THS Post Covid/Expanding and the rise of the home owner

I’ve been house sitting through this platform since 2019. I’ve had some wonderful experiences and met some wonderful people.

However, I can’t help but feel through my interactions within the past years (especially within the past year) have become unbearable and I’m considering leaving the platform.

Most home owners are not reading the terms and conditions or break them during the sit, I’ve had multiple people add additional pets to the sit the day I arrive (and they aren’t listed or protected by any insurance provided by THS) not to mentuon support for housesitters is almost non existent. I have a 10+ year career in animal care, pretty good record with dog bites, I had the worst dog attack in my life at a house sit because the owner lied about having a biting, reactive dog, I discovered the accident policy covered everyone except the sitter and I had too finish the sit, because we aren’t allowed to cancel, even when in danger or living in other peoples’ flilth…for example. And it has only become more common within the past year, despite THS assuring me otherwise and that disputes in the community are rare.

Now I know people are going to say, leave honest reviews. That does not work. People can delete their accounts and register with a new email and appear as a new user. I’ve experienced this several times, trying to give new users a chance, as I once started with zero reviews myself.

I want to hear from other sitters…how are we staying safe, how are we weeding through applicants…I almost feel like I just can’t take the risk on new or wealthy people anymore as they will literally lie to your face repeatedly in order to manipulate you into staying…especially if you have a proven track record of being a good sitter here…IDK guys it’s just a shame, I feel like this site use to be an equal, shared service platform, and even though all users pay a fee, it’s like home owners are expecting so much and some are assuming they are hiring you from a service, as if we are being paid to be there (I’ve had to inform 3 seperate users that was not the case and I pay money to use the platform too)…anyways sorry for the rant. I just wanted to put this out there and get a feel for what the community thinks.

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Hello @jburns
Things are not the same. I cannot generalize and say that it is due to any one thing. There are many variables including the pandemic, increased exposure to the notion of home and pet sitting and the benefits for both owners and sitters.
I compare it to having this great place where you could go and enjoy it peacefully that now has become a tourist attraction.
It is different. And I will say that I have found that the “feel” of it is not the same.
But I have also changed.
And just like you know when it’s time to change careers, retire, or any other major decision, you have to decide how and when to make a move.

Personally I’m beginning to add other ways to do the things I enjoy and discovering new things that are equally if not more satisfying.
Best wishes

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Hello

I am sorry to hear you are having really bad experiences. I have been sitting full-time for 10 years and my experience has been overwhelmingly positive–this isn’t to brag or discount your bad experiences, but perhaps what I share here may be helpful. While anything can happen and there is no absolute fool-proof way to pick sits, and guarantee no issues, that our experience has been so positive for such a long period of time, can’t be chalked up to mere luck.

There was only one sit my husband and I left early back in 2015. It was so long ago, I often forget about it! The HO seriously misrepresented the sit–which was in a very challenging environment-- in very serious ways and we stuck out 6 of the 9 weeks. I am sure many people would have left a lot earlier! The only reason we left early was because he was traveling locally and it was not difficult for him to return. But I digress…

Other than that, we haven’t had any other sits that were truly bad in any way. Sure some unexpected issues with the animals,etc…but totally bearable and just something that comes with the territory. We have never encountered any conflicts with any HO nor felt any treated us unfairly or had unreasonable expectations. Houses were just as clean as they appeared in the photos. The only times we ended up in a houses that wasn’t quite to our standards, we knew that ahead of time, and we were fine with it because they were short sits.

Some of the more challenging experiences have helped me hone what my ideal sits are, and while I may make slight compromises at times for a shorter sit, overall I stick to these preferences pretty strictly. As a full-time sitter especially, it is important to do that since I am always on a house sit.

For me, the most important consideration is what my day to day experience and comfort will be. I pass on applying for sits in ‘popular’ locations all the time because I know the responsibilities listed are beyond what I want to deal with, the house does not meet my standards for comfort, cleanliness, etc… or I just have some sort of intuitive sense to take a pass–I trust that feeling a lot and I think it has served me extremely well.

For example, if I had to choose between a super basic home in a really sought after location, or a beautiful home somewhere with zero touristic appeal, I would choose the latter without a doubt.

We are also very selective about the sits to which we apply. It is rare we have more than one application out for overlapping dates. But this is also due to the fact that in our experience most homeowners are pretty quick to respond.

I do think the experiences and people we attract into our life is a result of what we are putting out there. We are pretty positive, easy going people. I trust the right sits will find us so I don’t take ones that don’t feel fully right to us. I don’t let fear, impatience or attachment to particular locations guide our process.

For sitters who are frequently encountering bad experiences, all those experiences have one thing in common–that particular person. And in saying that, I am not suggesting it is the sitter’s fault or that they are to blame for these bad experiences. The only thing I mean is that it can be helpful to examine how you are going about the process, your thinking,etc…and seeing if there could be any links. For any bad sits you had, can you recall having any intuitive feelings beforehand that it might not be the right opportunity? What is the energy you are bringing to the process? Do you find yourself making compromises because the area is really appealing or you just want to fill your schedule?

Hope some of this helps a bit and that posting here and getting that stuff off your chest helped you feel a bit better!

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Totally agree.

I’ve been sitting for a year+ and will soon do my 15th sit, a repeat. Based on my experience, I’ve had a great time with THS. There have been a few hiccups, but not anywhere near what was described in the original post. Presumably, if things were generally bad, I would’ve encountered such as a newer sitter. But that’s not been the case.

What’s been working for me: I pay close attention to host’s listings and reviews — ones they write and ones they receive. And if I get any hint of entitlement, rudeness, selfishness, etc., I immediately avoid the sit. Likewise during chats via video or phone.

To me, the host is always the main potential deal-breaker. That’s because hiccups, major problems or emergencies can always come up, and if you have a bad host, that will make everything needlessly more painful or stressful.

To me, it’s a no brainer: If sitting voluntarily isn’t nearly all enjoyable, stop doing it. At least that’s how I approach it. I have lots of good stuff going on in life and don’t saddle myself with unnecessary pains in the rear.

One of the things that probably also helps me avoid trouble: I withdraw my application within 48 hours if any host is slow to reply and say they want to chat. That weeds out many questionable hosts and sits with potential bad fits.

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We’ve been on THS for a year and completed 25+ sits and we’ve had an amazing experience.

There’s been mutual respect between the HO and ourselves, and like @KC1102 I’ve always felt a draw or a feel-good connection to the owners we have sat for, it’s intuitive, there’s something that has clicked between us. And similar to @Maggie8K we typically withdraw our application if we don’t get at least a message back within 24hrs, as they aren’t the type of HO’s we would gel with.

Yes we’ve had HO’s take on additional pets, and medical problems have arose with some pets, but HO’s have always kept us in the loop, and even before we have any repeat sit dates sorted with them.

Just this morning an HO wanted to add a couple of extra days to a future sit, due to reasons beyond their control (long story)… but the sit is 6 months away, it’s the connection you build with people.

All of our HO’s have all been lovely, and they keep us up to date with any changes, and nothing has ever been ‘bad’ for us. We have other HO’s that ask for our availability before they book their holidays, it’s a beautiful feeling that they do that. Also, all of the home photo’s have correctly matched up to reality.

So, maybe it’s the area you are applying for (we sit in the UK and Spain), from what I can tell from the forum, the USA sitters/HO’s seem to have more problems than the UK possibly due to extensive marketing (no idea if that’s true), or maybe the type of places you apply for have changed over the years, whereby you aim for the more touristy places nowadays.

I feel for you for all of the ones that have gone wrong, but our experience seems to be the total opposite of yours.

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Keep in mind: THS cannot actually make you stay.

Yes, there are listings where the tone is way off the scale for entitlement etc. And then the HO comes here to ask why they don’t get applicants. And then they get help to polish the language… but it is still the same HO.

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I appreciate the feedback. Sounds like I have to be stricter with filtering people but it’s seems people are misunderstanding and insisting on talking about their positive experiences…I have many. I’m talking about the negative ones here …

Btw I have 20 + 5 star reviews and it’s been within the past year I’ve noticed an increased amount of dishonesty, entitlement, resource extraction attempts and homophobia globally.

I’m sad it’s permeating this platform as well

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It’s hard to say for me. I’ve been sitting since 2017. Do sitters who were members back then remember there was no confirmation asked of the pet sitter before a homeowner selected you? I remember I had applied for a sit, never heard anything, then got a confirmation of a sit just before it was supposed to start. I had to write and tell them I had made other plans as I had not heard from them. I don’t remember when THS changed this, but it is definitely an improvement.
The forum has not been around very long. Before its existence, we all navigated these things without hearing what others were experiencing.
The new review system for owners will take time to show the benefits to sitters. We can now see stars for different categories giving the sitter more information than they had before, and worry less about retaliation.
I’ve had some awful sits and said never again. I decided to adjust my criteria and questions, be much, much more selective, and overall, things have been better. I travel for pleasure, almost always outside the country where I live, so I spend a substantial amount in travel. I just finished a long sit in a city that is incredibly expensive and the accommodations were just beautiful. The pets were great and very easy.
For me now, if the sit isn’t great, I don’t apply. If there are pets that have issues that are not disclosed, I would make sure the owner found someone else to take my place.

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I think as communities grow you get more of this. Personally i think if the world had less people there would be less problems.

It seems that the THS community has been really growing and pet sitters anf homeonwner alike are not grasping the concept of what this exchange is about. I fault THS with that. They dont serm to be proactively adressing these problems as they grow.

I have never had a really bad experience with THS but when my husband was on the platform before me, he had 3 sits where the owners came back early and one owner who was a real ass to him. This was a couple of years ago so because he was new and wanted hood reviews, he gave the homeowners goid reviews.

I think the blind review system is set up much better now to be able to give honest reviews. But like you said, homeowners can just delete their account and create a new one. This serms like something THS should address.

Reading about bad sits may put some people off but for me it just makes me more aware. How people present themselves in their listing is so important. And now i insist on have a voice or video call with HOs just to get a feel for who they are.

We should all be vigilante to make this a better community and press THS to do the same.

Im so sorry you had bad experiences. It is awful to be trapped in a situation you are uncomfortable with or feel is dangerous.

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This absolutely 100% validates my concerns and I thank you for saying it better than I could.

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This is very interesting, thanks for participating. I am based in Canada and the USA. So there definitely could be cultural and social circumstance at play. I’m wondering now if I should have specified about what continent and countries I was talking about. Very American of me to project the culture of the North American continent onto the entire THS global community. :wink:

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Judging by the support on your post it seems a lot of people agree with you. And I will not take it in bad faith but I will indicate that I am an animal care professional of 10+ years and I advertise that in my profile, I have had 20+ 5 star reviews, I’ve cared for animals with cancer, diabetes, and all sorts of levels of cleanliness and as long as housesitters are up front, it’s not a problem. Maybe it’s a situation unique to being an animal health care professional on this site, but I have noticed an increased amount of conflict arising between myself and home owners including straight up dishonesty. Literally showing up to a sit and having several animals thrust into my care that were not advertised or trying to extract free labor like flipping airbnb units…just unreasonable situations.

No one is really talking about how homeowners can delete their profiles and make new accounts whenever they get “honest” or negative reviews, and what do they expect after lying or being dishonest? I just don’t understand anymore, and maybe its the culture of Canada and the US but majority of these problems are coming from OLD, 50+ RICH and WEALTHY people. I’ve had sooo many lovely experiences with working class nurses and students, etc who are sooo generous with what little they have…and I just have to say something about the culture here. I was hoping people wouldn’t just blame me, but I’m one of the golden THS users here. And thanks to everyone participating, this is good to hear.

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As a sitter I’ve had a mix of really good experiences, and medium-to-bad experiences.

This year alone I’ve already had to pay thousands of dollars on unplanned accommodations due to long term sits being casually canceled or dramatically shortened on a whim (sometimes at the last minute).
I used to pay for premium membership, but I mostly found member services to be unhelpful, and sometimes even unfriendly, so I went back down to the cheaper membership.

I think you’re right that you have to become more ruthless in vetting homeowners. That’s what I’ve done.
And I’ve concluded that THS doesn’t really have my back, as a sitter. They take care of the “introduction,” but basically I’m on my own.

I’m doing fewer sits now, and I’m definitely more selective. If the humans don’t seem like they’ll be welcoming, honest, kind, and grateful for a fair exchange (as I am), then I will not offer my labor to them.
There’s no reason for me to put myself into situations that may be unpleasant when I’m doing it “for free” … bartering only works when it’s a fair trade.
YOU get to decide which exchanges seem like they’re going to be fair.

[Also, to be fair, it seems like HOs have also seen a rise in bad sitters. The community is growing, and the culture of it is changing. ]

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It sounds like you have an incredible amount of experience. Maybe something to consider, because it can’t hurt since you already have so many five star reviews, but it may be worth changing your profile a bit. Maybe listing all of your professional experience, some people may think because you know how to handle problem pets, it’s no big deal for you. It can be true that some people who have more resources can be a bit distanced to what others may navigate, but they could also think you have a free place to stay so it’s a great deal for you. I’m not saying that is true, but maybe read through your profile, see if you can change it up to attract more of what you are looking for.
For me, I like things very clean. I like to find them that way, and make sure they stay that way. That’s me. To each their own. But, many of my reviews kept saying how much cleaner I left their place then I found it. That may seem great, but then the next sits I got, I was greeted with a mess. Who knows, but maybe they thought I was going to clean up after them, maybe they thought I’d leave it better than I found it. I don’t like having to clean up after others, but since I have standards for myself, I did what I had to do to make myself comfortable, and left theirs alone.
Anyway, I changed my profile a bit. I no longer emphasize things that can attract someone wanting me to clean for them, and when I talk with them, I do emphasize that have a wonderful home where I live and I travel for the experience. I don’t save anything, I pay quite a lot to do this. I think this has helped me avoid people who could slip into the employer category who think they may be helping me out. I also now only apply to great properties, and if they have a cleaning person, all the better. I’m still clean and neat, but I’ve avoided facing a situation that was a mess since. If I do find myself with mostly challenging sits and owners, I’ll know then that it’s time to move on.

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With every new sit, my patience is wearing thinner and thinner, while my irritation is only growing. Most probably, it is time to take a little break; otherwise, a conflict of some sort is just a matter of time.

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Post Covid the main thing I’ve noticed is an influx of new sitters (maybe also HOs?) and it having become more difficult to secure sits as a very experienced sitters due to the 5 application rule.

Nonetheless, the sits I have been doing (and I’m on a sit right now) have been equally great as the many sits I did pre Covid, and the sits I did during Covid. Some sits are better than others, but certainly no deterioration in HOs noticed (yet). But then of course it also depends on which sits you accept - it has to feel good both ways!

I also downgraded because of this. Sorry to hear you have also had a difficult experience with customer support as a house sitter. I had to provide, invoices, receipts, bank statements and had to activily reach out to customer support over the course of 5 months to solve one issue in which I was left stranded in a wilderness area…and the issue went unresolved. The stories I have at the expense of using this platform, within the past year, is astonishing. I’m relieved to hear it’s not just me, but sad to hear it’s happening to other people.

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@jburns - did you raise a member dispute for each / any of these sits ?

THS do not read reviews but if an official member dispute is raised they will investigate and if found to be in serious breach of the T&Cs can remove members from the platform.

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I have seen reviews on Trust Pilot that support this. It would appear that some HOs are under the misapprehension that THS is an agency ‘sending’ them choices of applicants to select from. This could very easily lead to them treating sitters like staff and not even considering it an issue to, for example, change dates, cancel dates, add new responsibilities, reject applications without comments and expect very high levels of cleaning because they believe sitters are being paid by THS :thinking:.

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So the problem that is being illuminated with this is that when homeowners get reviews they don’t like, they can delete their profiles and make new accounts with a new email, list their property in a neighboring town, etc and the same goes for people who get removed by THS. There are a lot of loopholes that let problematic homeowners back into the system.

And I have tried many times to bring up issues with THS, with little success and virtually zero support which is why I am reaching out to the community directly to see if my experience is a shared on, which it sounds like it is. :frowning:

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