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What do you do when your house-sitting client's house is dirty/smelly? [closed]

asked 2017-07-18 20:42:05 -0500

I just completed a 4-night house sitting job for 4 elderly dogs and an elderly cat. I knew the care requirements for senior pets was going to be more than for a younger animal, but what really got me was the fact that there was a thick layer of dust on many surfaces in the client's house, and a number of areas were just plain stinky, including the couch I was supposed to have "couch time" on with 3 of the 4 dogs every day. This is a home I was spending the night in, and the room I slept in was right next to the room where the cat's litterbox was. The care instructions left to me indicated the litterbox had been scooped and would not need any attention while I was there. The first night I stayed there, I noted an incredibly strong ammonia smell from the litterbox, and found that it had NOT recently been cleaned and was quite dirty. The bathroom I was to use (and shower in) had not been properly cleaned in who knows how long, and it was so bad I could not bring myself to shower there - I ended up commuting home every day to shower and get a break from the smells. I did end up dumping out and cleaning the litterbox the next day, and put fresh litter in it, and then I scooped it again before the end of the stay. There was a thick layer of dust on the toilet, mirror, and sink in the half bath on the first floor. I think the only clean room in the house was the room I slept in - bed had been obviously made up with clean linens and carpet had been recently vacuumed, but the surfaces and other decorative items in the room had not been dusted recently and were covered in a thick layer of dust. The dining room was being used to house the dogs' crates, and I noticed some old dried up feces near one of the crates - only one of the crates was currently in use and the trays had been removed from the other 3 crates - the dried up feces was in a crate without a tray that was not in use. The couch and chair covers in the living room had such a smell, it was obvious they had not been washed in a very ling time, if ever - I Febreezed them, to no avail. I had to sit on these covers with the dogs for "couch time" and the entire time I wanted to vomit because of the smell. Has anyone ever dealt with having to house sit in a dirty house, and if so how did you handle it? There is no way I will ever house sit for this person again - he is a very nice client, and I did not mind taking care of his pets, but I cannot stay in a house like that again. I will ... (more)

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Closed for the following reason question is not relevant or outdated by Deb A.
close date 2020-06-26 15:21:00.603199

9 Answers

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answered 2017-07-19 16:02:24 -0500

Unfortunately yes, I've had one client whose house was like this. Thankfully she had left it up to me if I wanted to spend the night or just drop in morning and evening (dogs had a dog door and could go potty anytime they wanted) so thankfully I didn't have to spend the night. Unfortunately this meant I spent my profits in gas commuting. Although same issue as you, sitting on the couch to spend time with the dogs was pure torture and the house smelled so bad. I did a meet and greet and it was much cleaner than a few weeks later when I was doing the care.

My recommendations, have a dedicated large blanket that you bring to your house sitting gigs. This way if you encounter a nasty couch you can cover it and wash it as desired. I've also learned the hard way to ALWAYS charge for a cat!!! ALWAYS!!!!! I've never had a situation where I didn't need to scoop a litterbox or clean up cat puke, people assume cats are the easiest pet for a pet sitter but I've not found that to be true at all. They're also the ones typically waking me up all hours of the night with their shenanigans.

First, don't comment on them cleaning their house. All this will result in is an angry client and a potentially harmful review. People have different tolerance levels for cleanliness of their homes and there's not much we can do about that. What you CAN do is just not care for their pets again, what I did with my client was told her the next time she asked that I could only do drop in visits and charged accordingly which increased the rate. She found someone else and I was more than happy to not have her as a client.

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Thanks for your input, Elizabeth. Good call on the blanket! I did a meet and greet about 2 weeks prior to the stay, but we stayed in the kitchen and the back yard - I really didn't get a tour of the house, so I did not realize the house was so dirty and the couch was so smelly.

Jody S.'s profile image Jody S.  ( 2017-07-19 17:26:26 -0500 ) edit
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answered 2018-02-08 19:34:18 -0500

This is an FYI for everyone! If you are house sitting a home that is filthy and you are not comfortable staying in, the Rover Staff can arrange for another sitter to come and take over the job.

I'm in one of these situations right now and wondering if I should leave... Call the Rover Hotline if you are uncomfortable - 888-453-7889

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They can’t guaratee a replacement so it’s actually pretty unfortunate. Lesson learned. What a shame.

Cynthia C.'s profile image Cynthia C.  ( 2018-02-28 22:10:04 -0500 ) edit

You should not take a job in a nasty filthy house in the first place. I am sure no Rover sitter will come and take over the job when she learns you are quitting because it's so disgusting :D

Lenka L.'s profile image Lenka L.  ( 2018-06-09 14:41:00 -0500 ) edit
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answered 2020-06-25 18:50:11 -0500

I am not there to judge their housekeeping. If someone's house is uninhabitable during the meet and greet I may not take it. Once it is booked and I arrive I only have two choices, deal with it or tidy up within reason. If the dog is going to the bathroom on the floor or something I would mention it as it relates to care, even if it is apparent that they for some reason let their dog go in the house.

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answered 2020-04-08 00:55:56 -0500

I don't know how you wouldn't have seen the stare of the house at the meet n greet?? I ask for them to show me where they would like me to sleep. Then I ask to see bathroom cuz usually shower combo is too hard for me to figure out on own lol. I ask where they take them out to potty so can see yard. It's just a basic tour of the house....... If you don't do that, it's a risk you take that the house will be unkempt. And if course I would never complain about that after the fact to the owner! The next time they reached out I would just say I can't help them anymore and give them links to other sitters on site. I usually bring a sheet or blanket to cover couches. If it's really that bad, I don't have a problem bringing my vacuum and doing some cleaning ;) And FYI many owners may not even know house stinks cuz nose deafness is a real thing!

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answered 2020-03-25 11:51:59 -0500

Yup I’m in that situation right now for THREE WEEKS. I could see it was very messy on the meet and greet. But there’s things like bathrooms that you don’t see the filth when you are just being shown the room. I think I’ll start asking to use the washroom during meet and greets so I can look closer. I too am not going to stay overnight. It’s good gas prices are low right now but it will still eat up money I could have used. During the day I’m just going to sit at the kitchen table and read a book and try not to touch anything.

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answered 2017-09-17 06:46:20 -0500

I don't house sit (for this exact reason, lol) But I'm just curious, do you do Meet & Greets for house sitting and inspect the houses before you agree to stay there for extended periods?

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I definitely do meet and greets, but this was my first overnight client and I did not get an official tour of the house. We stayed mainly in the kitchen and the back yard, so I did not really get to inspect the rest of the house until I was there to watch the pets.

Jody S.'s profile image Jody S.  ( 2017-09-18 10:42:30 -0500 ) edit

Here is the thing, I am doing a 36 day stay - the house is not visible dirty. It is the critters I find in my clothes and on me when I sleep. How was I supposed to check for those? They also are ticks which carry a lot of disease and beetles as well, and of course the centipedes that eat them.

Madison L.'s profile image Madison L.  ( 2019-05-11 13:01:39 -0500 ) edit
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answered 2018-06-09 09:14:18 -0500

I also had this happen to me. I had to sleep in a recliner cause the rooms were horrible. Client left dishes in sink. I did wash them cause they would start to smell. But I was there to take care of the dogs and so I cleaned up some so they would not get sick. She called me a couple of times but I said I was busy. Hope that helps.

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answered 2020-04-09 11:52:53 -0500

I appreciate everyone's responses, however this post is from 2017 and I am no longer pet sitting with Rover. There does not appear to be an option to turn off commenting, unfortunately.

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answered 2017-09-16 11:00:31 -0500

Omg the house I am in is sooooooo dirty! I can barely be here, but there are dogs. What do you do..ask for a full tour of the house before accepting?

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Definitely. Ask to be shown all the rooms you will use (BR, ba, LR & kitchen) and then the areas where animals are kept. That will show your professionalism because it gives you the opportunity to ask questions about their care. That way it doesn't look like you are doing a cleanliness inspection.

Karen R.'s profile image Karen R.  ( 2017-09-16 11:22:05 -0500 ) edit

Yeah good idea. It sucks cause I'm here now for a 2 week stay. May have to switch it to day visits somehow as I can't sleep here.

Kristin H.'s profile image Kristin H.  ( 2017-09-16 11:39:32 -0500 ) edit

Kristin, that's awful, I am so sorry. My stay was only for a few nights, thank goodness! But after that first client I definitely make sure I get a tour of the whole house...at least the rooms that I will be using, anyways.

Jody S.'s profile image Jody S.  ( 2017-09-18 10:44:06 -0500 ) edit

Yup! Ask to show where they would like me to sleep. Then I ask to see bathroom cuz usually shower combo is too hard for me to figure out on own lol. I ask where they take them out to potty so can see yard. It's just a basic tour of the house....... If you don't do that, it's a risk you take

Serina R.'s profile image Serina R.  ( 2020-04-08 01:00:58 -0500 ) edit