A guide to house sitting during coronavirus

Paul - Head of Membership Services

As many parts of the world begin to reopen and ease their lockdown restrictions, people are beginning to travel locally again, where it is safe to do so. 

However, for some, there is still a great deal of uncertainty as well as questions around how house sitting works in a post-lockdown world. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together a short guide detailing some frequently asked questions, plus some tips on how to prepare for a house sit during coronavirus.

Is it safe to welcome a house sitter or go on a house sit?

At the moment, the consensus is that if you are following the government guidelines, adhering to social distancing and continuing good hygiene practices, there is no reason why you cannot safely conduct a house sit.

That said, to avoid unnecessary travel during the coronavirus pandemic, local sits are advised, and it is still important to monitor government updates regularly as local travel restrictions and advice are still subject to change. 

Can pets catch or spread the virus?

While there have been a few isolated cases (less than 50 worldwide), there is no evidence that pets can transmit the virus to a human, and symptoms in pets are usually very mild.  

In a recent article, TV vet and author, Dr Bruce Fogle, confirmed that the chances of your pet contracting the virus are “very, very slim”, and “worldwide, there has not been a single confirmed instance of someone picking up Covid-19 from a dog or cat.” 

Rest assured, the chances of catching the virus from a pet are extremely rare, however, it’s still advisable to maintain good hygiene practices such as thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water after stroking, feeding or handling a pet. 

Tips for house sitting during coronavirus

  • Preparing for a sit 

It’s important now more than ever to ensure a property has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before a sit takes place. This should be done using a cleaning solution with at least 70% alcohol content, paying close attention to any frequently touched hotspots such as light switches, door handles and remote controls. 

Please refer to our full official cleaning guide on how to prepare for a sit during coronavirus. 

  • Communicating safely

Thorough planning and continued communication is key to a safe and successful house sit, particularly during the current climate.

In line with social distancing guidelines, any pre-sit communication should now be done via a video calling platform such as Zoom, Skype, or via Facetime. 

Handovers should also be conducted virtually and where possible, keys should be left in a safe and secure place for a contact-free pick-up. 

However, in instances where this isn't possible (and you are permitted to meet with another household), you must follow social distancing rules as governed by the country you are in. In these instances, if you can wear a mask, you should do so to further limit any potential spread. These steps should be discussed with your owner ahead of the handover, to make sure you are both comfortable before the sit takes place.

  • Taking precautions

As we navigate through these uncertain times, it’s important for both owners and sitters to have a plan B in case of any unforeseen circumstances, and to discuss this ahead of the sit. 

We would also suggest that both owners and sitters review their TrustedHousesitters safety contact, and update this where necessary. This is especially important in case of an emergency, or if your arrival or return becomes delayed. 

  • Check local restrictions before you travel

Government regulations will vary depending on where you are in the world, and for some, house sitting or travel will not be advised or permitted at the current time. So before applying for, or confirming a sit, it is advised to check with your country or local city’s guidelines, as it can be disappointing for all involved if a sit needs to be cancelled at the last minute due to either party not being able to commit. 

Finally, if you develop symptoms or feel unwell at any point before the sit (even if you don’t suspect you have the coronavirus), you should stay at home until you feel fit and healthy. 

Have other people been going on house sits?

Yes, they have. We’ve helped to facilitate a number of safe and successful house sits for our members since lockdown. Here are a few quotes from our members who’ve recently completed a sit…

'Cassandra, our first sitter was excellent - indeed exceeded all expectations. She threw herself into Cotswold life with gusto, making good friends with our neighbours and undertaking all sorts of unexpected tasks. We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her, and couldn't recommend her strongly enough. She is eager, adaptable, caring and very capable. Also, the process worked seamlessly, despite the problems of Covid-19.' - Rupert

'Sarah and Steve took great, conscientious care of all our animals and home while we were on holiday with our family. They are very experienced house-sitters which was very reassuring. We were able to ‘meet’ via WhatsApp (because of Covid) and they arrived the day before we left which gave us time to show them around, introduce the dogs and cats and settle them in. Sarah and Steve sent photos and updates each day, and prepared a delicious fruit salad for when we returned.' - Diana

'Stephane and Cassie were wonderful house and dog sitters. They were extremely attentive to our pets and we really enjoyed their company too. They’ve travelled a lot so it was great to hear their stories and chat about Canada, Covid, the world, music, movies, culture, etc! A really lovely couple, we wish them well in their travels and hope to stay in touch and meet up with them in the future.' - Kalpana

Need further advice? You can also check out our full guide for owners or our full guide for sitters, or reach out to your friendly Membership Services team.

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