UK Owners: reconsider 'Sitters need a car'

Agreed! It’s wonderful when the HO offers to pick up from and drop off to the nearest train station or intercity bus stop. If groceries aren’t within easy walking distance, it’s very much appreciated that the HO takes the sitter for a first grocery shop before they depart. (I am not a fan of online grocery shopping; I want to choose my own food!)

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Yes please owners! Please stop using sitters need a car when there is easy access to public transport. You will miss out on us as great sitters if you say we need a car. We are more than happy to use public transport. Picking us up from the train would be great, not expected, but an added bonus that makes your listing more attractive if you mention that.

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This is for owners, sitters, and THS development staff.
My wife and I are in Europe for 3+ months, heading to UK beginning of July. I just started looking at potential sits. We have 20 completed, all 5 star.
Brexit made short term car leasing unaffordable when crossing over to UK. EU insurance no longer covers there, and impossible to find reasonable replacement. Car rental is insane. So, we are doing EU and UK by public transport.
At this moment there are just shy of 4000 sitter wanted listings in the UK. There are only 4,318 available sitters with either a review or experience tagged. “Available” meaning that their calendar shows them available, but clearly they are all not really available and applying. Many pet owners will not find a sitter.
Out of that 4,000 listings, only 200 indicate that sitter has use of a car.
Over the past week I have clicked on many dozens of listings, scroll down to see “sitter needs a car”, at which point I click BACK and move on to the next, and the next, and the next. No way will I spend the time to read every single listing hoping to see mention about public transportation.
The fact that a sitter user cannot filter (filter out) listings based on those home owner tags is ridiculous. There should also be a tag for “Accessible by public transportation” that could be used in a filter too.
THS is sorely lacking from a usability standpoint. Considering that THS charges the most of any other site, by quite a bit, it should be the flagship site also.

Rural homeowners, We would love to care for your pets and home. if you want 5 star experienced sitters (pet and house), make your situation attractive and feasible by offering use of the car. In our case, we don’t need the car for touring, just to get groceries, take the dogs to alternative walking points, etc.

We hope THS takes these recommendations seriously. If you want to be the best, you need to make it the best.

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@Terry I would love to see that tag, ‘Accessible by public transportation’. Even if a ‘car is included’ I don’t want to use it. If owners could put both tags it would be excellent. Then I could read the responsibilities section to see if the car is necessary for taking dogs to beach or some such task. But the ability to filter the sits by car or no car would be a huge advantage.
Having said that I have often done sits, without a car, that weren’t accessible by public transport It’s impossible to cover every option but a change of some sort is definitely needed.

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Hello,

I am new here, just created my first listing looking for a house/pet sitter.
I would be able to offer a car to my sitter I am just not sure how it would work from a legal side of things. As far as I am aware, only people stated in the car insurance car drive that car in the UK. It may be just lack of my knowledge but what would happen if for example my sitter had an accident?

Hi @Danilik and welcome to the forum and to TrustedHousesitters. You may notice that in my original post I didn’t suggest that owners offer their car to sitters. I didn’t intend that to be the point of this post. Rather, I suggested for homeowners to think outside the box - is a car preferable or essential? A big difference. I then suggested ways that may make it so that a sitter could do the sit without the use of a vehicle. My opinion about this topic is irrelevant as each member has to decide based on their personal situation and preferences.

A homeowner should look at the ‘what ifs’ when considering offering the use of their vehicle. If you search the forum posts using the spyglass you’ll see there are a few posts about this topic. Perhaps take a look at Cars for sitters

Although forum members are helpful, you should get specific advice from your insurance agent as each policy is different.

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I have been requesting improved search and sorting since back in early 2019.
Hasn’t changed anything.
Not holding my breath.

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I think it’s worthwhile to mention the website Rome2rio again in this thread. With this website or app you can search for alternative methods to get from one place to another anywhere in the world. For example, I just searched Southampton, UK to London Bridge, UK. I was given a list of two different train itineraries or driving a rental car. If you choose one of the options, the site will give you an approximate cost of the choice and often times a link to a train schedule. Travel times are provided as well. Since I have not owned a car for nine years now and I travel full time I have used this site a lot for planning my trips. We’re going to the UK from the US this summer and we used Rome2rio to find buses and trains to get to the sitter’s location. Give Rome2rio a try, it’s fun.

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I get the impression that making even the most seemingly minor changes requires multiple layers of research, review, and approval, possibly exacerbated by the recent funding boost and related involvement by lawyers. Flatten the hierarchy.

We are sitters from US who have done a number of sits in UK and a couple in France and I, too, agree that the ‘sitter needs a car’ could be more useful with some changes. We have been visiting UK and Europe on a regular basis over the last 40 years and have been house-sitting for the last 10 years. We have never rented a car and have done all of our travelling via public transport (train, bus, Uber/taxi) and with friends and HO’s. I don’t pay much attention to the ‘sitter needs a car’ because the HO’s idea of need and ours is much different. We do love being in villages and on properties outside of the big cities so I do my own research regarding transport if I find a sit that I would like to do based on the pets and the situation and the dates. Using Trainline, regional bus transport websites and any information in the description that helps me understand where the property is (Google Earth/Maps is REALLY helpful with even the slightest bit of info), I can in many cases actually figure out for myself if it is reasonable for us. However, if there isn’t enough information or none at all, I skip over it. (Take notice homeowners!)

A few years back we did 7 housesits over 5 months all over the UK, all with no private transport…we don’t even want to drive HO’s cars as we just aren’t comfortable with our British driving skills. Many time our HO’s picked us up at the train station or bus stop if I had already determined that I could shop either on foot or with bus/Uber. When I apply to a ‘Sitter needs a car’ sit I always tell them right off in my application letter that their situation looks like maybe we could use public transport for getting around while sitting and I ask them if they think it reasonable for us to make that assumption as we don’t drive in UK. Many of those were fine with it and agreed it would be ok. If we get asked for an interview and it sounds promising when talking with them, we ask about pick up and drop off at the station. If they can’t and we still want to do the sit, we simply plan for Uber or Taxi.

We have never had a problem and, while sometimes the public transport takes a lot of planning (like purchasing BritRail and Eurail passes) and takes more time to move around, in the UK and Europe it works! I’m totally on board with the suggestions that the HO’s add better information in their profile to help those of us who are not driving know whether or not it is feasible.

THS could also aid in this issue, as other have suggested, with more options/or descriptions and filters that would give sitters better tools inside the application to figure out for themselves if the sit fits their needs.

Now, as for housesitting in the US - whole different story! From my perspective almost every sitter needs a car unless the sit is IN a large city/town.

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And even then you never know. My mom’s old town was a decent size and there was shopping and restaurants within walking distance, but walking wasn’t really safe. There were no sidewalks for most of it so you had to walk on relatively busy streets. last time I tried walking there I literally caused an accident because people didn’t know what to do with a pedestrian and I was walking as far away from the road as I could.

Hi Terry, totally agree with what you are saying. As HOs we always say we will pick up/drop off sitters and always offer to take them shopping, we feel it’s the least we can do. Also we try to take them to our local to hopefully introduce them into the area. If you are still looking for a sit we are on the lookout from 11th July until 22nd. In the meantime good luck with all your travels.[quote=“Terry, post:9, topic:15514, full:true”]
This is for owners, sitters, and THS development staff.
My wife and I are in Europe for 3+ months, heading to UK beginning of July. I just started looking at potential sits. We have 20 completed, all 5 star.
Brexit made short term car leasing unaffordable when crossing over to UK. EU insurance no longer covers there, and impossible to find reasonable replacement. Car rental is insane. So, we are doing EU and UK by public transport.
At this moment there are just shy of 4000 sitter wanted listings in the UK. There are only 4,318 available sitters with either a review or experience tagged. “Available” meaning that their calendar shows them available, but clearly they are all not really available and applying. Many pet owners will not find a sitter.
Out of that 4,000 listings, only 200 indicate that sitter has use of a car.
Over the past week I have clicked on many dozens of listings, scroll down to see “sitter needs a car”, at which point I click BACK and move on to the next, and the next, and the next. No way will I spend the time to read every single listing hoping to see mention about public transportation.
The fact that a sitter user cannot filter (filter out) listings based on those home owner tags is ridiculous. There should also be a tag for “Accessible by public transportation” that could be used in a filter too.
THS is sorely lacking from a usability standpoint. Considering that THS charges the most of any other site, by quite a bit, it should be the flagship site also.

Rural homeowners, We would love to care for your pets and home. if you want 5 star experienced sitters (pet and house), make your situation attractive and feasible by offering use of the car. In our case, we don’t need the car for touring, just to get groceries, take the dogs to alternative walking points, etc.

We hope THS takes these recommendations seriously. If you want to be the best, you need to make it the best.
[/quote]

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Hello,
nice to hear your need for a sitter. Unfortunately, a few days ago we accepted a sit from July 11 to July 23.
Is there something special about that time period?
But have not scheduled any sits beyond that.
Enjoy your travels.

I find Google maps usually fairly good at displaying local transport, so if a listing has ‘Sitter needs a car’ the best thing would be to Google the location. But I’m guessing the potential sitter can’t see the HO address until they’ve been accepted for a sit…? Maybe there could be some sort of indicator of HO owners local area without giving too much away?

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If we can’t figure out where the home is located, we ask when we apply for the sit. (I’m fine with a street name or general neighbourhood if they don’t want to share the exact location before we are accepted.) Location is super important to us so we often don’t even apply for sits if we don’t know where they are.

Homeowners & sitters: I want to reiterate that the point of this post was to lessen the number of times ‘Sitters need a car’ is selected for the listing at the outset, BEFORE it is listed. It was also in no way intended to encourage hesitant homeowners to volunteer their vehicles.

As much as sitters can each have various ways of determining whether they could be independent without the use of a vehicle, it has been shown that the vast majority of listings are tagged as sitters need a car. My point is to lessen that number, in circumstances where a vehicle is ideal, rather than essential.

Many sitters, myself included, spend lots of time opening listings daily, only to see this tag. Although some sitters choose to do some research and then suggest to the homeowners that they would not need a vehicle, this is no more than a workaround. Many sitters will also choose NOT to go further - move on to the next listing - which is less than ideal when homeowners are being faced with no applicants.

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I have done that often. RomeToRio is even better.
But, doing that for dozens of listings just to get around poor search functionality of the website is crazy.
THS simply needs to do a better job. Especially considering the annual fee. Times members, they are pulling in the cash big time.
The website hasn’t improved since we joined in 2017.

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It’s ironic that are so many lovely sits in the UK this summer, and so few in France (for the second half of July), but when a sit is available in France more owners offer the use of their car.

Great post, thank you. I wonder how many home owners read the community forum? Is it worth THS sending a bulk mail out with this advice to HO in the Uk with sits over a weeks old?

Thank you @AussieGail a good suggestion considering the positive responses and feedback … will pass back to the team.

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