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House-sitting involves living in someone’s home whilst they are away. You’ll be expected to keep things clean and tidy, perhaps looking after a pet – and of course, deterburglarsby living in the house.
Some agencies will also specialise in short-term sitting, where they provide people who will stay in your home all day waiting for the plumber or that elusive furniture delivery. House-minding is keeping an eye on an empty home with a regular, often daily, visit to water the plants, pick up the post and have a quick dust down.
For both house-sitting and house-minding you can mind the houses of family and friends, but for regular work you can register with an agency, like Homesitters and Mrs Hunt’s Staffing. You could also put yourself on Jobsgrapevine for free, offering your services as a house-sitter or house-minder. If you are doing this independently, the owners should provide a written contract with instructions of what to do if specific situations arise so that you’re completely sure of the right action to take. Also, make sure you provide the home-owners with references from a previous landlord and employer.
Working with an agency
It is easiest to present an agency with a police check and you will need references from professional people. The agency will interview you in your own home to make sure you are suitable for the job.
Some agencies like Homesitters take on sitters as their employees and therefore they are the responsible party, not you. They will have insurance to protect you throughout the job and even your partner if they are joining you for the sit.
You won’t be expected to work all day – usually your duties will take a couple of hours and the rest of your time is yours. However clearly the whole point of house-sitting is that you’re there to protect it so usually an agency like Homesitters will expect you to leave the property for no longer that three hours at a time in the day and one hour at night.
A good agency will interview you thoroughly to determine your interests, skills and preferences. This will then help them to match you to appropriate clients so that the sit is more fun for you and beneficial to the client. For example, a client with a cat can be matched to a house-sitter who has had experience looking after cats and would enjoy it.
Generally, an agency will match you to a client that lives near your own home, usually within the same county. However, if you want to travel they may be able to help to you find a house-sit further away as long as you agree to pay towards the travel costs, or use the opportunity to stay with a family member or friend and travel to the house-sit from there instead.
Who would it suit?
House-sitting is particularly suited to people who have retired and are fit and active enough to maintain a house and look after pets. Short-term house-sitting can also be useful to students who are flexible and have time to look after other people’s places – maybe while studying. As long as clients are confident that you are looking after their house properly you may be able to house-sit if you work from home, perhaps as an author.
You have to be sure that you will be comfortable in someone else’s house, and away from your own home and social circle, because you are unlikely to be able to invite other people (apart from your partner if it has been agreed previously) to the client’s home. Many agencies will want someone available throughout the year so that if a client needs a house-minder more than once they can use the same person again and again.
How much can you make?
Don’t think of house-sitting as a way to make lots of money. The pay is minimal and the work is unlikely to be regular but it is a good way to earn a bit of money on the side and possibly have some fun whilst you’re at it.
- Long-term house-minders can earn about £9 a day, plus food and travel allowances.
- Short-term house-sitters can earn between £8 and ££10 an hour.
If you work through an agency your costs will be minimal, including things like personal phone calls. The owners should provide everything necessary on a day-to-day basis, plus a float to cover anything you need as you go along (like pet food, for example).
If you are house-sitting independently, an owner could initially request a deposit from you. It’s best to go over the house together on your arrival to write down any damage. You may also have to pay for the utilities you use when house-minding but make sure this is clearly stated in the checklist/contract before you house-sit.