Leaving Town? Make Sure Your House Sitter Knows These 13 Things Before You Go

Leaving your house sitter with the key information they’ll need will make their job easier, and keep your stress to a minimum when you’re away from home.

By Deirdre Mundorf | Updated Dec 13, 2021 7:26 PM

Things to tell your house sitter

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Whether you’ll be traveling for work or taking a fun vacation, hiring a house sitter is a good idea. House sitters can help keep a home maintained while you’re away, collect mail and other packages, and make a home look occupied to reduce the risk of burglary.

Before you grab your suitcase and head out the door, though, you’ll want to make sure you provide your house sitter with all the information they’ll need while staying at your house. This can help make their job easier, but will also allow you to travel without the added stress of trying to answer questions such as where you keep your extra towels or who they should call if something stops working or there is a water leak.

Emergency Phone Numbers

What to tell your house sitter

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Make a list with all the phone numbers your house sitter may need in the case of an emergency. Your cell phone number should be first on the list, but also include other numbers that they could call right away, rather than bothering you or wasting time. Some important numbers to add to the list may include:

  • The utility companies
  • Trusted contractors/handymen that could help with any needed repairs
  • Your neighbors
  • A friend or family member who lives nearby
  • The landlord/leasing office if you rent

Water Shutoff Valve and Electrical Panel Locations

Things to tell your house sitter

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If there is a major water leak or an electrical problem in your home while you’re gone, you don’t want your house sitter to waste time trying to call you to find out where the water shutoff valve or electrical panel is. Be sure to provide them with the location of both of these. If your house sitter will be doing a property walk through with you before your trip, take a few minutes to point out how to operate/shut off each device.

RELATED: 7 Smartphone Apps for Emergencies That You Need to Download Right Now

Alarm Code

Things to tell your house sitter

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If your home has an alarm, you will also want to be sure to give your house sitter your alarm code. For safety purposes, you want him or her to be able to enable the alarm when they are away from the house or when they go to bed each evening. You may be able to reach out to your alarm company to set up a temporary code that will expire once you return from your trip, or more likely, you can program in a code at your system’s control panel.

Wi-Fi Password

Things to tell your house sitter

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Your house sitter will likely also need access to your home’s Wi-Fi. Write down the password for them and show them the location of the Wi-Fi router in case it needs to be reset. If you have any online streaming accounts that you’ll be letting them use when you’re gone, be sure to leave them with the passwords for those as well.

Recycling and Garbage Pickup Schedules

Things to tell your house sitter

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Next, inform your house sitter about the trash and recycling schedule and procedures for your area. Let them know which day(s) items are collected and where they should place the trash can and recycling bin on those days. Some homeowners associations have strict rules about how quickly cans and bins should be removed from the street after pickup and where they should or should not be stored. If this is the case in your neighborhood, be sure to share any important regulations with your house sitter.

Necessary Indoor Tasks

Things to tell your house sitter

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Be sure to clearly lay out any tasks you want your house sitter to complete in your home. Household tasks could include cleaning, watering plants, collecting the mail, and turning on certain lights to make it look like someone is home. Compose a list of these tasks and the days/times they should be completed.

Necessary Outdoor Tasks

Things to tell your house sitter

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In addition to indoor tasks, you may also have a few outdoor jobs that need to be completed while you’re away. These could include watering or mowing the lawn, picking fruits or vegetables from your garden, and cleaning or maintaining the pool. Write down and clearly explain any of these outdoor tasks that you will want your house sitter to do.

Ground Rules for Use of Home

Things to tell your house sitter

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If you have any special rules you want your house sitter to follow, be sure to clearly lay those out as well. Some important things to let them know about include your policy regarding them bringing guests over, if they’re allowed to eat any of the food you have in your refrigerator or pantry, and whether you want them to remake the bed or do the dishes before you’ll be back.

Out-of-Bounds Areas

Things to tell your house sitter

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In some cases, you may not want your house sitter to enter specific rooms in your home. If this is the case, be sure to explain which rooms, cabinets, or closets you wish them to stay away from. If desired, you could also add a lock to these locations.

Location of Extra Supplies

Things to tell your house sitter

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It is helpful if your house sitter knows the location of any extra supplies your house sitter may require while you’re away. Where do you store extra paper towels, cleaning supplies, linens, and anything else that they may run out of while you’re away? This simple information could save both you and your house sitter from an unnecessary phone call if they can’t find what they need.

Any Quirks About Your Home

Things to tell your house sitter

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Every home is different and has its own quirks. Letting your house sitter know about these quirks can make their stay easier and less stressful. For example, are there any door knobs that stick, toilets that run if you don’t jiggle the handle just right, windows that don’t open, or light switches that will shut off the TV?

Important Information About the Neighborhood

Things to tell your house sitter

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If your house sitter isn’t local, be sure to share any important local or neighborhood information. This information may include the closest grocery stores and restaurants, information about using community facilities (such as the pool or tennis courts), or the location of walking paths or trails.

Date and Time of Your Return

Things to tell your house sitter

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Finally, be clear about when you will be returning home. If your house sitter will be leaving before you return, leave clear instructions about where they should leave the key and anything else that needs to be done before you get back.