Sitters without references

Does TH now accept and publish as sitters those who have no references? I am in the process of reviewing applications and am confused to find sitters applying who have no references at all. When I applied as a sitter years ago, I had to submit at least two references before I would be accepted.

References, I have to admit, are really useful for new sitters to get a first sit but are not obligatory. I would always recommend new hosts to get a couple. However, when we started, we had no references as we had never looked after anyone’s house or pet before and hence could not think of anyone that would give us one that was related to house or pet sitting.

I could have got my mate to say how great I am but I always think references from friends or family don’t really carry any credibility.
We had been Airbnb hosts and guests so we added a link to our Airbnb profile ( which I later found out didn’t work!) and started applying.
Thankfully a home host was prepared to take a gamble on us as newbies and once we had a review from them, future hosts could read that and feel more confident to invite us to sit for them.

We now have many reviews but still don’t have any references!


Wow! I didn’t know that! Always great when that first owner accepts you

As the verification process is now mandatory for sitters, the references are not obligatory, but obviously highly recommended.

Its so great @Colin that your first homeowners gave you that opportunity. :slight_smile:

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I would certainly hope that, at the very least, there is a verification process which is mandatory and am disappointed to learn the references are no longer a requirement. (When I joined a few years ago, it appeared to be part of the process.) I understand that there is no way to guarantee that the references are genuine and that they are sometimes written by family members and/or friends but it’s better than nothing. I’m happy for Colin too, but as a home owner, I would prefer to see references. It’s not like it’s a big ask. There are no requirements on the length or content of the references.

-----Ursprüngliche Mitteilung-----

As a HO i prefer to see reviews from actual sits.


@Andy - One good review is worth a thousand references - the worry I have with references is that they can lull a home host into a false sense of security. Literally any dodgy character will have a dozen people that will tell you how lovely they are.

You don’t want my mum, brother, next-door neighbour or aunty Flo singing my praises, you want a stranger that I do not know personally, telling you that I have stayed in their home, cared for their pets impeccably and respected their belongings. If one stranger to me tells you this, it’s a good sign, if two strangers to me tell you, then it’s a very good bet that what they say is the truth.

All new sitters need a home host that will initially take a gamble on them, as do new home hosts. We have sat for quite a few home hosts with no prior reviews - it is a risk for us, we have no idea what environment we are blindly entering.

Thankfully there are sitters and home hosts out there that are prepared to take the gamble purely on gut feeling. I do however totally understand the home hosts and sitters that are not prepared to take the gamble. For those, of which you seem to be included, I would recommend only inviting sitters that have at least two previous good reviews - that way, your concerns will be elevated and you will be able to hand over your keys and go on holiday totally relaxed about the situation.

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THS now allows sitters to link their Airbnb and LinkedIn profiles to their sitter profiles, assuming that they have either or both. It is not the same as a sitter review, but if you see that they have treated Airbnb properties respectfully and have good professional comments on LinkedIn, that would give you some insight into their character and may be helpful. Everyone has to start somewhere. I have taken chances being the first sitter for several hosts. Luckily, they were lovely people and I had great sits with them. Good Luck. Lynn

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I started in mid May without any references as the only pets I had looked after were my family. I didn’t think HO’s would take me seriously with references from my dad and brother.
I did link my linkedin and airbnb accounts though. I now have a number of positive reviews after 6 sits!


I think that it helps a lot for any new sitter to get references. Mine are from friends, a colleague and a lady who did a pet portrait for me and asked me to housesit for a weekend.
At the end of the day though it’s entirely up to the owners whether they choose to go with a new sitter with no references which I’d have thought was very unusual.


I would not have someone who did not have a any reference at all even from a neighbour or relative. Even a work colleague to vouch for them. When we had our cats looked after we got a lovely couple who had very vague looking references, but we did invite them around for a meal beforehand. They were great. When they had finished they got a great reference from us and I also gave them a printed reference with my phone number that they could use as well.

It is nice to have reviews from actual pet sits, but everyone needs that first sit to get a review. I have selected someone with references over someone without more than once.

I realize that personal references can be staged, but that takes effort and requires collusion with the other party. It’s a pain for someone to go through. I find the lack of personal references a negative. It is the least you can do if you are really serious about pet sitting.

Personal references can speak to your reliability, trustworthiness, and integrity. They can also guide you to the applicant’s love and experience with animals, even if the pets are personal pets.

I would suggest applicants go to the trouble of getting personal references. It is a positive that will help build the homeowners confidence to get that first sit!


@JMP_Loves_Paws thank you for your contribution to this very important discussion …

This article from our website blog underlines the importance of new sitter members adding personal references to their profile

Why references are important

  • Success rate. Yup, it was no surprise to us when we crunched the numbers and found that sitters who have at least three references increase their chances of finding a sit by 20%!
  • Trust. Before welcoming you into their home to care for their furry family members, pet parents need to get to know you and ultimately, trust you. By including at least three references, pet parents can learn about you as a person from the people who know you best.
  • A fuller sitter profile. The more complete your profile, the more appealing you are to people looking for sitters. The more information they’ve got to go on, the more likely they are to choose you, so get requesting!
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I don’t remember who gave me a first sit but I think I offered my Airbnb profile, LinkedIn and another established professional profile as proof of my existence in addition to references. As a homeowner, I tihnk I have had one or two first-time sitters look after my home and cats.


Hello, I’m new around here and I used to do some housesitting about 15 years ago, and also cared for a little dog. I would like to apply for sits again today, but the problem is that I don’t have references from that time and I’m not sure if I’d ever be hired without references. Has anyone here been in this situation before? How did it work out?

Hi @AngeEH123
A big welcome to the forum. I have moved your initial post to this thread, as I am sure you will gain lots of information perusing through this thread.

As some members have mentioned, having an Airbnb and/or LinkedIn profile helps to build your profile, especially if you do not have references.

I would also advise that you add your profile link is here >>

Once you have added this, other members will be able to give you advice on your profile and how to make it the best possible profile.

Best wishes
Therese and the forum team.

The common recommendation I see here is to apply for short local sits or less popular sits to build up reviews, then branch out from there. Spend time on your profile and tell your story, there are many of us willing to give newcomers a chance.

We accepted a young couple’s app for a month-long sit this past summer. They had no reviews or references and worked out great! To be honest, they were our only applicant in the first three days so I was maybe more open to them, but once I read their profile and video chatted with them it was an easy decision, even after receiving more applications. You might have to work a little harder to get the first couple but it will be worth it.

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Hi @AngeEH123 - In THS terminology reviews are from home hosts on THS that you have been a sitter for, References can be from anyone that will say how great you are. If you have cared for anyone’s pet at any time in the past, they will be great to ask for a reference. If not, anyone that knows you can add a character reference to your profile. If you use Linkedin or Airbnb adding links to those can be good too.

The best by far to have are reviews. We all started with zero so have all been in the same position at some time as you are now.

Ideally, you need three or four to be able to show future home hosts. As you need them quickly to instantly improve your profile the best way is to apply initially to last-minute, short sits. Preferably as local to you as possible to keep your travel costs down. These might not be sits that normally you would apply to, but will be a great investment of your time to enable you to quickly be applying, and hopefully being accepted in the very near future for the sits that you really want to do.

Good Luck!

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