A house is the most valuable thing that most of will purchase in our lifetime. Even those few who are lucky enough to own more than one house still have a house at the top of their list of their most valuable purchases. It’s no wonder that we end up spending most of our time at home. We put up signs like, “Welcome,” and “Home Sweet Home.” We spend hours making the house feel like a home. No other place is as personal as a home.

It is only natural that we would want to protect your home. We want to protect our home from not only outside intruders, but from internal hazards, such as gas leaks and water breaks. And fires can happen too.

When you are inside of your home or even when you are away from it at work or elsewhere we turn on an alarm system and/or turn a few locks to keep your home safe. These are generally good and adequate precautions. After all, you will be back in a short time anyways.

Sometimes we just want to get away from the familiar. We get out of town. See a new place and new faces. When we take vacations, we also want to know that our home is safe and protected. We all know, from our own common sense and our experiences of living in the world, that a house that is lived in is less likely to robbed, burglarized, or broken into than a house. When our home is vacant is when we would want someone to stay at your home. This person who does the staying is called a house sitter.

As the homeowner, you pay the house sitter for the house sitter’s time stayed at the house, protecting your home from harm. The house sitter is free to come and go, but should spend an adequate amount of time in the home.

For this added protection, you should consider entering into a contract with the house sitter so both parties have an understanding of what is acceptable conduct. You also don’t want the house sitter to leave part-way through the house sitting dates and leave you to find a replacement while you are so far away from your home base. Entering into a house sitting agreement can help deter such behavior by a house sitter.

A house sitting agreement can also give you a point of contact with your house to collect your mail, water your plants, take care of your pets/child(ren), and run your vehicles. They are not there to perform manual labor (although you can contract for such work), but light lifting can be expected.

While the house sitter is staying at your house, there are dangers all over. Some are obvious, such as knives in the kitchen, and then there are hidden dangers, such as loose floorboards. These can be hazards and if you know about them, you must inform the house sitter of these dangers that you know about or that a reasonable inspection could have revealed. On the flip side of that, having a house sitting agreement can help to protect you of the valuables you have in the house by stating that certain parts of the house are off limits, such as hidden compartments/drawers that are not in the main quarters of the house.

As a matter of law, a house sitting agreement can be legally enforceable if the agreement is entered into by both parties who are over the age of 18 and sign and date the agreement. There is no need for a notary public, but if you wish, you have the agreement notarized. The parties should understand that they are entering into a contract. A contract also requires that both parties gain something from the contract. In the case of the house sitting agreement, the homeowner would pay the house sitter for the benefit of the protection of their home. The homeowner may also wish to give the house sitter food and make arrangements to pay utilities, cable, and internet before the homeowner leaves or for the house sitter to make the payments with the homeowner’s money.

So, in short, entering into a house sitting agreement helps to protect your house from harm (external and internal), gives you a point of contact to keep your house in running order to water plants and take care of normal house related affairs, and gives you a legal basis in contract law to better clear the air between the parties as to expectations and benefits.



This blog entry was written by Sanket Mistry.

Sanket Mistry, J.D., M.I.A.      Sanket Mistry is the founder and CEO of Peerless Legal and blogs regularly. He has written numerous books including, "25 Estate Planning Forms," "8 Living Trust Forms," "Simple Will Creator," "Give Through a Will & Living Trust," and "Guidance On Creating Your Own Will & Power of Attorney," and the bestselling books in the Legal Self-Help Guide series, "Will, Trust, & Power of Attorney Creator and Estate Records Organizer" and "Estate Planning in Plain-English." He earned his JD from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University and is a member of the New York State Bar. He has worked, and volunteered, at a number of nonprofits, government agencies, and for-profit corporations. He also holds a BA in philosophy from Emory University and a MIA from Columbia University. He is an avid traveler and tennis player.