Avert Bed Bugs from Your Home Rental
If you’ve been thinking about converting a spare room, vacation property or even your primary home into an Airbnb, one guest you’ll want to be sure to ban from the premises is bed bugs.
Unfortunately, with so many different customers passing through your rental, and notoriously lackluster support from Airbnb, battling bed bugs can be one of the most frustrating problems for a gig-economy hosting entrepreneur.
Bed Bugs Aren’t Picky About Accommodations
Let’s get this myth out of the way first: Bed bugs are not an indicator of social status, class, or poor sanitation. They do not discriminate when choosing infestation sites. No matter how well you vet your clientele, nor whether your rates are high enough to make your property cost-prohibitive to all but the elite, you cannot screen or price your way out of a potential bed bug problem.
The problem isn’t one of means or class, but of biology. Bed bugs are parasitic insects that like to make their homes in small cracks and crevices found near their preferred hosts: humans. They also make excellent hitchhikers; catching rides in the seams and folds of luggage, backpacks, and purses to help them relocate from place to place.
In most cases, travelers don’t even know that they are carrying them.
That’s why hotels have a particular problem with the pests. The more people who pass through your doors, the more bed bugs your property could be exposed to. That same math affects Airbnb owners.
An Airbnb-Exclusive Challenge
One problem unique to Airbnb hosts, however, is that Airbnb does not operate like a traditional lodging provider, such as Marriott or Best Western. Unlike chain hotel franchisees, Airbnb hosts are independent contractors for whom Airbnb simply provides a referral service. This limits Airbnb’s liability for problems, meaning that more often than not, solutions fall almost entirely on the hosts’ shoulders.
The best approach, as with most pest control problems, is a proactive one. First, outfitting your rental with products specifically designed to deter and detect bed bugs is an absolute must.
Cover all pillows and mattresses with encasements designed for bed bug protection (similar in concept to those meant to reduce allergies). This will prevent bed bugs from taking up roost in the folds and seams of the bedding, and make infestations more readily apparent so they can be treated sooner.
Bug detectors, or “interceptors,” are small, sleek plastic dishes that fit beneath furniture legs and trap bed bugs that attempt to summit tables and chairs. Again, these won’t prevent infestations, but could help identify a bed bug problem before it gets out of control if they’re checked on a regular basis.
Finally, rental properties should be inspected between every guest, to ensure they didn’t leave any stragglers behind.
The first place to look for bed bugs is—spoiler alert—the bed. If you have bed bug covers over the pillows and mattress, this process will be eminently easier. Peel back layers one at a time, starting with the comforter, eventually taking the sheets off completely. Then, check the frame, behind the headboard, and nightstands.
In addition to the actual critters, you’re looking for small, black or rusty red stains that could be spots of blood or excrement, some as small as the period at the end of this sentence.
If the bed is clear, it’s time to check cushioned seats, especially in the creases and folds. Then check drapery and curtains, and the carpet around the baseboards.
Have you found bed bugs in your Airbnb, or are interested in having a professional help set up a prevention and detection program for your rental property? Check out the commercial services before putting out your welcome mat.