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home sit and guardians in europe
ECHS European home sitting allows you to advertise a home in this increasingly popular trend for property care and living. Virtually all countries in Europe engage in some type of property caring service and ECHS is your option to gain access to home owners and sitters with an advertising process to that allows you state your requirements. The advisory on this page covers the most relevant issues. Click on the links, which are of interest to you.

What is a Home Sitter?Home Sitters work for you!PetsAdvantages of having a home sitterGuidelines for an agreementBillsInsuranceSecurity DepositContracts and Agreement

What is a Home Sitter?
Having a home or house sitter means arranging for someone to live in your European home, while you are away. In exchange for free accommodation, the home sitter will perform specified duties to care for your property and pets, if required. It makes sense to find someone reliable to care for your home, garden and pets while you are away. People who can help with your home in this matter are usually in two categories:

  • Professional individuals or organisations for home care, in your absence, that provide house sitting, pet minding and caretaking and charge a fee for their services, but may or may not be a "live in" person, as they may have similar assignments for home care.
  • People that are house sitters and pet minders who are usually a "live in" person and are able to give their services for free accommodation

Remember your Home Sitter works for you!
A relationship between home owner/provider and home sitter is principally based trust with the free exchange of services (home and property care) for goods (accommodation) and not money. A home sitter, in effect, works for you. The home sitter's function is to ensure that your property is the priority and your requirements are met to your expectations. A mutual agreement is essential between home owner and sitter for a productive agreement allowing good initial and continuous communication. A home sitter expects a list of tasks to maintain your home and connected surroundings to ensure your property is in the same condition as you left it

Think about your pets!
If necessary, the terms of a home sitting assignment should include care for your pets' well-being when negotiating the conditions with the home sitter. In the European Union there is less cross-border conditions for animals as pets. Veterinarians and animal welfare groups know that unfamiliar and unusual surroundings affect the physical and emotional health of your pets. Taking your pets outside of Europe may be an unpleasant experience for them when you take into account, contained cargo holds, motion sickness, vaccinations, time spent in quarantine etc. You and your home sitter can eliminate these problems by meeting your pet's needs for companionship, exercise, food and safety.

The advantages of a having a home sitter will:

  • avoid the process of renting your home.
  • enable your possessions remain in the same place.
  • mean you do not have to redirect your mail.
  • eliminate expenses for storage costs.
  • allow you select a person who agrees to your terms.
  • enable the handling gardening and pet care.
  • deter a home burglary by maintaining an "at home" look.

Guidelines of a home sitting agreement.
As the home owner/provider, you should carefully consider your personal requirements and expectations in an agreement you make. It is your responsibility to clearly explain your conditions to a potential home sitter and agree to the terms in a written contract, if you chose to have a contract.

   The home owner/provider or a legal tenant expects the home sitter to:

  • Accept total responsibility of caring for your home, pets, garden and pool area.
  • Maintain a standard of care for your home and pets equivalent to and no less than your own.
  • Take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety and security of your home and contents at all times.
  • Pay all utility charges incurred during their occupation of your home.

A home sitter is not expected to look after children or family members of the home owner/provider or a legal tenant.

    Tasks usually performed during a home sitter's stay:

  • Gardening and/or plant care.
  • Rubbish disposal.
  • Pool maintenance.
  • Readdressing mail.
  • Forwarding faxes or important documents.
  • Pet care: (regular walking, bathing, feeding, vet visits and necessary medications).

Bill payments.
It is usual for the home sitter to pay for the utilities (electricity, gas, phone, etc.) that they use during their stay. However, what is paid for should be agreed upon, before the home sitter is in place. Other recurring bills such as land rates, local council rates, or property taxes usually remain the responsibility of the home owner/provider or the legal tenant. If your arrangement is over several months in duration, you might consider allocating all or a portion of the recurring bills to the home sitter. Incorporate any utility or tax payment conditions in a written contract.

ECHS strongly recommends that you to review your insurance policy and discuss your coverage with your policy provider. Most insurance agencies will agree that your home is more secure when it is occupied rather than empty. Unless you learn otherwise, explain to your home sitter that insurance for your home does not protect their personal belongings. They should arrange for their own coverage during their stay at your home.

Security deposit.
A home sitting agreement should include a security deposit statement. The deposit can be paid directly to the home owner/provider, with a separate document as a receipt. ECHS suggests that you consider a deposit equivalent to the amount you would collect as one month's rent. This amount could remain with an agreed independent party, along with your written contract, until the end of the house sitting assignment. A lawyer would assist you with this matter.

Preparing a contract or an agreement.
Your contract or agreement should include the terms and conditions under which a home sitter may occupy your home. A lawyer can help you arrange this and customize it with your requirements.

   Your contract should include specific detailed instructions for:

  • garden care and the equipment used for these purposes.
  • houseplant care, fertilizer, watering schedule, etc.
  • pet care, feeding times, exercise schedule, vet visits, medicating.
  • pool maintenance, reading chemical levels, etc.
  • mail collecting, handling, and forwarding.
  • visitors, reporting damages and emergencies.

To minimize the risk of miscommunication, you might schedule a meeting to provide your home sitter with training and demonstrations to guarantee a complete understanding of your requirements. Your contract should specify your utility billing arrangement. Generally, the home sitter is responsible for making these payments.

   There are several options available when considering utility costs including:

  • Taking a water/gas/electricity meter reading before you depart and upon your return.
  • The home sitter pays all bills from the date of their occupation.
  • When you return, you can pay back the difference for the percentage you used.
  • Arrange to continue paying the bills yourself by direct debit.
  • The home sitter reimburses you for their portion when you return. The security deposit can be used as reimbursement protection.
  • For long term home sitter placements, you can disconnect the utilities under your name.
  • The home sitter reconnects the utilities in their name and is responsible for remitting payments.

In conclusion, ensure to define exactly what each party's obligations and expectations are of the other before starting a home sitting arrangement. ECHS has a selection of documents that are free which relate to a Home Sitting Agreement and can be downloaded here.

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