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Things To Think About When Looking For A Trustworthy House Sitter

Warren's picture

Things To Think About When Looking For A Trustworthy House Sitter

If you're going to have a stranger putting their feet on the sofa or raiding your fridge, let it be a house-sitter rather than a burglar. House sitters can be a way to provide good protection against burglary, theft and unexpected issues with your property while you are away from your house in Baja California Sur.  Maybe you don't want your pets at the kennel for weeks on end, or you don't want to come back to an empty house and find that it really is, well, empty.  Expect something to go wrong. Chances are, nothing will. After all, that's why you have a house sitter – to be there so things don't go wrong. But a house can have problems through the fault of no one, and that's where a house sitter can be invaluable. Yet even if you hire a house sitter, that doesn't automatically mean your home is protected. The question is did you get a house sitter that is honest and trustworthy. In this document we will look at some of the things you can consider when looking for and selecting the right person. When it comes to insurance, having someone looking after your property could be a godsend if you are planning to go away for more than 30 consecutive days as many insurance policies are void after this time. You will need to check any house-sitter is covered for accidents or damage to your property.

Three years ago we had to leave for almost three weeks. We had two great friends of ours that came twice a day to feed our two dogs and checked the house. It was very stressful to see the two dogs constantly looking for us.  This year we had to leave again for just ten days but this time we found a very trustworthy person to stay in our house the entire time while we were gone.  No stress this time and we actually had some fun. Here are some screening tips so you can leave your worries at home and enjoy yourself while on vacation.

How Do I Know It Is Safe to Hire a House Sitter?

Most house sitting arrangements work out well, but problems can arise. Getting good references along with thorough vetting and signing a written contract are your best protections against damage and liability issues. If you plan to be away from home for several weeks or months, you are probably better off hiring a house sitter than you would be leaving your house vacant. Your house sitter should be willing to sign a written contract with you. Consider working with your attorney to develop a contract that protects both you and your house sitter. 

Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute - Start Your Search Early And Be Very Thorough

Remember you are going entrust your most valuable possession to this person this is serious. Planning for this should take a few weeks or a month to find and select the right person.  Personally I do not let this job go to people that I do not know. Remember good house sitters may also fill their schedules up, especially during the summer when the snow birds head back north or during Mexican vacations or the holidays.  We all have had our friends tell us about their guy and how good he is but do you know that person. I mean really know that person. It takes time to check references, do back ground checks, negotiate a fair price (remember you get what you pay for), and have the potential house sitter come for a preliminary interview and visit. I also recommend that you create a very detailed instruction manual on how and when to do things on the property to include photos. If you have a pets like we do the house sitter needs to be introduced to them early to find out how they interact. Some guard dogs will not accept some people so make sure this person is accepted by your pets. Sometimes they know best!!  Starting early means you can have a plan B for a backup sitter should anything happen.

Look For Quality of Character

Many of us have friends that have already went through this experience and know someone who they think is consistently reliable and trustworthy. This is all the better if he or she is already familiar with your home. If you do not completely know someone who is recommended as a house sitter, you can ask around your friends for references about that person in a much less formal and personable way, which may be more comfortable to you. However, be sure to ask for at least three references, and check them. You want someone mature, responsible, normal – without addictions. We also insist on a background check which is not difficult to do. If the person is a Mexican national the Estatal police can do this for you. Honest people will not be offended by this, as they understand the importance of having someone reliable caring for your home and pets. When you finally zero in on a potential hire who has passed those conditions, conduct an preliminary interview at a restaurant for a gut check (see below) and then bring them to your house with all household members present, including any pets that will be staying behind while you leave.

Preliminary Interview – Overview Of What The Job Entails

Before committing to hiring someone, explain to him or her, what the rules are in your house, as well as thoroughly going over what the job will entail. Typically, sitters are allowed no more than three hours away from your property each day and must be at home at night. For instance, let him know whether you are comfortable with his partner staying over, his friends coming to the house, and whether they are allowed to stay the night. Also let him know if there are rooms or items that you do not wish to be used in your absence, doors that need to be shut for ventilation, and whether he should feel free to help himself to anything in the kitchen and/or liquor cabinet. If he needs to take his shoes off inside the front door, check the mail every day, walk the dog twice per day, feed the dog, and water the plants twice per week, make sure you go over all of that, as well. Should you have special instructions, like when garbage days is, picking up items from the store, or running the de-humidifier twice per day, go over those as well and make sure the house sitter is WILLING and capable of performing the task. (You may, of course, opt to have another person take care of those special tasks for you such as any plumbing or electrical, but be sure to let the house sitter know that if it is the case.) Tell the person that you have a very detailed instruction manual for them so their job will be much less stressful and easier for them. Discuss the amount of pay that you will provide them and any other important matters. Be prepared to answer questions they will have.  Remember they are also deciding if they want to work for you.  If your reach an agreement its time to bring them to your house.  Why didn’t we just do the preliminary interview at the house?  Why expose your property to someone you decide is not going to be your choice!!

You Have Selected A Person - Lay Out The Rules and Requirements

When you finally zero in on a person to hire who has passed those conditions above, and then bring them to your house with all household members present, including any pets that will be staying behind while you leave.  This is the next step in determining if you have made the right choice. If you pets approve, the dogs don’t eat the person you are on the right track.  If everyone is still in agreement and you still have a green light proceed to the next step.  Now is the time to bring out your detailed instruction manual and take them on a tour of your property. Tell them that everything is in the manual and you know they will not remember all the things you are going to show them.  The last thing to do at this point is let them know when you want them to be at your property.

You and your house sitter should come to an agreement about food, utilities and tasks. Your house sitter may ask for a certain amount of money per week to cover the cost of fresh food. Most house sitters expect to provide their own food, however, and will only need money from you to purchase pet food or other house-related necessities. These details should be included in your written manual and contract. Dig out your appliance instruction manuals and put them in a folder for your house sitter.

Utility payments are negotiable. You may wish to pay for basic utilities. We use a web based online program called SimplePay. https://simplepay.com.mx/ Simple Pay allows you to pay your bills where ever you are hassle free. The only one that is not currently on their program is SAPA water bill.  We provide our house sitter with envelopes that have titles on the outside of the envelop with the amount of pesos and the instructions on what the funds are for and how they are to be used. Envelopes we use are one for Gardener, House keeper, Emergencies and Repairs. You might add one for Pipa Truck and any others you need. Based on your own usage, you might need to charge your house sitter for excess electricity, natural gas and telephone use. You will also need to discuss computer and cable / satellite TV usage. Remember to provide your WiFi router key so they can use their own computer to access the internet. We NEVER allow a house sitter to use our computers. If you will only be away for a week or two, consider paying those bills for your house sitter.

CAUTION – Only Inform A Limited Amount Of Friends, Family, Emergency Contacts, and Neighbors That You Will Be Gone!!

Do Not Tell everyone and there brother that you are leaving. DO NOT POST IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA!!! It is not a good idea to even talk about your trip in public where strangers can overhear your conversation with your friends. That’s one of the ways bad guys know when you are gone. Another way is that your friends that know your plans will accidentally tell someone and then that person may tell someone etc etc. They don’t mean to but it happens.  We don’t even tell our house keeper or the gardener.  If they ask we just are gone for a day trip but most often they don’t even ask. If you are going to be gone for several months then you might need to tell them that your house sitter will be on the property at all times.

It is very important to provide the house sitter with a detailed itinerary so they know where you will be going and how to reach you via cell phone, email, or through the hotel or family where you are staying. Get your sitter’s contact information so that you can reach him/her directly instead of just through your home. You should put personal contacts on your Emergency Contacts list, such as the neighbor who knows the security alarm code, be sure to let those contacts know that you will have a house sitter during your absence and that you or the house sitter may call upon them in case of emergency.

LOCAL EMERGENCY PEOPLE -  CONTACT – FUNCTION - WHEN

  • Veterinarian:
  • Property Repairs:
  • Gardener:  
  • House Keeper:   
  • Neighbors:
  • Police Commander: 
  • Security Alarm Company:

Ask your neighbors and your neighborhood watch to be on the lookout for unscheduled visits or activity that appears to go against your established house rules. You might even schedule friends to come by the house for special tasks during your absence such as taking the dog to a grooming salon or some other prearrange task so that they can check the condition of the house while you are away.  Remember to notify the alarm company of who is on your property and provide them with the persons contact info.

Lock Away and Hide Valuables

Putting some level of trust into your house sitter is a given. However, this does not mean you should leave your valuables out in front of someone you do not know very well. Should the sitter think it’s harmless to invite a few friends over, for instance, or if you allow that, one of the friends may just be tempted to steal since his job is not at stake. Do not show the house sitter the location of any secret safes or stash spots, and lock away all valuables. If you have weapons, lock them up unloaded and lock the ammunition away in a completely separate secret location. Do not grant a house sitter access to weapons under any circumstances.

Last Thing If Your Are In Baja California Sur Mexico

You need to prepare a document that gives your house sitter the authorization to be on your property. If something happens and authorities get involved your house sitter maybe escorted off your property without this document.   See Sample Form Below

These are just a few of our thoughts and you may have additional things that you do in considering and selecting a house sitter.
 

Vecinos Cooperando y Colaborando de Las El Centenario

 

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

NOTICE OF AUTHORITY TO ENTER PROPERTY

EL AVISO DE AUTORIDAD PARA ENTRAR EN LAS PROPIEDAD

 

This form gives details of the persons who hold keys and have authority to enter my premises in my absence.

Este formulario da detalles de las personas que sostienen las llaves y tienen la autoridad para entrar en mis propiedad en mi ausencia.

 

Names of property owners Los nombres de los dueños de la propiedad;

1.____________________________________     2. ____________________________________

 

Property Address La Dirección de la propiedad;

### Calle ##, Mza ##, Lote##, Norta y Hernan Cortes, Fracc Comitan, El Centenario, a Paz, B.C.S., Mexico 23205

GPS Location Localización GPS:     GPS  ##° ##'##.##"  N  ###° ##' ##.##"  W

Contact details during absence (Mobile, land line and email)

Los detalles del contacto durante la ausencia (Móvil, correo electrónico y línea de tierra

Email:            ________________________

Cell:             USA:   ________________________                   Mexico: ___________________

Landline:      USA:   ________________________                   Mexico: ___________________

 

Name of persons authorized to enter property El nombre de las personas autorizadas para entrar en la propiedad;

 

  1. ________________________- Administrador de la Propiedad          Cell:  ________________________
  2. ________________________- Ama de llaves                                 Cell:  ________________________
  3. ________________________- Jardinero                                        Cell:  ________________________
  4. ________________________- Refacción                                       Cell:  ________________________
  5. Comandante Luis Enrique Navarro Cordova                                   Cell:  ________________________
  6. ________________________ - Gigabyte Alarms                             Cell:  _____________________

 

Address of persons authorized to enter property La dirección de las personas autorizadas para entrar en la propiedad;

  1. ________________________- Administrador de la Propiedad          Adrs:  ________________________
  2. ________________________- Ama de llaves                                 Adrs:  ________________________
  3. ________________________- Jardinero                                        Adrs:  ________________________
  4. ________________________- Refacción                                       Adrs: ________________________
  5. Comandante Luis Enrique Navarro Cordova                                   Adrs:  ________________________
  6. ________________________ - Gigabyte Alarms                             Adrs:  _____________________

 

Date of departure from property La fecha de salida de la propiedad:   ##/abril/2017

Date of return to property La fecha de regreso a la propiedad:    ##/octubre/2017

 

Signature of property owners and date Las firmas de los dueños de la propiedad y fecha;

 

__________________________________           _______________________________ Date: _22/abril/2017_

 

NOTE:   This authorization is no longer valid once the owners return.    Esta autorización no es válido una vez que los propietarios regresen.

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