Should you hire a house sitter?

Who will be looking after your property this holiday season?

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With the year quickly coming to an end and the December holidays looming around the corner, most of us have probably already planned or at least thought about your well-deserved break.  Unfortunately, before you can start packing those bags, there are a number of important things to consider and plenty of planning to be done, such as who will take care of your home, water the plants and most importantly take care of your pets.

Hiring a house sitter when there are no family or friends around to take care of your property and pets, has become a very popular and sought-after option, not only is it is cost-effective, but it gives you peace of mind that your home, garden and cherished pets are well looked after in your absence. 

Most home owners make use of house sitters for 2 main reasons. Firstly, to put the comfort of their pets first and in so doing help avoid the stress and expense of kennels and catteries, and secondly for security purposes, to help ensure that their property is safe, making sure that everything runs smoothly just as if they were at home. “Security is a top priority, leaving your property unoccupied for any length of time is risky as your home is far more likely to be burgled” cautioned Craig Hutchison, Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.

“It is advisable to contact your insurance service provider and your security company, to review your cover before you leave on holiday, to guarantee you are covered while away and to let them know you have a house sitter staying on the premises for that period of time. Some insurers require that the policy holder notify them if they going to leave their house unoccupied for 60 days or more. This is viewed as a change in risk and insurers may apply an additional premium for the period that the home is unoccupied” Craig continued.

Benefits:

Pets: Leaving your pet in a kennel/cattery can become quite costly and may expose them to unwanted ailments such as kennel cough. The stress-free environment house sitters provide to your pets - is by far the biggest bonus of having a pet sitter. Animals thrive on routine and get disruptive when their daily pattern of walks, playtime, and treats get thrown out of the window. A sitter will provide the same quantity of love and affection your pet is used to at a fraction of the cost. They are much happier in the familiarity of their own home and respond much better to a new carer than a new environment. You can enjoy your holiday with peace of mind that your pets are in good hands and can return home to calm and contented animals. 

Security: A house sitter will there to provide the daily routines of the house namely, taking out the garbage, collecting post, turning lights on and being there to supervise and pay the gardener. Numerous home owners occasionally depend on neighbours, friends or relatives to keep an eye on their uninhabited property while they are away, however at times home security can still be compromised  if a house is left empty. House sitters provide a visible presence and act as a 24-hour deterrent against burglars who watch and prey on activity-free homes. An un-mown lawn and a pile of rain-soaked newspapers, is only going to encourage the wrong kind of visitor to your home.

Maintenance: Depending on the duration of your holiday, this is not something that can be put on hold when you are away. Without regular maintenance your lawn and plants can die or suffer severe damage, so much so that reviving them could also come at a high cost. The largest cost saving may be related to emergency maintenance. House sitters are there to see the breakages before they become total failures, this may be spotting a leak or a burst pipe, broken fridge/freezer or geyser problems. They will be on hand to organise repairs in the event of a minor or major emergency, possibly saving you a lot of money.

Choosing the right person for the job

When recruiting a house sitter make sure that it’s through recommendations from friends or from a reputable company offering professional services which will include in-depth screening and verification. Some companies who offer these services include The Pet Sitters and Hire a House Sitter.  Take your time and ensure you have investigated all options and do your research about the person and organization. It is extremely important to end up choosing the right person for what you require as you need to completely trust this person and be happy with your choice, else you will not enjoy your holiday.

Most will assume the responsibilities such as performing general maintenance and making sure that everything runs smoothly, but you might have some special requirements such as ensuring the person is ‘pet friendly’ and even more importantly that your pets feel comfortable with the specific individual.

What services will they offer me?

It is always good to ensure give them a checklist of what you require your sitter to do. This will ensure they are informed beforehand and can ensure they cater to your specific requirements. Here are some suggestions of items to include:

In & around the home:

  • Perimeter checks
  • Arming of alarm
  • Electricity checks, fridge, freezer, geyser, pool etc.
  • Collecting of post and papers
  • Opening closing curtains, blinds etc.
  • Putting lights on and off
  • Watering of plants, in and outdoors
  • Back wash pool and add chemicals
  • Putting trash bin in and out
  • Send daily SMS feedback

For your pet:

  • Provide fresh food, water and treats daily
  • Administer medicines, vitamins, or any other special needs
  • Head to tail health check
  • General petting, playing or letting out pets
  • Indoor and outdoor clean-up of pet accidents
  • Daily SMS feedback with photo

What are the costs involved?

There are various options available, either overnight services or daily visits depending on your needs. Overnight services include actually living in your home whereas daily visits either once or twice a day just to stop by and check that everything is order. If you have pets, you might prefer them checking in twice a day or even staying overnight in order to give some extra TLC.  Though there are many private individuals and many other companies, we have a look at the two mentioned above to gain some more insight into the options available:

  • Hire a House Sitter offers overnight services ranging between R210 to R290 per night off season and R270 – R360 per night peak season. The more days you book, the lower the cost per night.
  • Pet Sitter offers daily visits from about R89 (1 visit per day) to R150 per day (2 visits per day) and offers you the choice between House Sitting or Pet Sitting.

Whether you prefer to stay informed of any issues that may affect your animals or property, or opt for a complete shutdown of information, you will be able to go on holiday knowing that someone is there keeping an eye on things, and to send you the occasional picture of Max or Sokkies for additional peace of mind. House sitters should definitely be a consideration for your next holiday.

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