Homesitter’s frequently asked questions
How available do I need to be?
We do like our homesitters to be generally available throughout the year. This is because (a) we are busy all year round, and (b) a client may want the same homesitter at different times of the year.
How will you choose the homesits to offer me?
Before you join us you will have an opportunity to discuss home and pet sitting in great detail. At this interview, you tell us about your skills and experience and your likes and dislikes so that we can be sure to match you to assignments you will enjoy. We take very comprehensive briefs from clients about their homes and pets, and we give you full details when offering you a sit. You are free to choose both the number and type of homesits you undertake – and you meet the client before the homesit takes place, to ensure that this is the right sit for you.
Do I need particular skills and experience?
Yes – you must be experienced in running your own home. Our employees are “surrogate homeowners” which means that they must be able to apply their domestic skills to the needs of the client. Many homesits include the care of pets, so a liking for dogs and/or cats and some hands-on experience is also a great asset.
Will I be working all day?
Certainly not! Home and pet sitting is a serious responsibility but it is meant to be enjoyable. Normally the average working time does not exceed 1.75 hours per day. When you’re not carrying out your duties, you are free to remain on the client’s premises or to explore the local area. Any period away from the property must not exceed three consecutive hours during daylight or one hour after dark, but you may leave the premises on more than one occasion each day.
Our homesitters tell us that they enjoy their trips out visiting local towns, beauty spots, National Trust properties or taking country walks. Shops, museums and galleries are among the varied attractions of city home sits.
When in the client’s home, homesitters seize the opportunity to catch up on letter-writing, reading, crosswords, cataloguing photographs, embroidery, painting etc, whilst also enjoying the amenities of the client’s property and the company of their pets.
How long are homesits?
The average length of an assignment is about two weeks, but there are lots of opportunities to sit for weekends – or considerably longer periods: you choose!
How far afield will I travel?
Homesitters’ travel allowance to and from homesits and preliminary meetings are reimbursed by our clients. To keep these costs to a minimum we try to select homesitters who live within 80 miles of an assignment.
If the assignment is very specialised, or booked at short notice, we may well have to bring a homesitter from a great distance. In these circumstances, the client would be expected to reimburse full mileage at the standard rate.
Some homesitters like to be offered homesits in their local area rather than going further afield. They feel more comfortable on home territory – they know where the best shops are and are familiar with local travelling conditions etc. For other homesitters a major attraction of home and pet sitting is the chance to travel further afield, combining homesits with visits to family or friends. We like to accommodate homesitters’ preferences in this respect – but not by disadvantaging clients. Whilst the opportunities to travel far afield are limited, you can increase your chances by:
- nominating other base(s), close relations’ homes perhaps, from where you would set off for assignments
- sharing costs to travel beyond the nominal 80 mile radius i.e. putting yourself on a level playing field with more local homesitters.
May I homesit alone – or do you only accept couples?
We have many homesitters who homesit very successfully on their own, and they tell us that staying in a client’s home is much more welcoming than being alone in a hotel or guesthouse! This is particularly the case when a ‘solo’ homesitter is making a return visit to a regular client: both parties enjoy the continuity and familiarity. Those sitting as couples, on the other hand, often say how much they enjoy one of the few occupations which permits them to take their partner with them.
Will I be insured?
Yes, we provide employer’s liability insurance which covers you (and your partner, if applicable) whilst you are working for us. We also carry public liability and professional indemnity cover.
What if I'm asked to take the clients dog(s) out in my car for walks etc.?
The Highway Code states that drivers need to ensure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so that they cannot distract you while you are driving, or injure you or cause an accident if you were stop too quickly. The law recommends a seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog crate or guard as ways of restraining pets while driving, which the client is to provide you.
Neither Homesitters Ltd nor usually our homesitter's car insurance cover certain situations which could arise e.g. if a dog being transported by a homesitter destroys the rear seating.
Do I have to stay at the home all day?
Not unless you want to! But the aim of home and pet sitting is to look after the client’s property and animals, so our absence periods have to be limited. We aim to achieve a sensible balance between taking proper responsibility for our clients’ homes and pets, allowing you the chance to explore new areas.
Am I allowed visitors?
No. We request that you meet your friends or family away from the clients’ properties, during your permitted absence periods. This may seem rather restrictive, but understandably clients like to know the people who will be in their home.
Home and pet sitting is clearly a serious responsibility; what support do you give me?
As employees, our homesitters operate under our direction and they benefit from the company’s 35+ years of experience. You enjoy your homesits knowing that nothing is left to chance; we ensure that you and the client have a clear understanding of each other’s requirements, and our guidelines are designed to be in everybody’s best interests. We provide individual support for each of our homesitters from the date that they joined us.
One Administrator/Minder (whom you will have met at interview) will take personal responsibility for you: keeping in touch regularly, looking after your interests, and ensuring that we place you most appropriately. From her/him you will receive detailed guidance notes on home and pet sitting which are updated with regular newsletters.
Unlike our competitors, we provide 24 hour support for our homesitters (this is a human, not a telephone answering machine!), so if you have a problem on a homesit you have only to call us. In the event of a homesitter becoming ill or having a personal crisis which results in your needing to leave a homesit, we provide a replacement homesitter very speedily.
Will home and pet sitting really suit me?
Home and pet sitting appeals to people from a wide range of backgrounds who enjoy a break and a bit of an adventure – but who want the security of a professional company backing them. Many homesitters miss the company of pets and welcome the opportunity to “borrow” our clients’ pets; other homesitters do not have pet experience – but want to utilise their many years’ experience of running their homes.
Whatever your skills and situation, it is attitude which is key: respect for other people’s homes and possessions and a desire to provide a good service are the star qualities. Ideal homesitters are adaptable, sensitive people who take their lead from the clients – and put themselves in the clients’ shoes. With these attributes, and a sense of humour, you should find home and pet sitting rewarding and fun!
Our recruitment process is, of necessity, lengthy and detailed. Because of the nature of the service we provide, it is essential that our clients and our homesitters have complete trust in us, and a clear understanding of what home and pet sitting involves. So – please – before putting pen to paper, consider carefully whether you will be comfortable being away from your own home, social life and interests – you can, of course, limit the length of homesits that you accept. It is particularly important that applicants who plan to sit alone have their own hobbies and interests to occupy their time on sits. Also, are you and your partner equally interested in the idea of home and pet sitting? It does not work if one partner is reluctant.
Click here to download our Become a homesitter leaflet.