HOW does not paying rent sound?
It's possible, with Northern Rivers home owners taking up the trend of recruiting house-sitters online, to look after their properties while they travel.
House-sitters can find an array of places to live at for free, for up to weeks at a time, on sites including Housecarers.com, HousesittersAustralia.com, TrustedHouseSitters.com, and AussieHouse Sitters.com.
Listings include what sort of a sitter hosts have in mind, what skills might be required (ride-on mowing, feeding pets medicine), the number and types of pets and animals on the property (ranging from stock to gold fish) and the exact time period a sitter is required.
Most listings, but not all, prefer elderly couples or singles, but not families with children. Not all listings have pets.
Tania Williams, a 65-year-old naturopath from The Channon, joined a list of house-sitters for $55-year on HouseCarers.com in 2015.
She also uses TrustedHouseSitters. Since 2015, she's house sat five times locally and for three months in Mexico.
"When you're a member you write down what area you're interested in and you will automatically get an email telling you when something is available,” Ms Williams said.
"I picked up a house at Ballina in August for a month, a few blocks down from the beach.
"My role primarily was to make sure Wombat the dog was happy, look after the veggie garden and feed the fish.
"It's an amazing way to get around. I you were the type of person who could work remotely you could literally house sit forever.”
Giovanni Cordeiro and partner Robert Godfrey list their stylish four-bedroom Clunes home on HouseCarers.comn to holiday for up to six weeks at a time.
Mr Coredeiro, a retired Southern Cross researcher, said house-sitters maintained their Balinese styled gardens and kept the property secure.
"In this area, everybody wants to come and stay here for free, so we had no shortage of interesting applicants online,” Mr Cordeiro said.
"The first time we had an online listing over 42 people wrote to us, so it gave us a lot of applicants to narrow down check references.
"We get them to come a day earlier so that we can get a sense of how comfortable we are with them.”
Mr Coredeiro and Mr Godfrey have made friends with some sitters and are soon listing a stay at their property while they holiday in Bangkok and China.
Speaking from a Newcastle property where he's looking after a cat, Housecarers.com founder Ian White said no business regulations applied to the house sitting arrangement.
"Many of our house-sitters are happy retirees, trusted, and happy to take a break in the Northern Rivers for a change of scenery or a break from the road,” Mr White said.
"We promote and encourage for house-sitting to be a non-commercial agreement, where the house carer is a guest in the home.
"We have an agreement which is based on a tenancy agreement and the home-owner can ask for a bond if they wish.
"If both parties sign the agreement it becomes a legal document, but it is not regulated under the real estate bodies.”
The NSW Office of Fair trading recommends researching a wide range of websites, phoning operators to ask questions and checking references of the house sitters.
The Law Society of NSW recommends agreements are drawn up as a legal document with the help of a solicitor.
Property Law Committee chairman John McIntyre told Choice Magazine house-sitting arrangements looked deceptively simple and warned users to exercise caution.
FIVE NORTHERN RIVERS LISTINGS:
1. LISMORE: Cat sitter for four weeks on five acre property.
2. KYOGLE: Dog and cattle sitter for four nights
3. WILSON'S CREEK: Sitting six dogs for about three weeks at 20 acre rainforest retreat
4. TWEED HEADS: Sitting two dogs for seven days at house
5. MULLUMBIMBY: Two dogs for for five nights on 20 acres off the grid home