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Housesitter’s to-do list: Squat and conquer

Should homeowner be worried about losing home to stranger?

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Editor's note: Robert Bruss is temporarily away. The following column from Bruss' "Best of" collection first appeared Sunday, April 16, 2006. DEAR BOB: We recently purchased a beautiful waterfront home in the state of Washington. This will become our retirement home in three years, but we are reluctant to rent this home and are leaning towards having a housesitter live in it until we move in. This individual is highly recommended by our new neighbors. However, I read somewhere if we allow an individual to house-sit, we are granting "squatter's rights." Is that correct? This individual would not pay rent but will pay the monthly expenses. --Jeanine W. DEAR JEANINE: "Squatter's rights" (legally called a "tenancy-at-sufferance") refers to occupancy without the owner's permission. Obviously, your housesitter will occupy the house with your permission so you need not worry about squatter's rights. Purchase Bob Bruss reports online. Be sure to consult your insurance agent...