Your Responsibilities

Photo by .faramarz

Much of house sitting and swapping is based on a good reputation and solid references. You do not want to be known as that person who left behind cigarette burns in a couch cushion. Throwing bashes may also be frowned upon.

But to ensure you get good references for sitting, you need to be on your toes at all times. If someone tells you to keep the house clean, go the extra mile and clean until the whole home is sparkling.

Typically, you’ll be asked to do the following duties:

-Taking care of any pets. Do not volunteer to do so if you are not experienced with pet care, most people treat their pets like their children.

-Watering plants and taking care of yard work.

-Bringing in the mail or newspaper.

-Keeping the area clean and tidy.

-Taking out the of trash, and recycling (if possible).

-General inspection of the house to make sure there are no problems or damage occurring.

For swapping, the general rule is to treat the home like you want the other person to treat your home. Any responsibilities, like pets, can be discussed beforehand.

Your Rights

Photo by Todd Huffman

As a house sitter, it might be a good idea to ask the owners to stock up on cleaning and pet supplies before they leave. Ask about parking. While you may be responsible for paying bills, any veterinarian and animal medical expenses should be taken care of by the owner.

Ask the owners to write out a detailed list of everything required from you during your stay. This way, if you get improperly accused of not doing your job, you’ll have a list to prove otherwise.

As a sitter, it is also advisable to sit down with the homeowners to go through a legal document known as the House Sitting Agreement, which will include items like necessary security deposits. has a great template available to download. Read carefully!

While swappers don’t really have a legal document available, it’s a good idea to draft an informal document detailing the terms of your exchange.

House Sitting Resources

There are a ton of resources out there to look for house sitting opportunities, but unfortunately the most reputable websites require paid memberships. The cost varies and can be as low as $20 or as high as $95. However, there are also free sites with good reputations if you want to do some background checks.

You can also place an ad in a local paper or magazine, or use an online classifieds site like CraigsList or Kijiji (popular in Canada). If you’re seriously into house sitting, setting up a webpage like an online resume is a great idea. Tip: in your ad, say you are willing to pay a security deposit, provide a criminal background check, and references.

Photo by SuperFantastic

Home Swapping Resources

Since a home swap is less of a business venture than house sitting, it’s wise to use websites requiring paid subscriptions for best results. Most cost around $100 per year, so people take the swap seriously.

Community Connection

Have you ever done house sitting or house swapping? We’d love to hear from you, especially if you have any more advice or tips you can share.