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Author Topic: Ground rules for house sitting - do you think this is reasonable?  (Read 22178 times)

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Re: Ground rules for house sitting - do you think this is reasonable?
« Reply #30 on: April 27, 2014, 03:04:23 PM »
When you linked to that previous thread about Jenny I remembered her instantly. My first thought was "Holy cow, don't use her!" And I base that on her refusal to take responsibility for your needs when asking for a favor. I agree with the posters above who feel her staying there is likely to produce unhappiness and even more family tension.

The safety of your cat and to a slightly lesser degree your home is what should drive your decision. Get a professional cat sitter. Some will even stay at your home, and this is what I prefer. I know because it is their business that they are going to take good care of both my cats and home.

You really don't want to try an experiment here. You want a responsible, caring, trustworthy person--and Jenny has yet to prove that she is such a person. I strongly encourage you not to put your cat in the hands of someone whose prior behavior is less than what you expect. You don't want regrets.


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Re: Ground rules for house sitting - do you think this is reasonable?
« Reply #31 on: April 27, 2014, 03:14:21 PM »
Count me as one who thinks that she needs to know expectations and how to handle any situation where she is living in someone else's home.

Hope all goes well, and have a nice trip!


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Re: Ground rules for house sitting - do you think this is reasonable?
« Reply #32 on: April 27, 2014, 03:39:19 PM »
I think you have a reasonable list of expectations, for the most part.  Some of them a little unreasonable.

I think you're being a little unreasonable about the toiletries.  Chances are she's going to pack up her own supplies, but I think you should relax your stance on using shampoo and the basics.  If you have some insanely expensive product you don't want her using, tuck it away in a drawer and even tell her specifically that this is the one thing she's not allowed to use, but anything else is fine.

I think you need to relax a little with the food.  She's sparing you some big expense and hassle with boarding or hiring a professional sitter, I think you can eat the cost of a box of cereal.  You don't even know if you're going to pay her right now.  She cares for your cat and house for free, I think that's definitely worth a box of cereal.  If it were me, I would be stocking up the fridge and pantry with some easy foods and snacks specifically for the sitter.  If you're concerned about not having something available upon your return, you can leave some cash behind and ask her to pick up some milk or cereal or bread or whatever, so you have some basics available to you until you can get to the store.  I think it's reasonable to tell her what she not allowed to have.  It might be easier for you to take anything you don't want her touching and put it all in one place.  Then you can say, "Help yourself to anything you want except for what in in this cupboard.  This is off limits."

If you're really worried about her having people over and partying, put a full out "no friends" rule.  Fine to allow Graham or her BFF, but nobody else.  Period.

It's fine to tell her where you expect her to sleep.  "I'm going to have you sleep in the spare room.  I just put on fresh sheets.  There are extra blankets here in this closet if you need them." 

Have written instructions for pet care, especially if they need medicines, and also have a number for the vet available and also a means of paying for any veterinary care that might be needed, whether you leave behind some cash, a credit card, or employ a friend or family member who can cover any expenses until you get back. 

Again, I think your list is for the most part is very reasonable, and I think you might be worrying too much (understandable) and over-thinking things (also understandable).  I did some house sitting at that age and was thrilled with the chance to get away from my parents and I would get to have my boyfriend over.  Woo-hoo!  I would hope she would be on her best behavior, and even if she's sloppy, do a good clean before you get back, and get things all nice and tidy for you. 


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Re: Ground rules for house sitting - do you think this is reasonable?
« Reply #33 on: April 27, 2014, 03:41:35 PM »
Jenny does not sound ready to take a JOB with the level of responsibility that a living thing (cat) and a household entail.

I'd suggest someone else as the sitter or take the cat and its supplies over to BF's house to let Jenny take care of it with help from his parents and her BF. 

Put a stop to the mail, unplug the tv & router (internet), and don't leave house keys behind with anyone but the landlord or a responsible adult.

I'd be unable to relax on a five day trip under the circumstances of Jenny being the one "taking care of" things that were important to me or having access to keys to the car, computer, cat, etc.

I had a younger SIL in college.  We had to make sure that she couldn't get into our house when we walked in to find her and a "friend" there, drinking beer (both underage).  I don't know what else might have gone on - she told VorGuy that he was "just a friend" - but we did not want to get a reputation as a place for underage kids to go party with her...even thirty years or more years ago, that could lead to disasters. 

Our electric typewriter THEN may not have been quite as expensive as a cheap laptop & printer now - but we didn't have spare money sitting in our bank accounts to replace things that got broken, stolen, or just plain mislaid (how did the typewriter get into the attic?).
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Re: Ground rules for house sitting - do you think this is reasonable?
« Reply #34 on: April 27, 2014, 06:54:37 PM »
I think the problem is that you think that you're doing her a favour by giving her a parent-free place to stay for a week, but the fact is that she's doing you the favour by saving you the cost of pet boarding and house sitting, and keeping your house safe.

I haven't read the other thread but from other commenters it seems like Jenny is irresponsible enough that she needs a list of rules like this. That isn't a reason to go ahead and do it - that's a reason to not let her house sit.

If you do decide to go ahead, consider the cost of food and toiletries - even if she does eat a whole box of cereal and a six pack of beans - as an alternative cost of pet care and house sitting.

ETA I do think most of the rules, such as staying out of your bedroom and not having overnight guests, are perfectly reasonable. I just find expecting your house sitter to replace food and provide their own toiletries quite... ungracious is too strong a word but I can't find a better one, and that ruins the whole list for me.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2014, 10:56:11 PM by lollylegs »


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Re: Ground rules for house sitting - do you think this is reasonable?
« Reply #35 on: April 27, 2014, 07:11:10 PM »
Her taking the job saves you from paying someone, plus you know she'd like to get out of the house.  These are mutual favours - don't mistake that.

I was in a similar position a couple of years ago when we travelled to the USA for 4 weeks.  A friend who was between houses stayed to catsit.  She saved on rent for that month and solved a problem for her, we saved money.

We too left a note.  It said how we generally cared for the cats (ie. allowed outside when someone is home, but must be inside at night, and if possible, when noone one home (sometime this cannot be helped if the cat has gone wandering though), how often and what we fed them, and also how long the cats could be left for if she needed to be away overnight and what to leave out for them in that event.

We also left her $200 to buy more cat food/litter or any other household expenses that arose, the number for our vet and the number for my parents who agreed to cover the costs if an emergency arose.

I have no idea who she had over or what she did but my cats were alive and well, only $50 of the $200 was used, and the house was cleaner than when I left.  That was all I expected.  If you feel you need to specify things like not snooping through your things or not throw wild parties, then she's not the person to cat sit for you.


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Re: Ground rules for house sitting - do you think this is reasonable?
« Reply #36 on: April 27, 2014, 08:27:06 PM »

If someone where housesitting and pet sitting for me for free, I would plan on stocking the fridge and pantry with the basics of food and snacks for the period - cereal, milk, coffee, some snacks, some basic meal stuff.

I think it's definitely appropriate to give someone a list of important information - how to turn off the water/gas, where the circuit breaker is, garbage collection information, instructions on operating the TV, feeding schedule for pets, vet #. You can also clarify some other things, like "I've left the food you can help yourself to in this cupboard" or a no visitors rule.

For a teen, I'd probably go into a bit more detail - "I've made up the guest room with fresh sheets. I'll close the door to the bedroom and study - you don't need to go in there at all." and that sort of thing, because they may need more guidance.

But if I didn't trust someone to stay out of personal stuff, or not break/loan/lose my belongings, I wouldn't get them as a housesitter, period. Because they're going to be in my house with full access when I'm not there, and if they're not trustworthy there's nothing I can do about it.

However, if I didn't trust someone


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Re: Ground rules for house sitting - do you think this is reasonable?
« Reply #37 on: April 27, 2014, 08:45:02 PM »
Without knowing Jenny (or having read the earlier thread), I can only say that if Jenny is the kind of person who doesn't know the things outlined in the rules already, I wouldn't trust her in my house or with my cat.

I think the rules are completely reasonable.

But to have to spell them out for someone makes me think they aren't likely to follow them. I say find someone you can trust to be an actual grown-up and show the proper degree of responsibility.


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Re: Ground rules for house sitting - do you think this is reasonable?
« Reply #38 on: April 27, 2014, 09:43:58 PM »
Going back and reading the old post, I think that unless this kid has done a LOT of growing up recently, I would not want her in my home while I was out of the country.  She sounds far too immature to think things through properly, (to me).  I think the rules OP has would be a good guideline for her to follow, but I don't know if I'd trust her TO follow them.  And if I couldn't trust her to do as requested, why have her there at all? 
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Re: Ground rules for house sitting - do you think this is reasonable?
« Reply #39 on: April 27, 2014, 10:03:46 PM »
With the exception of using food / toiletries (is Jenny expected to replace the TP she uses?!) I think the rules are pretty reasonable. I think you'd be fine in writing them out clearly and leaving them somewhere visible, like the fridge.

Obviously, with a mature, experienced adult, this would be over-the-top and condescending, but because Jenny is still young (and somewhat immature) I think it would be wise.


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Re: Ground rules for house sitting - do you think this is reasonable?
« Reply #40 on: April 27, 2014, 10:53:23 PM »
I have not read the other thread, but I will assume since you are considering allowing her to do this, you believe she can at least take care of the cat. 

It seems like you are viewing this as you doing her a favor by letting her stay in your place.  If that's how she sees it, I suppose your rules are ok.   

However, I think most people would see this as her doing you a favor.  It would cost me at least $100 dollars to hire someone to come feed my pets for 5 days, and well over $200 to board them for 5 days.  I think not allowing her access to the food and/or a reasonable amount of toiletries is a little off.

I agree with the previous posters - if this is not an arrangement you are really comfortable with, don't do it.


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Re: Ground rules for house sitting - do you think this is reasonable?
« Reply #41 on: April 27, 2014, 11:12:19 PM »
I agree with those saying your expectations for her not to eat your food are completely unreasonable. When I've had a friend housesit I not only gave her free reign to eat whatever she wanted, I took her shopping to stock up on what she wanted to have around for the week and left her $40 for anything we may have overlooked. Yes, she was thrilled to get out of her parents' house for a week, but she was also doing me a huge favor taking care of my cats, getting my mail, getting the trash out, etc.

I think the rest of your requests are okay, especially if she's trustworthy but somewhat clueless about living alone. Don't forget to leave her keys for the house and mailbox.


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Re: Ground rules for house sitting - do you think this is reasonable?
« Reply #42 on: April 28, 2014, 12:01:02 AM »
As an early birthday present, my boyfriend is paying for us to go to Portugal for five days. (I've never been to Portugal so I'm very excited!) We'd be out of the country from early Monday morning to late Saturday, and boyfriend's younger sister Jenny (from this thread if anyone remembers has offered to come and house/cat sit for us.

This isn't the worst idea I've ever heard, and it would save us the expense and the cat the stress of a cattery. I'm fairly confident we can trust her not to throw a mad party or burn the house down, but I'm not sure what sort of state the house would be in when we got back. Jenny is not known for her tidiness. I was thinking of agreeing on the condition she follows some basic ground rules as follows:

1. Our bedroom is Out Of Bounds. (We have a spare room; I'm not relegating her to the sofa; I'm not that mean.) If she wants to have her boyfriend over we're not bothered; (they'll both be 18 by that point and he stays over at her parents' house, so they're obviously okay with it) but they have to put up with the single bed in the spare room. reasonable.

2. She has to leave the house in the condition she found it. That means emptying bins before she leaves on Saturday, absolutely no washing up is to be left for us to do, any rooms she has used (so bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom) to be left at least tidy.unreasonable.

3. I'm thinking of arranging the cupboards in the kitchen so we can say something like 'help yourself to anything in this cupboard, but not this one. Anything you use from this shelf of the fridge you will need to replace.' I'm kind of thinking along the lines, pasta, rice etc she can help herself to, and anything we leave that won't keep like milk or fruit she can just have, but if she uses a whole box of cereal or a six tins of beans, I'd expect her to replace them. I'd also expect her not to help herself to any toiletries.unreasonable.

4. Any books, dvds etc she wants to borrow she can, but they're not to leave the house and they have to go back where she got them.reasonable not to leave the house, unreasonable to expect them to be put away and not perhaps left in the TV room of whatever.

5. We'd leave written instructions on cat feeding, which we'd expect her to follow.more than reasonable - essential.

6. No overnight guests except Graham, her boyfriend. (Nick (my boyfriend) and I like him, he's very nice, seems trustworthy and he's a bit more mature than Jenny, which is admittedly not always difficult.) If she wants to have friends over during the day that's fine, but no one can stay, partly due to a lack of space and also to minimise people we don't know staying in our house.reasonable.

7. If anything gets broken or 'goes missing' (see above re friends), it's on her to replace.reasonable.

She's desperate to move out of her parent's house ASAP, so I think this might be a good exercise in 'being a grown up for a week', both in terms of her having a short practise at it and proving to her parents (dad especially) she can.

What do you think? Is this reasonable or over the top? She's generally quite sensible, if a little childish over certain things. Nick is in agreement with me over this one - not a terrible idea in theory, but unsure of the practicalities. We've not discussed with her whether or not she expects to be paid I think you should pay her at least something - perhaps a third or half of what the cattery would've charged you seems like a good deal for both of you., but I'm assuming at this point in time she doesn't, as she made the offer. If she does, we'll have that conversation when it comes to it. I've never had a house and cat to have to entrust to someone else before, so any thoughts would be appreciated!

I just want to say that I haven't read the other thread before answering, because I wanted to answer on my instincts.  I also haven't read anybody else's answers in this thread before answering for the same reason.  I'm interested to see how others feel because I sometimes house-sit for friends of ours and their 3 dogs and I have on occassion asked others to house-sit / dog-mind for us.  Very interested to see if the "rules" we have in our house would be considered acceptable by everybody here.


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Re: Ground rules for house sitting - do you think this is reasonable?
« Reply #43 on: April 28, 2014, 01:26:55 AM »
i think that most of the rules are reasonable but I am basing that on your getting a mature responsible person to housesit. but you're not - you're talking about a barely 18 YO who wants to be out of her parents' home and will be moving her BF in for five days of adult-free bliss. yeah, that sounds like a good idea  ::)

If you do insist on using Jenny, I would say:
1. reasonable but they probably will use your room anyway, so I would hide/lock anything you don't want her to find.
2. reasonable - word this as "please make sure all the trash bins are empty before you leave and don't leave us any laundry or mess". again, it probably won't be perfect.
3. no. I would put some things within easy reach (like a basket on the counter with disposables, coffee, sugar, ceraeal etc) but that would be it. If you have expensive items - hide or lock them. and why wouldn't she use your shampoo or body wash? to me that is a given when you are a houseguest.

4. reasonable

5. reasonable

6. I would actually say no guests other than the bf at all. you don't want your home to become "party central", and you are right - who wants a bunch of ~18 YOs that you don't know in your house unsupervised?

7. No. You will have to differentiate between "normal use" or "normal wear and tear" and vandalism. so if a dinner plate breaks because she accidently dropped it, that is on you. if her BF threw a hissy fit and put his fist through the wall, that's on her.

personally - i actually would make this a 'job', and not a favor. write up a list of your expectations and rules, and how much you will be paying her.

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Re: Ground rules for house sitting - do you think this is reasonable?
« Reply #44 on: April 28, 2014, 02:08:04 AM »
Reasonable to expect her to clean up after herself. I sure wouldn't want to return from a vacation, tired and possibly jet-lagged, to find I couldn't use my kitchen until I'd washed up a load of someone else's dishes.

Given her age and that she is family, and that she has never lived away from parents, I think it's reasonable to lay down a list of rules.

I had a house/catsitter while I was away for a month overseas, and when I came back, everything was pretty much fine, the only thing was he hadn't put on fresh sheets (the only bed was mine, no spare room). It was a little annoying after coming home from a month away and a 10-hour flight, but then again, we hadn't talked about it in advance, he'd done a good job looking after my animals, nothing was broken or missing, and the place was reasonably clean. He'd saved me a bundle in pet services. So while it was a drag to come home to a bed that I had to change, it wasn't the end of the world.  If I were in his shoes, changing the sheets would be a given, but I guess not to everyone. So if I ever need a housesitter again, I might just say, "Oh, and if you don't mind, before you leave can you put on fresh sheets? I'll be coming in from a long haul flight."

Again, given Jenny's age and maturity level, I don't think it's unreasonable to say (in nicer words), "please don't make us come home and find our house in a tip."

As for the food, I think it's fine to separate what she can and cannot help herself to. I've house-sat before and generally I don't touch their food, save for a few basics like a bit of oil for cooking, etc.