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Can You Do a Background Check on a Housesitter?

By Michael Klazema on 1/22/2019

Perhaps you are going on a lengthy vacation for spring break this year, or maybe you spend your winters in another part of the country and want someone to look after your home. Either way, it might make sense for you to hire a housesitter. A housesitter can keep an eye on your plants, clean your house, handle things like snow buildup, and spring into action if someone should go wrong at your house—like the pipes freezing and bursting. A housesitter can also serve the crucial function of making it look like someone is still living at your house while you are gone, which can deter burglars and other threats.

The question is, can you do a housesitter background check?

In many cases, homeowners do not feel the need to vet their housesitters. The first inclination for most homeowners when leaving town is to ask a friend, neighbor, or relative to look after their property while they are away. Especially if the homeowner is going to be gone for a week or two, it makes sense to many to arrange this less formal type of housesitting.

A true housesitter is usually someone who agrees to come and live at your house while you are out of town. In this more professional arrangement, you might not know this person very well—or at all. You hire them to look after your house and pay a small fee for their services. Usually, the bulk of a housesitter’s “fee” (if not all of it) is covered by the free lodging arrangement they get by agreeing to stay at your house.

There are numerous online services through which you can find housesitters in your area and arrange a sitter for your house while you are gone. These services allow you to tailor your search to find the best-fit housesitter, whether that means finding someone who will housesit and look after your pets or a candidate skilled in landscaping and yard care.

If you hire a housesitter through a housesitting website, there is a good chance that the company will conduct a background check on the housesitter before matching him or her with a client. In this situation, the company needs to protect itself from liability, hence the checks. Such a background check will typically look at criminal historydrug use, and other factors that might raise red flags. Most housesitter services will include details about their background check policies on their websites, but feel free to ask if you can’t find mention of a vetting policy.

If you hire a housesitter without using a third-party service, the question of whether you can do a housesitter background check will fall to you.

You are at liberty to vet a housesitter before hiring him or her to live in your home and look after your property. However, since the homeowner-housesitter relationship is technically an employer-employee relationship, you should formalize this process. Disclose your intention to conduct a background check, get the written consent of your candidate(s), and discuss any background check findings with each person before dismissing them from consideration. It is also a good idea to ask for references from your prospective sitters to make sure they are up to the task.

Leaving your home behind for weeks or months at a time can be stressful. Finding the right housesitter can provide protection and peace of mind. Conducting a housesitter background check can help you to make sure you are handing your keys to someone you can trust.


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