I’ve almost always had a positive experience with the neighbors at any housesit I’ve been to - usually very favorable, like the time someone brought me Thanksgiving dinner or invited me over to their Christmas spaghetti dinner. And at each sit, there is almost always a neighbor or two with a key.
One sit I did last fall the neighbor with the key turned out to be pretty bothersome. He was a lonely older man, possibly with some mental issues, and he liked to come over and would talk for hours, if I let him. He apparently found fault in my care of the dog and even went so far as to enter the house on his own while I was out and leave me nasty notes.
I took care of him as best I could - I called him when I found the notes and talked it through with him, then discussed it with the homeowners when they got back. But all the same, I left the night they got back instead of staying an overlapping night as we had planned. I was ready to get out of there!
Still, it’s not like it’s their fault. He tended to come around their house every 3-4 weeks and since he’d come by the day before they left, they assumed I wouldn’t see him during my week there. I avoided leaving them a review for a while (and they haven’t reviewed me) but I finally did and was honest - “It’s a beautiful house and a lovely dog, but I did have a little trouble with the neighbor that I hope will be addressed for future sitters” - that sort of thing, nothing too specific. I still gave them a 5-star rating.
I guess my only question is, has anyone else had any major trouble with neighbors? What would you do in this situation? I feel like this was very unusual and I’d hate for it to reflect badly on the home owner just because the neighbor overstepped. They were relatively new to the neighborhood and he was the only other person they knew (probably because he’s the neighborhood busybody.) It’s a weird gray area that I’ve never had to deal with before - they aren’t responsible for their neighbor’s actions but it still colors how I view the sit and I’d hate for a younger or a less experienced housesitter to have to deal with someone like him. The whole thing made me very uncomfortable.
I’ve never had an experience like that – the HO should definitely take the key away from that neighbor! His behavior as you describe it amounted to harassment and not anything you should have had to deal with. And letting himself into the house is completely over the line, just as a matter of normal human interaction, even aside from the THS TOS that states the HO may not allow anyone other than the sitter(s) to enter the home during the sit. “Not like it’s their fault” is far too generous here – this is entirely their responsibility.
Hi @sbwade I think your kindness and tolerance went too far, and hopefully in future you will put your safe-being ahead of trying to be polite. I mean that in a kind way, rather than in a critical one.
I always ask the homeowners if there is anyone else who has a key or access code to the home. We cover any house cleaners, their routines, and how that will be handled. For anyone else, I find out whether they are neighbours or family, for example. I then ask if they have been made aware of my presence, why I’m there, and been given the dates. I ask if they’ve been advised not to enter the home, unless I call for their assistance. From your recent experience, I’m guessing that might be part of your personal checklist from now on too.
In your situation, I would have advised the homeowners immediately after he first entered, rather than wait until their return. Give a homeowner an opportunity to promptly remedy any inappropriate situation, whatever it might be.
I think the homeowner was wrong in making an assumption that he would not visit while they were gone. They should have handled the situation beforehand, in this instance perhaps asking for the return of the key while they were gone. I would have also taken a firm stance with him immediately, making it clear that his action was unacceptable.
Your personal safety and right to privacy is key here. I hope you will keep that in mind.
Totally agree Snowbird. This could be a person in early stage Alzheimer’s. He could be very dillusional and come back into the house with a spade or shovel to kill someone! And it would nit be the first time someone with a medical condition has done that. It nearly happened to someone I knew!!!
Yes, I had a somewhat similar experience. HOs had already left, and the neighbor a few doors down was the one to introduce me to the dog and show how to put on his harness. That was all fine. She came by the next day to ask if I wanted to walk down to the shops with her dog and the HO’s dog. Great, I thought. I have someone supportive and friendly nearby. But it became clear that she was snooping on me/checking up on me–I’m not 100% sure whether she placed herself in that role or if the HOs asked her to. The HOs and I had been in regular contact, so it was just…weird.
About 8 days into the sit–as OKd previously with the HO-- I went out for an afternoon (the 1st time for more than a quick trip to the store). I had been away from the home for less than an hour when this neighbor sent me a barrage of text messages. She’d gone over and peered into the house and claimed, “X looks anxious.” “Where are you?”
I acknowledged her and said I would be communicating directly with the HO. I told the HO what happened and said I did not appreciate this treatment by this meddlesome neighbor and assured them I was taking excellent care of their pet and home. They basically agreed. I don’t recall the details. But I hoped that my standing up for myself let them know not to have her assume any such role in the future.
@Snowbird Yes, thanks, it will be part of my discussion moving forward! There have always been neighbors with keys, I just never dreamed they’d actually use them! And it’s a keypad too, not a key, and I’m not entirely sure they know how to change the code…
@Katie I hope so! good to know I’m not the only one.
The HO controls the door codes. He probably has a separate one. They could deactivate that, or change it to a new one that he does not have.
Yes, it can be frightening but I take the portable door lock with me which is good for internal doors but does not work for my external doors. That way if someone does come in, they can’tget into your bedroom at night without forcing the lock. It just gives you time to alert police …if you have kept the police emergency number. It is a very useful little gadget and buys you time if find yourself in a dangerous situation.