Utility bills

Just about to commence a two month sit in Portugal. Received the welcome pack yesterday and it mentions ordering firewood and bottle gas but no mention of an account for payment. When the sit was advertised and agreed there was no mention by the HO about the sitter being expected to pay for utilities. I have done many sits and never had to pay for any utilities. Can I expect the HO to leave sufficient wood and bottle gas for the duration of my sit or to set up an account with the supplier for payment? It is already costing a considerable amount just to get there as I have to drive from the UK as the sit is in an area where there is no public transport and the sitter requires a car.

You need to clarify this with the HO, if you’re expected to pay for this, then it should have been mentioned at the start. Have they had previous sitters?

Message the HO asap and ask them to clarify both gas and wood supplies and top-ups and method of payment as @Chrissie says. You can’t have it dropped on you now. Maybe phrase it as “please can you advise how much wood and gas will be left and if you have an account with the supplier or will leave petty cash for top ups?” That way you’re not getting into the, are you paying, you’re making it clear that they will do & not you. Also, why has the WG taken so long? :thinking: #hmmmnnnnn

I’ve never really considered having to buy gas and wood as a utillity before but I guess it can be. How much wood and gas would you expect to go through? Is it just a small wood burner stove or is the entire heating, hot water hob and oven run off gas and wood (in which case definitely a utility)?
To some extent the fact you’re driving from the UK is not the owners issue - they have a sit and accepted applicants from wherever who need to get themselves there at their own expense. But I appreciate additional costs are additional costs even if you were getting there for free.
Maybe just start a conversation with the owner preferably really soon so if you do cancel they don’t get stuck. Explain you’ve just received the WG and it says you will need to but wood and gas. Tell them this would be classed as utilities and should be covered by them so is there sufficient for the stay or would you be expected to restock, how much would be required, what would it cost etc. Explain you don’t have the budget for that. Maybe reach a compromise where they stock up the normal amount and if you go over you replenish?
Have they had sitters before? Were they over winter?

Thank you. They are new to Trusted House Sitters and this is their first sit.

Thank you for your advuce. They are new to the group and this is their first sit.
I will contact them to discuss.
Having read the information in the help section on the site, I feel the situation with utilities should be made clearer as they are not directly mentioned.

The hot water is heated by gas and the radiators from a wood burning stove. I would certainly class these as utilities and should be included in the sit. The HO is new and this is their first sit.

Someone asked me to do this and I said no thanks to the sit. Thankfully we hadn’t confirmed anything.

Thanks Andrea. If I had been informed when the sit was advertised I too would have rejected it but only just received the Welcome Guide which dealt with the utilities subject. Way too late to back out now. ferry booked and hotels en route. The HO are new members and probably not aware yet of how things normally work.

Just to note (not sure if you know), it’s ok and within terms to propose HS cover utilities for their stay and would make sense for a longer stay, but as @Cuttlefish mentioned that’s something that should have been disclosed upfront and for me, that’s the area of contention I’d have.

I hope it all works out regardless and you have a wonderful sit! X

Thanks bakindoki

@lochness are these the only sources of hot water and heating ( presumably the home has electricity) ? Or are these additional / supplementary to a main heating source ? If these are required as the only source of heating/ hot water then as @Cuttlefish suggests ask the HO for confirmation of the arrangements that the HO has made to pay for these .

If you receive a reply back indicating that they are expecting the sitter to pay for this you can quote the following from the Help pages of THS

“ The pet parent can request a contribution to utility bills from the sitter during the sit.

Although rare, this usually only happens on longer sits, but the pet parents can request it for any length or sit, as long as they are upfront and transparent about it on the listing and in their first contact messages with the sitters.

They should clearly agree which utility bills the sitter will be paying, how they will be paying the bills and by which date/s before the sit is confirmed. ”

Please let the forum know the outcome of the conversation with the HO.

@bakindoki whatever is in the terms I think it’s wrong for a homeowner to ask for a sitter to cover their utilities no matter how long the sit is.

@lochness you’re going to have to tactfully ask them how it is to be paid for and try to ensure they understand the exchange basis for you to offer free petsitting.

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You’re definitely welcome to think that and even more importantly “vote with your feet”/not apply for sits with utilities.

However, everyone’s situation is gonna look different and I can definitely see how for a really long sit or a sit in some locations or properties it could make sense and be reasonable to ask an HS to pay for that aspect of what they use or potentially anything in excess of xyz.

Most important thing is that whatever is presented is agreed upon up front by the parties involved. Past that, it’s really none of my business so long as no animals were harmed in the process. :woman_shrugging:t5:

Hi @Silversitters
In my experience from sits and holidays in Portugal they don’t have a lot of mains gas supplies so hot water boilers use gas cylinders.

@bakindoki I agree that for longer sits (I do many of them, from one to six months) a HS could at least offer, or agree, to pay for part or all of certain utilities e.g. electricity. I ALWAYS offer, even if not asked, as I think for these amounts of time it’s only fair. Sometimes it’s accepted, other times they won’t hear of it. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it :rofl:

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@bakindoki we would never do a sit where there is an expectation for us to cover utilities as we consider the time and effort we put into the sit to take care of the animals and home to be an equal exchange.

We consider ourselves to be very trustworthy and reliable sitters - we are highly qualified and I think it’s only fair that if someone wants us to sit for them then they respect the spirit of the THS exchange without expecting payment.

Our stance is the same no matter the location or length of sit.

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I think this is the most likely answer - that they are new and didn’t realise utilities should be paid by them unless disclosed before any agreement or better yet in the listing. They probably put the information in the Welcome Guide as part of “this is how the house functions”. There’s probablly a lot of owners who don’t realise but since their utilities are just paid out their bank every month just left that as is and never gave it a thought.
If you approach it as you seem to be doing where it may be something they overlooked rather than they were trying to get one over on you, you would hopefully get the best response from them which would be to stock up in advance of your arrival. They probably don’t want to lose you for the same reasons you don’t want to cancel.
Good luck and let us know how it works out.

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All fine. Adequate supplies will be there. As new HOs there is a bit to learn. Starting off today and ferry tomorrow’s night. The forecast for Biscay seems favourable.
Thanks for your input

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@lochness so glad it all worked out :pray:

Mods might like to close the thread as OP’s post has been resolved by her in a positive manner and might avoid any further unnecessary discussion. I’m sure the utilities thing has been discussed in depth on other threads and doesn’t need to continue when OP is happy :grin::grin: :partying_face:

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