When travel for business or pleasure creates the necessity for a house sitter, many homeowners’ initial reaction is to ask a family member for a favor, rather than securing the services of a professional. While inviting a relative to stay in your home has it’s advantages, the arrangement also comes with its share of disadvantages. Before you approach a family member with a plea for a favor, here are some things you might want to consider.
- The Lack of Professional Motivation – Though relatives may have the best of intentions when it comes to caring for your home in your absence, they don’t have the professional motivations of a professional. House sitters’ entire career and professional future is dependent upon receiving great references from each and every client they work for; as a result, they’re typically motivated to go above and beyond what’s expected of them in order to ensure that they leave every client satisfied. A family member, lacking that motivation, may inadvertently fail to perform some tasks, due to sheer forgetfulness or the time constraints that come with caring for your household as well as their own.
- A Misplaced Sense of Trust – Because we love our family members and want to think the best of them, it’s not uncommon to discover that much of our trust in them is misplaced. Younger relatives may find that they’re ill-prepared to care for your home properly, forgetting important tasks or otherwise leaving your property open to damage. This is only one example of how an error in judgment on your part can lead to trouble; should trouble arise, it could leave one or both parties feeling hurt or hostile.
- A Potential Source of Future Tension – There are scores of situations that could arise during your absence, regardless of who is caring for your property. However, when the house sitter you’ve engaged is a professional, you have the choice of providing a less-than-stellar reference or lodging a complaint with the agency that recommended them. Should negligence or lack of regard for your belongings lead to damages under a relative’s care, the chances of a relationship-damaging argument are quite high.
- Financial Disputes – Few sources of dispute have the far-reaching implications of finances among family members. Misunderstanding can leave a relative under the impression that they’re going to be paid when you regard the arrangement as a favor. Similarly, compensation that you do provide upon your return may be less than they feel they deserve for their time and effort. Disputes regarding money can be very damaging, even to the most tightly-knit families. Rather than risk such situations, it may be better to consider a professional house sitter.
Most potential problems with family members in regard to a house sitting request can be avoided by having a thorough discussion about your mutual expectations. Should you opt for a family member over the services of a professional house sitter, it’s essential that both parties are aware of the specific terms of the agreement, and that you’re completely comfortable with your relative’s ability to competently care for your home, pets and belongings.