A House Sitters Bad Experience

on Monday, 15 February 2016. Posted in Blog

It could happen to you!

 I am just home from my only bad housesitting experience in Scotland's Capital. The house was a perfect candidate for those programmes you see on UK tv - 'Clean My House' and 'Hoarders'. Below is a copy of an email I sent home -


My 1st mistake was not thinking to ask if the houseowner was a smoker. She is a very heavy smoker, so the whole
place reeked of smoke, and overflowing ashtrays in every room didn’t add much to the ambience. I guess it’s easy to ask someone if they smoke. How do you ask someone what their standard of housecleaning is? This house doesn’t seem to have been cleaned for a very long time, probably not this milleneum. I’m not a particularly tidy person, but do keep things reasonably clean. She seems to be unable to throw anything away, so every surface is covered in piles of ‘stuff’ – papers, magazines, knick knacks, junk. The car doesn’t get put into the garage, as it’s full! However it’s the filthy condition of the house that is the real turn-off. The kitchen was disgusting, the bathrooms worse, the toilets .......use your imagination. How somebody can live in this state, with a 16 year old, is amazing. To expect a stranger to come in and live in it without cleaning it up at least superficially .... well, what can you say. Even the room I was to use hadn’t been dusted or vacuumed in living memory. Though I was 2 hours late arriving, the bed and room hadn’t been cleared off or made! I spent 2 days cleaning the place, using up a pack of disposable gloves, and a pack of antiseptic wipes - anything I had to touch got disinfected! After emptying all the overflowing ashtrays, and opening up the place to air, it was much better. The fridge was also emptied of lots of fungating food stuffs. Of course my other mistake was not getting some reverese references. There had been housesitters only 6 months earlier. However, I'm not sure that would have helped, as they had obviously not done any cleaning either, even of the 'guest' room we both would have used. The houseowner sent her 16 year-old back for the last 2 weeks of the housesit as he had to start the school year. I had agreed to this, on an 'all care, no responsibility' basis, and agreed to cook main meals for him. I had a night away,(that ended up 2 nights due to plane trouble) and came back to -

So back to Edinburgh and to the housesit. The 1st thing I saw was all the dishes and pans the kid had used, lined up on the sink, unrinsed and waiting for someone else to put in dishwasher and clean up. Then in the bathroom, I saw evidence that the toilet hadn't been cleaned, even though before I left, I'd asked him if he knew how to use a toilet brush, and told him that I wouldn't be cleaning toilets after anyone else again, having done it all once already. As it was still shitty, that was the last straw for me. I got online, booked my last 4 nights in Scotland in this very nice hotel, tried to phone the houseowner in Botswana but she was no longer at her other son's place, emailed her that I wasn't staying any longer and why, left a note for the kid with same info, waved goodbye to the sad-eyed dog and indifferent cats, and caught the train to Glasgow! And how good it felt! I also called the neighbour to let her know that the 16 year-old would be on his own for 4 nights. I wish I'd talked to her earlier, as she confirmed my opinion that the houseowner had serious mental health problems. Quote – “I dinna how ye stayed so long – she’s mad!” 

Since then, she has not replied to my emails, but did ring my husband and told him that there was damage to the car! I certainly didn't have any accidents, and if there was damage, it was done after I left. I've heard nothing more since then. So altogether, 'an experience'! My favourite quote at the moment is "Bad decisions make for good stories" and I'll certainly be dining out on this one.

I've learned 2 things from this -

1. ask if the OWNER is a smoker if you loathe cigarette smoke

2. get reverse references, with phone numbers so you can talk to the previous housesitters. After so many great, and several wonderful, housesitting adventures, I guess I got a little complaisant. I'm sending you these details, as a warning to other housesitters, to do your homework!


(Editor/Admin comment - This happened to my sister who has been house sitting in numerious locations around the world for longer than I can remember.A sitters agreement could have helped as well as her recommendations.Images are not actual ones surprise)

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