So, you’ve been asked to house-sit for close friends while they’re away on vacation. While it may seem like an easy task, it requires some serious responsibility—not to mention a certain level of etiquette. Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert, author and owner of the Protocol School of Texas, explains how to be a good house-sitter.
Look—But Don’t Look Too Hard
You’ve been house-sitting for about a week now, and you’ve run out of toilet paper. You’ve tried getting in touch with the owner, checked under the sink and in the bathroom linen closet, but can’t seem to find any extra rolls squirreled away anywhere. If that’s the case, it’s time to stop looking and head to the store—you don’t want to become a snoop!
“If you can’t find it easily when you open the drawer or cabinet, rifling through layers of folded clothing and taking out boxes from the closet crosses the line,” says Gottsman.
And don’t even think about rummaging through the medicine cabinet—that’s definitely snooping.
Keep the Lampshades on the Lamps
Your friends have an awfully big house, and it sure would be a great place to host an epic party. But before you even think about inviting people over, make sure you’ve run it by the homeowners first.
“It is only acceptable for a house sitter to have guests over if they have them preapproved with the owner,” says Gottsman. “It’s a privacy issue, as well as a safety issue, if the owner does not know the uninvited guests.”
Plan Your Meals in Advance
That prime rib in the fridge sure looks tempting, doesn’t it? Well, hands off—it’s not yours!
“Generally a house sitter will take care of their own meals during their stay,” says Gottsman. “However, food may be left for the sitter that they are welcome to eat.”
Make sure you talk to your friends about this before they leave home so you don’t end up stealing any food “by accident.” And if you should happen to use up all the paper towels while they’re away, the onus will probably be on you to replace it.
“Supplies are also generally provided in the house,” she says. “If the sitter runs out of day-to-day items, he or she would be responsible unless otherwise stated.”
It’s also a good idea to cover all the ground rules—where you’ll be sleeping, what the WiFi password is, and what your specific house-sitting duties will be—before you’re left to your own devices. Then you can sit back, relax and pretend you own the place.
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