The House Sitters Guide To Handover Days (+ Bonus House Sitting Checklist)

So you have landed a new house sit or house sitter, congratulations!

If your still looking make sure you have a look at the best house-sitting websites!

Handover day is one of the most important tasks for both the homeowner and the house sitter.

It is on handover day that you will have your last opportunity to find out any information about the house sit.

Like the house sit itself, handover days come in all different shapes and sizes.

Some handovers are simple – the homeowner leaves in the morning and puts out a key (or you already have one) and when the homeowner returns you leave in the morning.

Others can be a little longer. Personally, I have spent up to 1 week at ‘handover’.

Obviously, this doesn’t happen for every sit – it just depends on the sit, the location and the duties involved.

When I had a 1-week handover it was while looking after a boat sitting in the Caribbean, there was a lot to learn, there was not a lot of flight options to get there and the cat I was looking after needed time to warm to me since she was very timid and nervous of new people.

In this post we will cover:

  1. What you need to know before moving in handover.
  2. What you should expect at moving in handover.
  3. How to prepare for the homeowners coming home handover.
  4. What to do at homeowners coming back handover.
  5. A couple of checklists and resources to make your handovers a breeze.
House Sitting Handover Guide

House Sitting Handover – Moving In

Just so we are all on the same page, the handover is when the homeowner hands the house over.

For some people, it’s something they have done many times before and it’s not a big deal.

For others, it might be their first time and there are some nerves and uneasiness, which is to be expected.

Which can sometimes be a fair bit, remember you are doing the house sitting in exchange for rent.

It is a little strange leaving your belongings, home and pets to a stranger, right?

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What Information You Need Before Handover

Before handover, you should have had communication with the homeowner. We usually send an extensive document with a whole range of questions and information for them to fill out. 

This is a document that we have created over the past 4 years – I agree it might be a little over the top, but, it’s always better to have more information than you need, right? You don’t want to be calling the homeowner to ask where the dogs poo bags are while they are poolside drinking a mimosa, do you?

Before you move in, at the very least you should know what your duties are going to be while you are in charge of the house. This includes:

  • Animal care and schedule
  • House shores
  • House maintenance and upkeep
  • Do’s and don’ts
  • Homeowners trip schedule and contact
  • Local emergency contact and emergency services details
  • When the homeowner is coming home and how they want the house handed back to them

Want Our Instruction Templates?

We like to send an instruction questionnaire to the homeowner 3-4 days before the house sit starts.

Want to know all the questions we ask and see our template?

You can download it from the page below!

House Sitting Instructions Template – this template will ensure you provide the best service possible

What to Expect At The House Handover

Again this will differ for each house sit and the situation. As mentioned above sometimes handover is simply you walking into the house.

Sometimes it can be while the homeowner is frantically packing and organizing kids (this is why you want to get as much information as possible before you arrive) and sometimes its going out for a meal or having dinner at the home.

Arriving After the Homeowner Has Left

This is always a good start! You arrive with all the necessary information into a home that you have already been to or had very in depth conversations. In our experience, this is usually the type of house sit you will also leave before the homeowner arrives home.

The best thing to do at a handover like this is to make sure you make yourself familiar with the house and pets. I don’t mean have a snoop around the owner’s private things but make sure you are aware of where everything you need is and you are comfortable.

Now is a good time to get in touch with the homeowner advising you have arrived and everything is fine – or if you have any initial questions raise them now! Before it’s too late!

Arriving The Day of Handover

This is the most common situation. Most homeowners like to physically hand over their keys and make sure you are comfortable and everything is under control. Some things to keep in mind are that the homeowner might still be packing, getting the house ready or making last-minute arrangements for their trip. Sometimes it can be a little bit frantic (that is why we like to send the handover document at least one week prior to this).

It is important that you ask if you can help or make the handover process as easy as possible in any way you can. Before the homeowner leaves have a good look around the home and pets and ensure that you are comfortable with everything and that everything is as discussed.

Arriving Days or Weeks Ahead

Arriving day/s ahead is not uncommon, depending on the location and duration of the sit some homeowners want you to arrive a couple of days ahead so you can ease your way into the sit and get familiar with your new house, pets and surroundings. This is most common for sits that are a couple of months or in hard-to-reach locations.

It good peace of mind for the homeowner to spend a couple of days with you to get to know you and make sure that you have everything under control before they leave. It is also the perfect opportunity to go over every aspect of the house sit and make anything clear that might not be so clear to you.

House Sitting Handover – Moving Out

If it wasn’t obvious by now moving out handover is when you move out and hand the house back to the homeowner. It is important that you ensure you hand the home back over in top-notch condition – maybe even better than when you moved in if you really want that 5-star review!

Handover Before The Homeowner Gets Home

In our experience, this is quite common. Usually, homeowners have been on a long flight and just want to get home to a nice tidy house without having to deal with pleasantries to an almost stranger – which is understandable.

The key for the type of handover is to have the home sparkling clean with the essentials the homeowner might need when arriving home after a long flight. Always make sure the home basics are there, animals are fed and walked and the yard is tidy. 

We always also leave the homeowner a letter. In this letter, we thank them for letting us look after their home and pets. We also advise if there were any problems or anything that they need to be aware of.

With this style of handover, we like to get in touch with the homeowner a couple of days later to just check-in and make sure everything is ok with the home and pets.

Meeting the Homeowners At Handover

Meeting the homeowners at handover can be a little awkward. This depends on how long you are staying when they arrive back. How long you will be there for usually depends on the location, size of the house and the homeowners themselves.

It is very important that the homeowner arrives home to a very clean house with happy pets. Again it’s good to have everything written down for the homeowner – even if its just notes for yourself to bring up with them before you leave.

Keep in mind they have usually just had a long journey so might not be in a sociable mood – leave it up to the homeowner but make sure you always offer to help out.

Handover Checklists

We have looked after 40 homes over the past 4 years. Over that time we have learned a thing or two about all different types of handovers. We always get asked about how to deal with handovers from both homeowners and house sitters.

We hope this guide to house sitting handovers has (well) come in handy and made your house sitting experience that little bit easier!

Happy house sitting everyone!

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