This is a question that comes up from time to time when discussing house sitting. I have never been paid to house sit, but I have thought about it.
One of the things that I think should come into consideraton is why the house sit is being done. I have done it in the past because I have wanted the peace of living by myself, with plenty of time and space to continue my writing. So it suited me. And I only accept jobs that suit me. I have not paid for any utilities, and see no reason why I should do this. I do not use the phone of the owners, preferring to use my own mobile (cell) phone. This incidentally costs me more - but I don't wish to run up a bill on the owners phone.
I am aware that the owner would have to pay a considerable sum of money for the care of pets, garden, the security of the house, and the collection of mail which think are the main benefits to them of having a house sitter. I've not been requried to do anything else, but I know there are some housesitting jobs where there are other expectations of the house sitter.
I am aware that by taking on the house sitting position, I have restricted my own movements - and if I had to go somewhere for business or family (I do have considerable family in South Australia - including elderly parents) so if an emergency arrives, I have to make suitable arrangements - especially for the pets.
So, is it a fair deal that I or a house sitter do it for zero payment? It depends.
But let's look at this.
To put a cat or dog into kennels or cattery, can cost between $20 - $35 a day I think, so if there is one pet, I save the family over $200, and if there are two pets, the saving might be $400. Secruity of the house - I don't know what you'd have to pay for a daily/frequent visit - I'd think a couple of hundred dollars. Watering of garden? Could be $20 to $40 a week?
The utilities - power. Sure I use a little power - but much of the power is used by fridge, freezer etc that must remain on. I'd suspect that the power I would use (as I cook little), rarely use airconditioning if it is there, but perhaps I could use $10 power per week. OK, say $20.
Also I have a house - where I still have to pay for my utilities - though they are less when I am not at home.
So with one pet, secruity and watering of garden, I save the family some $400 a week. Perhaps to pay me $100 would be fair? Anyway, I'm not asking for money. But it is something for the home owner and sitter to consider.
Now the above is for short house sits - up to 6 or 8 weeks. What if the house sit was longer? A year? It depends. It depends on what the house sitter is expected to do, and why the house sitter is doing a house sit for a long period. I think there is more responsibility for the house sitter, and more restrictions. (Having to stay put for a year is a big committment!) However, if the house sit afforded the sitter a long holiday in a great property, or a place to stay while renting out your own home, or building or similar, where you are actually saving money because of the house sit, you need to weigh up the benefits to you, and the benefits to the house sitter.
I do think ANY house sitter who has any tasks (caring for animals, watering the garden, collecting mail, security, deserves some small payment. I know that most house sitters have given me a gift - I have been left a bottle of wine, chocolates etc, which I appreciate and sometimes a lovely gift from one of the countries they visited, and I appreciate that.
So that both parties benefit.