who is there now, our June sitter just cancelled so we have to try again to replace them and we had to replace a cancelled sitter for October. Not very good percentages so far.


Hi @Elly-Andy-NOLA, that is so very disappointing for you where you are new members. I hope you had video calls with all your sitters before confirming.
I looked at your listing and I notice you didn’t leave a review for your March sitter and she didn’t leave feedback for you. As both of you are new members, you might not realise the importance of doing this for each other so I suggest you review her and request feedback from her.
Wishing you well in obtaining dedicated sitters for your next set of dates.


Perhaps another option might be like Airbnb, where it might show under the review tab: host (or sitter) cancelled 18 days before the trip. Or however many days. When I see an Airbnb host with a few cancellations, I reconsider the risk. Sometimes it’s still worth it. It is then my choice based on my risk aptitude.


@botvot - yes this idea would give everyone the information to make a considered choice .


Good point @Elly-Andy-NOLA .

It does appear as you have said that in the three cases you have mentioned from the last three months when sitters cancelled the sit - it would appear that you as HO have cancelled because only the HO has the option to unconfirm the sit .

I have wondered why there is no option for the sitter to unconfirm a sit only the HO ? Or have I missed something ? What is the procedure in these cases ?

I am also interested to know how THS keep records of sitters cancelling in these cases , as they would be unaware it was the sitter who cancelled .

This anomaly could explain why this forum is full of stories of sitters cancelling when THS records show that there are not more cancellations.


If there is a situation where either a sitter or pet parent cancels and, for any reason, it does not sit well with you, it is important to email as membership services can log this on their account and therefore monitor any further behaviour. This is especially important for last minute cancellations.

While emergencies can happen and are fully understandable, TrustedHousesitters continues to encourage the platform’s ethos of both reliable and trustworthy sitters and pet parents/owners.

Also to mention, that as the pet parent/owners are in control of their listing, no matter who cancels, only the pet parent/owner has the ability to cancel the sit and relist.


Thank you @Therese for this clarification on the correct procedure when either a sitter or home owner cancels.

We appreciate all the work that membership services do behind the scenes to ensure that the majority of sits go ahead without a problem.

I also don’t believe the THS platform needs to indicate cancellation history, partly because I think it’s best dealt with individually and because it seems wildly impractical. Most people would likely come up with a “valid” reason to get around any system anyway. I’ve never cancelled as a sitter but in just one year of part-time sitting I’ve had 4-5 sits that were either postponed or cancelled by the homeowners, all with very valid reasons. Luckily I would have been driving and didn’t have flights or other irrevocable plans, and the homeowners wanted to make it right if I had. When I was the pet owner I didn’t have sitters cancel or have to cancel myself but always had backup plans in case of emergency. Obviously there are risks involved with this kind of mutual exchange and I think all we can do is go into it with our eyes open and guts checked :smiley:


Hi Chrissie,

I see you what you mean about blocking the dates of the cancelled sit, however…

My partner’s father died recently, and we were due to sit the following week at the other end of the country. I offered to come on my own and my partner would join me a few days later on the train, but the home owner said she’d rather cancel: perhaps partly from consideration for us, but I think also she found it stressful. A sit then came up in my partner’s home town. We applied and thankfully were accepted, so we could be with his family in the following days. Sometimes things may appear suspicious when they’re not…


I myself who’ve done close to 20 sits in my two years with THS would never think of canceling unless there was an absolute emergency. Once I commit I stick with it. The only time I’ve ever made a change was in the interview process long before anything was confirmed. As a responsible and dependable woman I Stand by my word. As a few other’s have stated it’s possible that newer members who do not fully grasp the concept of this site might be taking advantage.


@temba Yes, we did a video chat with each candidate before confirming their sit.

The one who cancelled the May sit had eleven 5 star reviews. The one who cancelled the June sit has seven 5 star reviews and the one who canceled for October has four 5 star reviews. All were excited to come to New Orleans for the sit, until they cancelled.

The reason we did not leave a review for our sit in March is that we had some issues so we felt had we given an honest review, she would never get another sit. We advised her to reassess why she joined the site and decide if she really wants to pet sit or only look for house-sitting gigs with no pets.

Sometimes unforeseen circumstances arise, that’s life. I have 35 5-star reviews, yet in the last few years I have had to cancel a couple of sits but in plenty of time for the owners to find a replacement. I don’t think its fair for otherwise reliable sitters to be penalised for this when owners can cancel at any time for any reason.

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