House-sitting is the practice whereby a landlord (or "homeowner"), leaving their house for a period of time, entrusts it to one or more "house-sitters", who by a mutual agreement are entitled to live there rent-free in exchange for assuming responsibilities such as taking care of the homeowner's pets, performing general maintenance (including pools, lawns, air-conditioning systems etc.), keeping trespassers off the property, readdressing the mail, and in general, making sure that everything runs smoothly just as if the owner was at home.
It is also generally implied that crime is deterred by the presence of the house-sitter. This is supported by the fact that insurance companies in the United Kingdom provide reduced rates for householders who use the services of house-sitting agencies. Some insurance companies will void a policy if the house is left vacant for more than 30 days without prior arrangement. House-sitting is therefore considered a practical solution to managing properties which would otherwise stand vacant for long periods of time. In the UK, however, homeowners are usually careful not to leave their properties in the care of a house-sitter for longer than 12 months. It is often recommended that an agreement or form of contract is drawn up to ensure both parties are happy with the terms agreed.
In Canada, there can be insurance company issues with leaving homes empty for more than four days. Therefore, it is important for homeowners to have someone enter their home at least once every four days they are absent. Hiring a house-sitter can provide the support and documentation needed in the event that claim must be made with an insurance company.
A newly developed version of house-sitting which has gained widespread acceptance is the contracting of house-sitters who do not live on premises. This house-sitting arrangement requires the house-sitter to provide regular visits to the homeowner's house. The frequency of visits is determined in advance and is not less than the minimum requirements as stipulated by the homeowner's insurance policy. This type of service can perform similar functions as mentioned above. It is becoming more popular as many homeowners do not wish to have someone living in their house while they are away.
The whole practice is open to negotiation, notably as to whether a security deposit is required by the homeowner and whether a money payment should be made from one of the parties involved (as its share of the benefits is larger: typically, this is considered to be the house-sitter).
In lieu of paying for accommodation, house-sitting is a common way for either people on vacation or long-term travelers to reduce the cost of travel.
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Often, pet-sitters simultaneously assume the role of a house-sitter while they are caring for a homeowner's pet. This may or may not increase the pet-sitter's standard rate, depending on the individual and the number of tasks required if the home/pet owner is paying for a house-sitter. This depends on whether the homeowner is paying a house-sitting agency, or whether they have found a house/pet-sitter from a house-sitting website that enables them to find house-sitters free of charge. There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to both, including cost, reading information about, and choice of house/pet-sitter.
Assignments can be secured all over the world with the only limiting factor being the need for relevant tourist or residential visas. Any house sitter accepting payment for their services will be required to obtain the relevant work permit.
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