Fancy making money doing very little whilst staying in luxurious homes?
House sitting might just be the thing for you then!
If you’re able to secure a long-term house-sitting contract, you might even manage to avoid paying rent and bills and if you work from home you could combine the two – work from home while house sitting.
- What’s involved?
- Working with a house and pet-sitting agency
- Become a self-employed house sitter and pet minder
- Could you be a home sitter?
- How much could I earn?
- Additional costs
You might be surprised that anyone would hire a house sitter, but an increasing number of people own more than one property or spend long periods of time away on business.
When house owners hear horror stories about squatters, discover that burglary rates are highest during holiday periods or realise that keeping a home occupied could lower their insurance premium, many decide to hire a house sitter.
There’s particularly a lot of work for house sitters over the summer holidays, with assignments all around the UK.
There’s quite a demand for those who are good with dogs, so if you’re comfortable with a pooch then you’ll be ideal – in fact if you’d particularly like to be a pet sitter then read our article on pet sitting.
House sitting involves living in someone’s home whilst they’re away. Your job is to keep things clean and tidy, maybe look after a pet and by your presence deter burglars.
Some agencies will also specialise in short-term sitting, where they provide people who’ll stay in your home all day waiting for the plumber or an elusive furniture delivery (we all know how annoying having to stay in can be!)
House minding is keeping an eye on an empty home with a regular – often daily – visit to water the plants, pick up the post and have a quick tidy.
As both a house sitter and house minder you can look after the houses of family and friends, but for regular work register with a reputable agency like Trusted Housesitters.
If you’re doing this independently, the owners should provide a written contract with instructions of what to do if specific situations arise so that you’re completely sure of the right action to take.
Also, make sure you provide the homeowners with references from a previous landlord and employer.
It’s best if you can present an agency with a police check and you’ll need references from professional people. The agency will interview you in your own home to make sure you’re suitable for the job.
Some house and pet-sitting agencies take on people as their employees and therefore they’re responsible, not you. They’ll have insurance to protect you throughout the job and even your partner if they’re joining you for the sit.
House sitters aren’t expected to work all day; usually the duties will require a couple of hours and the rest of your time is your own.
However, clearly the whole point of a house sit is that you’re there to protect it, so usually an agency, like Trusted Housesitters, will expect you to leave the property for no longer than three hours at a time in the day and one hour at night.
Another benefit of using an agency is that you’ll be given support throughout the process.
They’ll arrange a meeting between you and the client so that you know exactly what the client expects of you as a house sitter and a checklist will be drawn up to ensure that both you and the client know exactly where you stand. You’ll be able to contact the agency at any point during the house sit and they’ll help you if anything goes wrong.
You’ll probably find you get more work through an agency. Their clients will want to know that house minders have been vetted thoroughly and matched to suit their particular needs so they’ll be more inclined to use an agency that does both these things.
A good agency will interview you thoroughly to determine your interests, skills and preferences. This will then help them to match you to appropriate clients so that the sit is more fun for you and beneficial to the client. For example, a client with a cat can be matched to a house sitter who has had experience looking after cats and would enjoy it.
Generally, an agency will match you to a client that lives near your own home, usually within the same county. House sitting in London, for example, can be very profitable due to the sheer number of people in the city.
However there are exceptions, such as London home-sitting agency Mrs Hunt’s Staffing, which places house sitters all around the world.
If you want to travel, agencies may be able to help to you find a house sit further away as long as you agree to pay towards the travel costs. You could always use the opportunity to visit family and friends in other locations.
A good house-sitting agency will give you health and safety training, personal safety training, animal welfare guidance and details of their own regulations and rules.
The only experience you need is of running your own home. Clients just want to be sure that you can do all the domestic tasks and keep their home running smoothly.
Work for no fee and have a free holiday
Not all house-sitting companies pay, but there are still advantages.
Trusted Housesitters have long-term opportunities across the UK and although you won’t get paid, you could see it as a great way to have a free holiday.
You may even be able to negotiate a small payment if there are dogs to feed and walk or any other additional requirements.
If you’re an entrepreneurial sort, you could become self-employed and advertise your home-sitter services directly to potential clients.
One lady we know of regularly makes £50 a day as a home sitter, and she only spends the evenings and overnights in the house, before going to work the next day.
The reason for this high rate of pay is the fact that the owner of the house has seven dogs.
It would cost at least £10 per dog per day to put these dogs into kennels, so by paying £50 to a house-sitter who knows the dogs, the owner saves £20 a day.
If the house is large, and if there are a lot of pets, pet minding services can charge up to £90 a day.
One potential drawback to being self-employed is the fact that you’ll have to take responsibility for many things that an agency would otherwise do for you.
For example, you’ll have to:
- advertise your services and find clients
- manage your time
- register as self-employed with HMRC and complete an annual tax return
- draw up contracts with your house-sitting clients
- consider sorting out your own public liability insurance
It’s a good idea if the house owners let their insurance company know that someone else is house sitting their property while they’re away.
Most self-employed house sitters also have public liability insurance. This type of insurance will cover you if something goes wrong and it’s not the house owner’s responsibility to pay for it (e.g. you lock yourself out of the house and have to pay for a locksmith).
For more information read our advice on managing your finances while self-employed.
House sitting tends to be suited to people who have retired and are fit and active enough to maintain a house and look after pets.
Short-term house sitting can also be useful for students who are flexible and have time to look after other people’s places – maybe while studying.
As long as clients are confident that you’re looking after their house properly you may be able to house sit if you work from home; perhaps as an author.
You have to be sure that you’ll be comfortable in someone else’s house, and away from your own home and social circle, because you’re unlikely to be able to invite other people (apart from your partner if they’ve been agreed previously) to the client’s home.
Many agencies will want someone available throughout the year so that if a client needs a house minder more than once they can use the same person again and again.
Don’t think of house sitting as a way to make lots of money.
The pay is minimal and the work’s unlikely to be regular but it’s a good way to earn a bit of money on the side and possibly have some fun whilst you’re at it.
- Pay for long-term house sitters starts at £10 a day with Housesitters, plus £7 food allowance and 40p per mile for fuel – both of which are non-taxable.
- Small additional amounts are available if you care for a dog or cat while house sitting. Homesitters pays an extra 33p a day for dog care.
- With some private agencies, we’ve heard that short-term house sitters can earn between £8 and £10 an hour.
If you work through an agency your costs will be minimal, including things like personal phone calls. The owners should provide everything necessary on a day-to-day basis, plus a float to cover anything you need as you go along (cat food etc).
If you’re house sitting independently, an owner could initially request a deposit from you. It’s best to go over the house together on your arrival to make a note of any damage.
You may also have to pay for the utilities you use when house minding but make sure this is clearly stated in the checklist/contract before you start.
If you found this article useful, we think you’ll like these:
- Make money pet sitting and pet boarding
- Making extra money – do I have to pay more tax?
- Top 20 tips for running your own business
- Money-making ideas for the over 60s
- 10 easy ways to make quick cash
Have you ever made money house sitting? Would you prefer house sitting with or without pets? Let us know in the comment section below.