Monday, May 27, 2024

Make extra money house sitting

MoneyMagpie team

1st May 2024

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Updated 8th May 2024

Making money house sitting is an increasingly popular way for people who spend long periods of time away to manage their households.

If you’re lucky enough to secure a long-term house-sitting contract, you could use that money to pay your rent and bills, and if you work from home then this provides a particularly lucrative way of combining the two – work from home while you’re house sitting.

There’s particularly a lot of work for house sitters over the summer holidays, with assignments all around the UK, and now is a good time to start looking to set up your summer house sitting plans.

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.



What Does House Sitting Involve?

Elderly woman relaxes on the sofa with a cup of tea

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 also specialise in short-term sitting. 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!). This is a particularly good job to look for if you already work part-time or from home, and live in a highly populated area – as that’ll mean more customers near to you.

House minding is when you don’t stay at the house but keep an eye on an empty home with daily visits to water the plants, pick up the post and have a quick tidy. The movement in the house, changing of curtains opening/closing, lights going on and off etc can help deter burglars, while people with precious plants won’t have to worry about them wilting in their absence. House minding is also often used by home owners who have cats – you can pop in each day to feed them, change the litter tray when needed, and make sure they’re in good health, but they don’t need 24/7 minding the way dogs do.

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 Trustedhousesitters.

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.

How to Work With a House and Pet-sitting Agency

Woman lying on rug with puppy

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. This is particularly important if you’re a pet sitter, as animals can cause injury to yourself or others (such as an escaped dog running into the road causing an accident).

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 Trustedhousesitters, 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. 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.

If you want to travel, agencies may be able to help to you find a house sit further away. You could always use the opportunity to visit family and friends in other locations. You could even plan a holiday abroad if you find someone who needs a house sitter for a month or two – you’ll need to pay your own travel and sort your visas, but it’s a great way to spend some time in another country without going broke on accommodation.

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.

Become a Self-Employed Home Sitter and Pet Minder

Pet cat sitting in lap of woman reading

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. 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! If the house is large, and if there are a lot of pets, pet minding services can charge up to £90 a day.

A good way to know how to set competitive rates is to look at what an agency would pay you:

  • 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.

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
  • Arrange 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.

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). It also covers you if, for example, their dog gets injured while you’re out on a walk.

Would House Sitting Suit Me?

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.

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.

You have to be sure that you’ll be comfortable in someone else’s house, and away from your own home and social circle. You’re unlikely to be able to invite other people to the client’s home.

However, if agreed in advance, your partner may be able to accompany you whilst housesitting! This can be useful if one of you needs to leave the house for longer than the agreed maximum (such as doing the grocery shopping or running errands) as the other can stay behind to make sure there is always someone in the house.

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.

Making Money House Sitting: Additional Costs

Pomeranian dog next to empty food bowl

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. Make sure this is clearly stated in the checklist/contract before you start.

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