Every once in a while, one of your friends or neighbors will go out of town on vacation, a business trip, or for otherwise personal reasons. Offering to house sit for them during their absence is not only a big help, but a good favor and is likely to be reciprocated should you ever go away. This article offers steps on how to care for their home, pets, plants, etc. by house sitting.
- Find out the details of their trip. Make sure you know what day and time they are leaving, and what day and time they plan to return. Most importantly, find out what tasks they want you to take care of while they are away. This typically includes taking in their mail, watering plants, caring for their pet (if applicable), shovelling their driveway (in the event of snow), keeping an eye on their house for safety reasons, etc.
- Make sure you have all of the supplies you will need. If you're taking care of chores inside the house, you'll need a house key. Always ask for their cell phone/hotel number or e-mail address in case of an emergency. Most importantly, make sure you know where everything you will need is located, whether it be pet food or a garden hose.
- Assist them with their departure. Even if they refuse, offer to give your friend a ride to the airport instead of them taking a taxi. Ask them if they need help packing or would like to borrow anything of yours for their trip. There can be a lot of stress in preparing before embarking on a trip, so be as helpful as possible.
- Complete your tasks as requested. Once they are gone, fulfill your duties. Follow their exact instructions with your best effort, and be sure to give them a call as soon as possible if you don't understand something or a problem arises. Carrying out the most common tasks includes:
- Taking in the mail. Go to their house in the afternoon or evening to gather their mail. Bring it into their house if you have a key, or take it back to your house if you don't. When entering their house, put the mail neatly into piles with newspapers on the bottom, magazines in the middle, and envelopes on the top. Arrange these piles on a table or counter where they will easily find it. If you bring them back to your house, keep them in a box so you can easily give it to them upon their return.
- Caring for plants. Water all of the plants you are requested to, both indoor and outdoor. Give them plenty of water and do so either in the morning or evening if they are outdoors. Remember to turn off the hose or faucet when you finish.
- Caring for pets. Depending on the pet and your friend or neighbor's instructions, you could be feeding the pets, playing with them, walking them, cleaning up after them, etc. It solely depends on the type of pet. Most importantly, in any case, make sure the pet survives and does not get lost or run away.
- Shoveling snow. In the event of a snowstorm, be sure to shovel your friend's driveway and the sidewalk in front of their house, even if you weren't asked to. The snow will likely turn to ice within a few days, making it very difficult to shovel. If you want, gather a group of friends to help you out; the more you recruit, the less work you will have to do.
- Watching their house. Once a day, simply check around your friend or neighbor's house to make sure there is no vandalism, signs of a break-in, or other serious event. If there is, be sure to contact the police right away and alert your friend. Both the homeowner and house sitter can take steps to reduce the risk of theft or break in.
- Assist your friend when they return. Offer to pick them up from the airport, help them unpack, etc. Hopefully, your friend or neighbor will be appreciative and thankful for your help and will likely offer some kind of reward. At the very least, you can count on them to do the same for you when you go out of town.
- Write your tasks down on a piece of paper and bring it with you to their house to make sure you don't forget anything you're asked to do.
- Keep a list of the homeowner's emergency contacts with you when you go to their house.
- Make sure to completely lock the house door when you leave and take the key with you. The last thing you want to do is lock yourself out of their house. Even if it is your last day, hold on to the key and give it to them in person, just in case they are delayed in returning.
- Do not invite friends over to their house for a party or any other event, especially without the homeowner's permission. Be a good friend.
- Don't discard any mail that you might perceive as junk or unnecessary. Your friend or neighbor may not think the same way.
- Get in touch with the homeowner as soon as possible in the event of any kind of house or pet emergency. They will not appreciate being told when they return, and you may be held legally responsible for any loss or damage due to negligence.