ACCESS 2000

   Small Business

   Resource Centre

       Guides

Packed with current practical advice on the topics listed below

Small Business Startup


Small Business Advertising

Small Business Tips

Business Planning


 

 

 

 

Small Business Startup Guides

z  Housesitting

Housesitting Guide - getting ahead as a housesitter

Housesitting is a great way to save on one of our biggest expenses - rent. When starting a small business this can free up cash to put towards your business. If you run your business from home - this is added security for your home owner as you will be around both day and night.

This guide tells you all you need to know about Housesitting - and where to register as a Housesitter. It also includes all the steps a Homeowner needs to follow to ensure a succesful housesit.

What is Housesitting?
Why have a Housesitter while your are away?
How does Housesitting work? - the standard Housesit
Why people Housesit?
Who pays the bills during a Housesit?
What about House Insurance?
What about a bond/security deposit?
Finding a Housesitter/Register as Housesitter
Selecting a Housesitter
Get a written agreement
 


Housesitting is arranging for someone to live in and care for your house while you are away.

A housesitter is the person(s) who lives in and takes care of your house during your time away from home. The housesitter(s) may be an individual, couple or family - you choose according to your preference.

Please refer to the standard housesit  for the generally accepted makeup of a 'typical' housesit.

Why have a housesitter?

You don't have to face all the disruption of preparing your house for rent. (Packing up household items, valuables etc)

You need not impose on friends or relatives - asking them to go our of their way to keep an eye on your house or mind your pets.

Your 'lived in' house will be a deterrent to intuders.

Avoid the financial slug that comes with boarding your pets. A house sitter will look after your pets in their familiar home environment.

A house sitter will mow your lawns, take in your mail, weed your garden, look after your pool or any other tasks you require. Another deterrent to break-ins. And your house and yard will be in top condition when you return.

The Standard Housesit

Each House Owner will have their own individual requirements and expectations of a Housesitter. The House Owners should make these clear before appointing a house sitter

Please refer
Steps to Selecting your Housesitter.

However there is an accepted standard housesit which includes the following common makeup:

Homeowner Expectations of the Housesitter

  • The Housesitter takes on total responsibility of caring for your home, yard, gardens and pets.
  • The Housesitters's standard of care is expected to be no less than you would take in looking after your home.
  • To keep your house secure at all times. To take all reasonable steps to ensure the saftey and security of your home and contents.
  • Usually expected to pay for utilities (eg electricity, gas, water) that they use.

Housesitter Benefit

  • Usually not expected to pay for house sitting your home. The housesitter receives rent free accomodation in exchange for maintaining and keeping your house secure while you are away.

Why the Homeowner can be very particular

  • As the housesitter is receiving the benefit of rent free accomodation (often helping them achieve their financial goals) most are prepared to be flexible to meet all your requirements.

Tasks that are performed by housesitters

You should specify and get written agreement to your specific requirements before appointing your housesitter. Here is a checklist of tasks - just take the ones that apply to your situation.

  • Gardening
  • Lawn mowing
  • Garbage disposal
  • Pool maintenance
  • General Security
  • Caring for pets
    • Regular walking
    • Washing
    • Medication
    • Vet visits
  • Pay regular bills
  • Re-addressing mail
  • Forwarding faxes

    Please refer to 
    "Agree in writing" for help on drawing up a written agreement.

Why Housesit?

People look for housesitting for many different reasons. They also come from different walks and stages in life.

Common House Sitter objectives

  • Saving for their own Home.
    House Sittting will often allow a couple to save for a deposit on a home.
  • Wanting to save on rent to help meet their financial goals
  • In need of short term accomodation
    • Renovating their own home
    • Professional people transferred interstate or overseas
    • Recently moved to the area and wanting to get familiar before deciding to put down roots.
  • Retired people looking to experience more of the country.

Who pays the bills during a Housesit?

Normaly the house sitter will pay for services that they use. ie Electricity, Gas, Telephone etc.

Other recurring bills such as land rates, local council rates are not usually the responsiblity of the homeowner.

If the housesitter was to be caring for your house for 12 months or more it is reasonable that they should also take on the longer term bills such as council rates.

We suggest you agree in writing how bills are paid.

 House Insurance

Of course you should make sure they have an up to date building and contents insurance policy. Also ensure you are 'paid up' for the period that you are away.

We strongly suggest you ring your Insurance Company and explain that you will have a 'housesitter'. Ask them what their view is on this. A lot of insurance companies consider your house will be more secure while occupied - rather than an empty house - so it should be a better risk for them.

You should make it clear to your Housesitter that your Insurance does not cover their personal belongings. The Housesitter should arrange for their own insurance for their belongings.

Bonds or Security Deposit

We recommend homeowners asks for a Bond (security deposit).

As a guide this could be the equivillant of four weeks rent (as if you were renting your house, of course you are offering your house rent free in exchange for the Housesitter Caring for your house and pets).

This bond may be lodged with an Independent party together with your written agreement. This could be with your solicitor/attorney.

HouseCarers.com supplies free of charge a House Sitting Agreement and Bond Lodgment and Claim Forms which you may use. Click here to view/download or print agreement and/or forms.

Finding a Housesitter/Registering as Housesitter

HouseCarers.com is an International database of registered Housesitters. People looking for House sitting assignments update their details on our online database.

The information provided by each Housesitter includes:

  • Preferred Housesitting Location (Country, State/Province, County/District Town/City, Town city area ) Where applicable
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Gender
  • Availability Date

The housesitter also writes a description letting you know more about them:

  • Who they are
  • Why they are a good choice to care for your home

They provide a sophisticated (but simple to use) search page that allows houseowners to find house sitters in their local area who match their requirements.

House sitters are allocated a private secure message box within the HouseCarers internal message system. A Houseowner also follows a simple online registration procedure to obtain their own message box.. The House owner then can send a confidential message to the prospective Housesitter, without disclosing their email address. When a message arrives in the Housesitters mail box they are automatically sent an email telling them they have a message waiting from a House Owner.

Housesitters then reply by sending a message to the Homeowners message box. Again an email is automatically sent to the Homeowner informing them they have a message witing at HouseCarers.com

HouseCarers.com does not disclose names or email addresses. They leave this to each party to disclose when they feel safe with the other party.

The HouseCares.com internal message systems means you can exchange information until you have narrowed down candidates that suit your requirements. You can then exchange phone numbers for a more detailed exchange of information - including references.

The Houseowner should screen each applicant to ensure they are trustworthy and responsible.

Selecting a Housesitter

Ask yourself - Do they present well?

Do the references check out. (Ring the referees to validate the references)

This is an important decision - trusting possibly your biggest asset.

Take your time - exercise caution and you will make the right choice.

Be decisive about what you require - your House Sitter should be more than happy to meet your requirements as you are exchanging the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of your house and location.

  • Step 1

    Send a HouseCarers message
    to each house sitter that matches your location, availability date and requirements. Use The  HouseCarers's
    search facility to bring up a list of candidates. Then view the details of each match. You can then send a message to the housesit from the House Sitters Search detail page.

    In your message make your requirements clear.

    Ask each Housesitter what they can offer
    in terms of experience and skills, relevant to your requirements. When your send your message the House Sitter will automatically be sent an Email telling them they have a message from you waiting in their HouseCarers message box. They do not reveal your Name or Email Address.
     
  • Step 2

    Make a short list based on the Housesitters response to your request. When the Housesitter replies to your HouseCarers message you are automatically sent an email informing you that you have messages waiting in your HouseCarers Inbox. (When you
    register for free as a House Owner you are allocated your own secure Message Box)
     
  • Step 3

    Ask your short listed Housesitter candidates for references. We leave to your discretion how you now communicate with your Housesitter candidates - Telephone, HouseCarers messaging, snail mail or email. At this stage Housesitters may offer their phone number or email address. An option is to ask them to mail their reference to your office address as a security precaution (or for the Internet advanced ask them to attach their references to an email addressed to your work email address)
     
  • Step 4

    Contact the Housesitters referees
    .
    Confirm the details on the reference. Ask them how they think the person would perform as a Housesitter. If the referee had them as a Housesitter ask if they would have them again.
     
  • Step 5

    Prepare for your Interview - make a task list.

    Make a list of all the day to day operations of your household. What needs to continue while you are away. Go through each day of the week/ end of month. Does your pool filter need a backwash at the end of the month? In the next page - Putting it all in writing you will put all of these tasks into detailed instructions.
     
  • Step 6

    Make arrangements to interview in person your short listed House Sitters (who's references check out.)
    • Explain clearly what you will require of them.
    • Ask questions to probe out each House Sitters experience with pets.
      Watch how well they get on with your pets.
    • Tell them you would like a security deposit (bond) and gauge their reaction to this. If they are not agreeable - ask why. Any credible House Sitter should be willing to provide a bond.
    • Look for any sign that the house sitter is not keen to fulfil any of your requirements.
    • If a Housesitter is not happy with any of your requirements - don't choose them. There are plenty of eager House sitters who are willing and happy to serve your requirements in exchange for the privilege of living in your house.
    • Think about paying a visit to where the Housesitter currently lives. See how they look after their own place.

Once you have made your choice your are ready to put it in writing with a written agreement

Get a written agreement

Write out detailed Instructions

  • From the task list you prepared for your Interview.
    • Eg If the Housesitter needs to maintain your pool:

      How frequently do they need to dose it with chemicals? How do they test for chlorine/acid levels etc. For tasks like pool maintenance your will probably want to take them through with some 'hands on training/demonstration' at your house.
    • What are your pets feeding times/ diet?
    • Address for mail-redirection.
    • How often to water/feed the inside pot plants. How much water? How often to feed with fertilizer. You don't want your favourite pot plant killed with kindness.
    • How ofter to water the garden/ mow the lawn. Where is the fuel for the mower/ edger (whipper snipper). If extra fuel is required where do they get it - mixture (two stroke)
    • How to work the house security system (if applicable).

Make it clear how the recurring bills will be paid.

  • Agree on Who will pay
    If you have not already discussed this, agree on who will pay for the utilities (electricity, telephone,gas, water). Generally the Housesitter should be expected to pay for what they use.
    .
  • Choose how the bills will be paid
    • Alternatives include:
      • Take meter readings water/electricity just before leaving and when you return.
      • The Housesitter pays all bills from the day they start. You then, on your return, pay them back the difference for the percentage you used.
      • OR
      • Arrange to have all bills paid by yourself. Eg: By direct debit from your bank account; or by a friend or relative.
      • Then have the Housesitter pay you for what they used when you return. (You should be holding a security deposit/bond as protection that you will be paid)
      • OR
      • Disconnect all utilities
      • Housesitter connects utilities in their name.
      • The Housesitter then is billed for what they use and is responsible for paying their own bills.
      • A good option for longer term house sits.

Organise a written Housesittting agreement

  • Covering the terms and conditions under which a house sitter may occupy your home.
  • You can arrange this with your Solicitor/Attorney
  • You may use the House Sitting Agreement from HouseCarers.com and add your own special conditions.
    • HouseCarers.com supply free a House Sitting Agreement and Bond Lodgment and Claim Forms which you may use. Click here to view/download or print agreement and/or forms.

Arrange for a bond to held (together with your written agreement) by an independent party (eg solicitor/lawyer)

  • HouseCarers.com supply free a House Sitting Agreement and Bond Lodgment and Claim Forms which you may use. Click here to view/download or print agreement and/or forms.