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Since vacant homes can be a magnet for break-ins or vandalism, it’s a good idea for homeowners to try to protect their investments by engaging someone to occupy or regularly visit the premises. Clients should understand that having someone living in or inspecting a vacant home can be critical to protecting a property, as long as it’s the right someone and the expectations are well understood by both sides. The right forethought can avoid unintended problems from occurring.

Vacant Home

In the past, a house sitter usually was known to the owner-a relative or friend who could be counted on to stay in the property or regularly visit it to give it that lived-in appearance. More recently, the Internet has spawned numerous on-line services to help match up homeowners and house sitters.

“People are often lax about their property when they invite a friend or neighbor to sit, and they don’t necessarily communicate and agree on what needs to happen,” said Dick Ryther, Vice President of Risk Control Services at US-Reports. A prized possession may be broken, a small leak overlooked or the sitter’s priorities may change, leaving the untended home ripe for a break-in.

A better source of occupancy may be an agency where the expectations are more likely to be clearly spelled out for all parties. “If your client is considering engaging a house sitter through an agency, it is wise to do a background check, a references check and to make sure that person is insured and the agency bonded,” he said.

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