Kiwi House Sitters

The largest pet & house sitting site in New Zealand

Home Owner FAQs

GENERAL HOUSE SITTING

There are many different kinds of people who housesit, retired couples, singles, young families, professionals, artists, etc. There is no one stereotypical 'sitter'. Generally, most house sitters are well educated, caring, responsible people with plenty of life experience. The reasons why people house sit are as varied as they are numerous. Some house sitters are people who need temporary accommodation while they are moving from one house to another, some see the benefits of living rent free, while others simply enjoy a change of scenery.

You might be wondering, why people would choose to house sit for free. The truth is - because they love animals and the unique travel experiences that house and pet sitting provides!

In exchange for caring for your home and ´╗┐pets, your sitter gets to experience life in your location. Because our sitters aren't motivated by money, you can find a sitter whose number one priority is to care for your home and pets.

A house sitter handles the day to day running of the home while ensuring your pets are happy in an environment they are familiar with and cared for just as you do.

A house sitter lives in the house while the homeowner is away and takes care of the home, pets and garden. When the home is occupied it is much safer than if it was left empty. Also, the pets are well cared for, the garden and lawn are maintained and the mail is collected, as well as any other jobs the homeowner and the sitter mutually agree on.

Vets agree, animals are happier at home. Pets can show signs of stress when their owners are away but it tends to be less severe when they are in their own familiar environment. Most pets are particularly bonded with the sights, smells, and sounds of their own home. 

When asked the best option for pets when homeowners are away, Dr. Ken Tudor from Pet MD says, "To me the obvious choice is live-in pet sitting. It is as close to a normal environment for the pets as possible and is also great home security".

This is up to the homeowner and the house sitter to negotiate. A house sitting agreement is helpful in clarifying the owner’s expectations and ensures both parties are clear on the terms of the arrangement. It is very important to discuss all aspects of the house sit before it begins to avoid confusion and ensure everything runs smoothly. Terms that may be noted in the agreement include: details of pet care, information on house and garden care, who is responsible for paying for utilities etc.

Kiwi House Sitters offers a housesitting agreement template that you can adapt to suit your individual needs.

WHO PAYS WHAT?

Yes! We do not charge homeowners anything to find a house sitter.

The most common form of house sitting is where the sitter looks after the house and pets in exchange for free accommodation and no money changes hands. There may be the occasion when a homeowner will offer some money to the house sitter, e.g. if there are a lot of pets to care for and jobs to do.

There are some professional sitters who choose to advertise on Kiwi House Sitters and they usually ask for payment in return for their professional service. The vast majority of house sitters are pet lovers who believe receiving free accommodation in exchange for basic house and pet keeping responsibilities is a fair and positive exchange of services.

Kiwi House Sitters does not accept homeowners charging house sitters rent. In the majority of the cases the arrangement is a straight swap where the house sitter cares for the house and pets in exchange for free accommodation. There maybe times when a homeowner may ask for a weekly contribution from the house sitter, e.g. if there are no pets to care for and very little jobs to do, or if the house sit is for a longer length of time. Remember, all the details are negotiable between both parties and should be discussed prior to confirming your house sit.

There is no one correct way house sitting works. Each house sit is unique and everything is negotiable between the sitter and the owner. In most cases, the owner is usually happy to cover the utilities in exchange for the sitter taking care of their home and pets. On longer term sits, e.g. 4+ weeks, it is normal for the house sitter to contribute to, or even cover the utility costs e.g. heating, cooling, electricity and possibly internet.

As each sitting job is unique, it is up to the owner and the sitter to negotiate the payment (or non payment) of utilities before the sit commences. It is important that both the owner and the sitter are clear and open in what has been agreed to and that it is documented to avoid any confusion.

House sits run smoothly 95% of the time. On the odd occasion where something may end up broken or damaged by the house sitter, the house sitter will normally cover the cost if it was their fault. If the damage was caused due to the age of the house, the wear and tear on an item etc. then the homeowner should cover the costs of the repairs.

Some home owners like to use a house sitting agreement to prevent any potential problems. Kiwi House Sitters offers a house sitting agreement template that you can adjust to suit your needs.

REGISTRATION AS A HOUSE OWNER & PLACING A FREE AD

When you login to your homeowner account you have the ability to deactivate your ad. Deactivating means you remove the ad from the website so it's no longer visible and sitters can no longer apply. When you de-activate your ad, the details are still kept on your account for use the next time you need a sitter. Even though your ad is deactivated, you are still able to message all of the sitters you have in your messaging area.

NOTE: You can also email us and ask us to delete it for you.

You will need to have an email account when you first register as a homeowner so you can activate your profile. Once you have registered you have the ability to choose to be contacted by phone if that’s preferable.

ABOUT THE SITE

House sitters register and list their profile on the Kiwi House Sitters website where their profile can be viewed by homeowners. Homeowners can then contact the sitters of their choice to see if they are available to house sit. Some owners choose not to place an ad; they simply browse through the list of sitter profiles and click "Contact" to message them directly.

All registered house sitters are also able to contact any of the homeowners that have advertised on the website.

It's very simple really.

It’s easy! Homeowners can either place a free ad and have one of our registered house sitters contact them or, they can scroll the list of house sitters and contact any whose available dates and profile look suitable. We recommend doing both to increase your chances of finding the perfect house sitter.

We pride ourselves on our customer service and endeavour to reply to all email enquiries the day we receive them. Please allow 48 hours depending on demand.

The reply rating system is intended to make communication a faster and happier experience for all members. A reply rating appears on a member's homeowner ad or sitter profile as a series of 5 dots. This rates the member's responsiveness to first contact messages.

If a member has responded in a timely fashion, i.e. within 5 days to every first contact message, their reply rating will remain at the ideal 5 points.

For every first contact message that goes un-replied, a point is deducted. To redeem a lost point the member needs to answer promptly to the next two first contact messages that are received.

 

Our members occasionally suggest that a rating system would help them choose between candidates.

While ratings can be useful for some sites, they can also be very damaging on others. We have carefully considered introducing a ratings system, but have decided against it because we feel that it could have a negative impact on many of our members, which may be completely unwarranted.

Our reasons:

Individuality: Choosing a house sitter is a unique responsibility involving a mix of personality, experience and "chemistry". All homeowners have different requirements and expectations and what one homeowner might see as ‘0 stars’, another might feel ‘5 stars’ about the same experience.

• Love: Our site and the community of people involved are characterised by generosity, responsibility and respect. We value this and work very hard to affirm and maintain it. We feel that a ratings system has too many potential negatives for some members that would undermine the wonderful spirit of the site for no real benefit.

• Unreasonable criticism: It only takes one negative comment to destroy a house sitter’s chances of getting any further sits. A house sitter may be trying their best, but if they don’t have detailed instructions they might disappoint an owner without meaning to. A ratings system would unfairly punish a sitter in this instance.

• Quality: It is genuinely difficult to find a ‘bad’ house sitter or homeowner. The overwhelming majority of the tens of thousands of house sits that happen every year are fantastic exchanges that are very satisfying for all parties.

• Confidence: There are many things that help build confidence in a house sitter, which we believe is actually more helpful than a rating. These include references, referees, endorsements, the number of completed sits and personal history. Don’t underestimate the importance of taking time to talk with potential sitters. This is a great way to have confidence in what the sitter can provide.

• Incentive: One argument for ratings is that it provides incentive for a house sitter to perform well. We feel that good performance is already an outstanding feature of our AHS members. House sitters genuinely want to do a great job for the owner and homeowners genuinely want to make the sitter’s stay comfortable and enjoyable. Positive communication and common courtesy drive our members to "perform" well. We have other more practical incentives for sitters to perform well including receiving positive endorsements, repeat sits, referrals and additional references and referees.

• Endorsements: To help in selecting a sitter, we have “Endorsements” from previous house sits undertaken via our site. This is a feature that is becoming popular on many sites. It means that members can be rewarded with positive recommendations from other members, and it adds an important layer of credibility to a sitter's profile.

• Complaints policy: For those rare occasions when a homeowner or house sitter has experienced a problem, we are always available to hear feedback and we do take appropriate action. We have a thorough complaints procedure we use when needed.

Endorsements from a previous house sit (from either the house sitter or homeowner) add a lot of credibility to a member's profile, and reward and promote positive experiences.

Both house sitters and homeowners are able to write an endorsement for the other if they feel like spreading the love and acknowledging them for a job well done.

 

HOME SECURITY

If a homeowner has security cameras in or around their home it's important to inform the house sitter of this while negotiating the house sitting job. Some house sitters may not feel comfortable if security cameras are installed. Many house sitters will be ok with this however, it is necessary that the homeowner inform them before the house sit has been confirmed.