Hiring a house sitter this December? Here’s how to make it a successful arrangement

3 min read 03 December 2019

With house breaking being the number one crime in South Africa for 2018/2019, many South Africans opt to have their houses looked after while they are on holiday rather than letting them stand empty. The country’s largest general insurer Santam, says this is a great idea, but points out that there are some important things to consider when entrusting your home to someone else.

According to Statistics SA, approximately 5.8% percent of households reported incidents of home robbery to the police in 2018/19 with about 260 000 incidents taking place during the same period. The Santam Insurance Barometer Report 2019 cites burglary and theft as the second and third-largest perceived risks with a third of the total number of claims for home contents insurance resulting from burglary.

Attie Blaauw, Head of Personal Lines Underwriting at Santam, says, “Whether you are in the home or it is being looked after by someone else, insurance policies should be regularly updated and checked to ensure the risk of burgulary is always adequately covered.

“If you are getting house sitters, theft, attempted theft or malicious damage will still be covered, but it is imperative that the policyholder informs the insurer if someone else is staying in the property. This is important because an insurance policy is linked to the policyholder’s information. Your house sitter’s details will need to be added on a temporary basis.”

He said to reduce the risk of costly damages to a home, homeowners should enter the house sitting arrangement very carefully. “While having someone you know well look after your home is first prize, it isn’t always possible. If you need to use someone you don’t know, it is vital to assess professional house sitters thoroughly before entrusting them with your most valuable assets – particularly pets. “Check multiple references, and ensure the references are for people who are not related to the house sitter in any way.”

Whether a financial arrangement or a personal connection, it is still important to take the house sitting arrangement very seriously in order to avoid unwanted incidents or not having a claim paid out.

 Blaauw suggests doing the following before handing over the keys to a house sitter:

Once all of this is done you should be able to head off on a relatively undisturbed holiday – and come home to a fully functioning home!

Santam offers personal lines insurance across your home, vehicle and business. For more information, visit santam.co.za.