The main reason for getting a house & pet sitter is usually to have someone look after the pets. The added benefit of having a live-in sitter is that burglars loose interest in your house or unit. If you also have a dog, that's even better.
The burglar's selection process is simple. The unoccupied home with the easiest access, the greatest amount of cover, and with the best escape routes will be very tempting.
But it's not only burglars, you want to be prepared for. If you live in an area with the threat of natural disasters like bush fires or floods, it's also a plus to have someone present.
Let's take a closer look at some easy precautionary measures.
For the home owners:
Before you go away and leave your house & pet sitter in charge, make sure you do the following:
- Remove ladders and clutter from your yard & have the lawns mowed
- Have hedges trimmed, especially the ones that prevent natural surveillance
- Check the locks, also the one on your letterbox. Replace all locks and latches that are in need of repair.
- If you have a back to base alarm system, inform the company. They will need your house sitter's name & your house sitter may need a (personal) security password.
- Leave a list with emergency numbers and vet details near your phone(s)
- Leave a spare key with 1 neighbour or family member nearby and leave the contact details with your sitter. Never leave a spare key in an obvious place around the house
- Make arrangments about where to leave the car(s). If you always park in the garage or behind the house it's harder for burglars to work out whether someone is at home or not
- Make arrangments about the use of the car and let your sitter know where the (spare) key is
- Put your jewellery or other valuables in a safe
- Let your sitter know whether it's common to have strangers come by for electricity or water metering.
- Keep some spare batteries for the fire alarm and let your sitter know where they are
- Make sure you have a pet travel crate ready and let your sitter know where it is
- If you have a box packed with things to take with you in case of an emergency (birth certificates, insurance documents etc), seal or lock it well and let the sitter know where it is. Alternatively leave it with a family member.
- Introduce your sitter to the neighbours
- Take your time to explain to your sitter what you expect in terms of security and time spent at home.
For the house sitter:
- Always close & lock all windows when you go out, even if it's just for 5 minutes.
- Never leave a spare key in an obvious place (under the door mat, in a flower pot, ...)
- Always have the details of the owner's friend / relative / neighbour who has the spare key on you when you go out. (As a bonus: if you ever accidentally lock yourself out, at least you don't have to call a lock smith straight away)
- Don't leave valuables behind the window for everyone to see them.
- Bring the mail in every day
- Don't forget to put out and bring in the garbage bins. If you think you'll get mixed up with the days, just set weekly phone or email reminders for the duration of your sit. Do this the day you move in and you won't forget about it.
- Be discrete. Don't share any information about your house sit (or the fact that your own property is sitting empty) with others.
- Never let anyone in the house that you don't know. Ask an ID and/or check with the company in case someone is persistent before letting them in.
- Check the ways out of the house in case of a fire. (Our current house sit house has crimsafe security flyscreens on most windows, so there's no way out there in case of an emergency)
- Always leave your keys in the same spot so you don't have to think in case of an emergency
The more safety precautions you take in and around your property, the more you put off potential criminals.
Having a house sitter at your place & having done the effort of preparing yourself, your property and your sitter, you'll have confidence and peace of mind while you're away.
Enjoy your trip!
(Image by Will Bullas)
At the end of a medium or long term house sit you better give the fridge a scrub to make sure it's odour free and clean for the owners. If you haven't got much experience cleaning fridges, you may want to follow my fridge cleaning routine:
- Unplug the fridge. (Unless you've got lots of fresh food left that has to go back in asap and / or you don't mind the beeping noises the fridge will start making if you leave the door open for too long)
- Take all the food out, check the expiry dates and put everything that's still fresh in a supermarket cooler bag.
- Discard any expired and/or dodgy products.
- Carefully take out shelves and drawers. Give them a good wash with soapy water (use dish washing liquid, not harsh chemicals!).
- Rinse well with water or water with some baking soda added. (2-3 tablespoons of baking soda / 500ml)
- Wash the inside of the fridge with soapy water. Rinse with water with baking soda. Make sure you reach all the corners. Don't forget the rubbery seals (and its grooves) and the upper and bottom side of the door.
- Wipe everything dry with a clean rag or towel and insert the shelves and drawers back in the fridge.
- Switch the fridge back on on the right temperature setting so you the food can go back in. Make sure you give bottles and jars a good wipe first as they can get sticky.
- Carefully clean the outside of the fridge with an appropriate product. For stainless steel fridges use a special stainless steel cleaner. Only use paper towel or soft sponges so you don't make any scratches!
- Vacuum clean the 'grill' underneath the fridge to remove the dust.
- If you leave an open packet of baking soda in the fridge, it will absorb any future odors.
- At the end of your house sit, you could do some basic grocery shopping for the home owners so they don't come back to an empty fridge.
TIP: If you make a little list upon arrival in the house of what's left in the fridge and which brands, it's easy to restock with the products the owners actually use.
At least you'll know whether they use skimmed milk or full cream milk etc.
The owners will appreciate your thoughtfullness.
Congrats! The fridge is now clean!