Peace of mind and a reduced security risk are reasons many homeowners hire house sitters while they are out of town. Operating as a professional house sitter or as a house-sitting service may require you to be licensed through state, county or local government agencies. In some states, the tax department may ask you to collect a tax on your house-sitting services. If you are not interested in exploring house-sitting as a business, you might be interested in being employed through a house-sitting service.
Find out if your state has a licensing process for house sitters. Contact your state's license and regulations department or view licensing information from the state government website, usually the secretary of state's website. Find out whether the state has any type of license, permit or other requirements for individuals working as professional house sitters. Most states require all businesses to be registered with the state, and some may require a sales tax license.
Check with your city and county governments for permit and licensing requirements for a house sitter. Again, you may be asked to purchase a business license or pay a business registration fee to work as a house sitter in your area. Explore the possible requirements by contacting each government's business-licensing department.
Contact local surety agents, and ask about getting bonded. State business licenses might not require a background check or proof of a clean criminal record for house sitters. Getting bonded happens in addition to any required license or permits and provides a level of comfort for the home owner and lowers their security risk.
Here is how bonding works. You pay a fee to the bonding agent (insurance companies are bonding agents) and in return the agent will run a background check on you and then bond you for a specific amount of money. The home owner will be compensated up to the bond amount for any damages incurred during your stay. Being bonded could improve your house-sitting opportunities and allow you to charge a bit more for your services.
Working for a professional house-sitting services may offer the benefit of working for a business without the need for a personal house-sitting business license. Look for house-sitting services that employ and bond their sitters. You may have to pay a fee to join or go through an application process before getting a house-sitting opportunity.