We’ve got in the habit of referring to bed bugs as pests. It’s common jargon. But these blood-sucking creatures are more than a mere nuisance. Just as anyone who’s found themselves dealing with a full-scale infestation. They’re not annoyed. They’re panicked. They’re stressed.
Most bed bug infestations begin innocently enough. You pick up a stray couple of bed bugs on your travels, bring them into your home and, boom, they start to reproduce and spread throughout the house. We know that hotels and motels are major hotspots for bed bug activity. It’s one of the most common ways people encounter, and pick up, bed bugs. But what about those quaint and calming Airbnb rentals? How do they stack up when it comes to bed bug interactions?
How Common are Bed Bugs in Airbnb Homes?
The good news is that bed bugs aren’t as common in Airbnb homes as they are in hotels. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t an ongoing problem. According to recent polls conducted by Map Happy, 10% of Airbnb users contacted reported finding bed bugs in their Airbnb listings. While that’s better than hotel statistics it’s still not great.
A bigger problem is that there is almost no way to know in advance if your Airbnb booking has a history of bed bug complaints. The fact is, whenever a bed bug complaint is registered at Airbnb the home’s listing is suspended. This eliminates the review history so when the home is relisted you have no way of knowing if the problem existed, let alone if it has been resolved. That’s not ideal.
Airbnb, Bed bugs, and You
Protecting yourself from bed bugs when staying at an Airbnb begins with you. We’ve covered how to avoid bed bugs at hotels and resorts in the past, and the rules of engagement are pretty much the same:
- Inspect the Accommodations – Before you settle in and unpack check out the rooms. Examine the beds and bed linens for any signs of bed bug activity. Don’t forget to also check upholstered furniture, drapes, and wall hangings as well as cupboards, baseboards and crevices.
- Keep your Luggage Safe – While you’re inspecting the house keep your luggage in a bathroom if possible. Bed bugs are less likely to be hiding in or on tiled surfaces. Don’t unpack until you’re certain the house is free of pests.
These tips should be standard practice whenever you’re staying in a foreign environment, whether it’s a hotel, resort or Airbnb. For more detailed advice check out our post on What to Do if You Find Bed Bugs in Your Hotel Room.
How to Deal with Bed Bugs in Your Airbnb
If you find bed bugs in your Airbnb booking there are some important steps you should take. It doesn’t matter if you find them on the first night of your stay or if it takes you several days to discover the problem. Remember, your health and safety is paramount and you have every right to protect yourself and your family from bed bugs when renting any publicly offered accommodation. So don’t be shy.
- Notify Your Hosts – Whether you wake up with bed bug bites or simply notice the tell-tale signs of bed bugs in your Airbnb rental you should immediately notify your hosts. Ideally, your host will provide a solution that suits you both, such as refunding your money or moving you to another property.
However, If you cannot come to a satisfactory agreement there are further steps you can, and should, take.
- Report the Infestation to Airbnb – If your host is uncooperative you may need to take your complaint to Airbnb directly. You will want to have proof to back up your claims so you will need to collect some evidence.
Take photos of any bed bug bites on you or your family. You will also want to take pictures of any stray bed bugs, exoskeletons, and fecal or blood stains on bed linens. Turn over your claim and your evidence to Airbnb along with your request for a full refund.
Move Out Immediately – You can not stay in a bed bug infested home. Nor should you be expected to. Look for alternative accommodations and prepare to move. In order to protect yourself from taking any bed bugs with you’ll need to take some precautions.
First, cover your luggage with plastic trash gabs and keep them covered for the remainder of your trip. Wash all of your clothing in hot water at your earliest opportunity. Keep your freshly laundered clothes in separate sealed plastic bags to avoid any potential cross-contamination.
When you get back home carefully unpack your belongings. Examine everything for bed bugs and take this opportunity to wash your clothes again. Finally, vacuum your suitcases and, if possible, store them in isolation.
Airbnb Bed Bug Policies
Unfortunately, Airbnb doesn’t have any clear-cut policies regarding bed bug complaints from their guests. So there is no guarantee your report will be followed up on, or that you will receive a refund on your rental costs. However, that doesn’t mean you’re without options.
Bed bug infestations have become such a growing concern across the country that several law firms have taken on lawyers that specialize in bed bug cases. If all else fails, and you feel that you would like to pursue legal action against Airbnb and the hosting family, you have every right to consult an attorney that specializes in bed bug litigation.
Published by Scott Palatnik
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