Airbnb refunded due to cockroaches: how to review guest?

I had a guest recently from a cold place. He mentioned it was his first time on the tropical island where I host. He had booked at one of my lowest offered rates. Where I host ants, mosquitoes, cockroaches, and other bugs are common here; and I think they are not common where he is from.

On the first day, he mentioned there were ants near the bathroom. I sent someone to spray that area. The next day he mentions there are cockroaches. I have a monthly contract with a pest control company. I asked the pest control company to take a look. There were cockroaches, and they did some treatment. The next day he complained that he saw another cockroach and said he didn’t want to stay there anymore.

At this point, there wasn’t much I could do, so I asked my local host group if anyone had a vacancy. There was a similarly sized place available, so I offered to have him move there. Guest says he is not interested in moving and would like a full refund. I declined the refund request as I felt this might be a scam, and if he was concerned about cockroaches, he could have taken my offer to move to a different place.

The next day he checked out, and I don’t know if he left the island or if he checked in to a different place. He called Airbnb and opened a case. I told Airbnb of all the actions I took, and I did not want to refund. Airbnb gave him a full refund of the remaining nights and 20% off for the two nights he stayed.

After that, I did not hear from him.

He has left me a review, and I don’t know what to do in this scenario. I think he was really after a refund. I also think there is a possibility that he might not be a scammer as there were cockroaches and his complaint was legitimate. He also checked out while a scammer would have simply pestered for a refund so they could have a free stay. I did all I could, so I’m thinking about leaving a one-star as he opened a case with Airbnb and got a refund.

I am also wondering if I can get the review removed as a retaliatory review, particularly since he did not get the full refund that he asked me for.

I have also read that Airbnb also deactivates listings if pests are reported, so I might be taking too much of a risk by writing an honest review of this guest.

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From what I have read from other hosts experiences, vermin/ pests/ bugs have resulted in a full refund to the guest and a suspended listing. I think you we’re treated reasonably by the CSR.
As far as the review- you will have to review yourself or wait the 14 days to see what was said and if removable.


I live in the tropics and make it clear to guests that ants, cockroaches, scorpions, etc. are endemic to the area. That while all indoor spaces are well-cleaned and bug-free when they arrive, that doesn’t mean more bugs may not come in and that I don’t use toxic chemicals.

I would never act responsible for such things, nor as if it were reasonable for a guest to freak out or complain about seeing an insect.


Is your listing very clear that it’s possible to see those creatures inside? We have a house in the tropics that is open air (not sealed and no glass over the windows) so my house rules say there WILL be visitors such as insects in the house and their presence will not be grounds for a refund. Whether that would hold up with the AirBnB CS or not I don’t know, but so far, no one has tried to get a refund for bugs.


What should I have done differently? Did I end up taking responsibility by inviting the pest control person?

No. I will add it to the house rules list. I know most guests won’t read but I will have something to show them when they start complaining. There are very few who complain.

as someone who lives in the tropics also, surely you know that after a spray you are going to see MORE dead bugs for a while? I would have explained that to a guest too. but honestly, was this 1 cockroach? my house is treated and i had one in my wardrobe last week (in winter!), so i killed it and moved on with my life.

You need to have an info sheet on bugs in your place, educating people on the realities of tropical life. Endemic is a word many people understand nowadays, I also use “indigenous” which is a nice trigger word for most Aussies to shut up and be respectful. My listing is in rural Australia in a cool temperate climate, but it’s Australia, bugs and spiders are everywhere, and thankfully most Aussies are pretty chill about bugs, but every now and then we get some city dweller who lives in a high rise and apparently has never seen a single living insect… so I still address this issue in my house info, and remind them that nature includes ALL creatures, not just the cute ones. We spray outdoor furniture weekly in spring/summer, but you just can’t stop flying insects from doing their thing, no amount of pest control can create a barrier against winged insects (and many spiders can “fly” in their own way), and cockroaches have wings.

and yes, this complainer needs a min 3* review and i’d recommend the classic “best suited to a hotel” zinger. you did everything you could to address it, you’ve spent money to appease them and still ended up out of pocket. complaining about bugs in the tropics is stupid.


There is lots of good advice here from those who host in areas with common bugs. I would be concerned about giving the guest a 1. Airbnb might see this as you being retaliating against the guest for complaining. The “best suited to a hotel” suggestion would work. I might say, I don’t recommend renting to X if there is any chance of there being common insects in your listing.


He will most likely give you an awful review. At this point think about what your response will be to his bad review. Mention again that you’re in the tropics and it’s common to get “visitors” inside.


I recently started sending guests that booked a reminder right after they book about the really unique aspects of our home - it’s open air (bugs and birds and maybe even bats or mice will visit them inside) and we have staff on-property including a housekeeper. I invite them to cancel right away if that doesn’t work for them.


Yes. You are reinforcing the guest’s attitude that he has a legitimate complaint.

Plenty of people get freaked out by bugs, that I understand- people have unwarranted fears of many things. That their aversion to something is valid (their own feelings) isn’t the same as it being reasonable to expect that there aren’t insects everywhere in the tropics.

An infestation, which of course is a host’s responsibility to make sure isn’t the case, is different from spotting a few bugs. Seeing insects in the tropics is as normal as seeing squirrels in the city or raccoons or bears in temperate rural areas.

One guest came downstairs to tell me matter-of-factly that there was a spider on the ceiling over her bed, that she had a spider phobia and was afraid it would fall off the ceiling. Fair enough. I assured her they don’t “fall off” the ceiling or walls (a little practical education), but grabbed the vacuum cleaner and sucked it up. There was no freak-out, no demand for a refund, no wanting to check out early.

Another time a guest told me there were suddenly a bunch of ants all over the walls in her bathroom. I went up and took a look, said that, oh yeah, it was the time of year when those type of ants send out scouts looking for a place to hide their eggs. That it’s usually short-lived and in half an hour they’d likely be gone on their own, that I could get my spray bottle of insecticide, but she might not want to sleep in a room that reeked of insecticide (it was about 9pm) and I could just manually kill them, her choice.

We ended up whacking them with shoes, me on a stool killing the ones high on the wall, her getting the ones lower down. At one point I looked down and said lightly and jokingly, “Just don’t mention this in the review, okay?”
She didn’t.

I talk about bugs with guests casually, as it is just part of life in the tropics, and it seems to keep guests from thinking it’s a huge deal.


I don’t think it’s fair of you to give the guest 1 star just because you are afraid of what they will say. The guest was upfront about their concerns, communicated and when they didn’t like the solution they left. I presume they left your place in good shape since you didn’t mention it.

And no one has really drafted a starting point for your review, here’s one option: Guest booked our place on a tropical island where it’s impossible to keep common pests completely out, despite consistent pest control measures. Guest left early as a result and filed for a refund.

I think other hosts should know that he’s not a good candidate for certain places.


Just had this happen! Guest sent me 3 pictures of dead Palmetto bugs. I personally cleaned the condo before his arrival so I knew they were new.

“Thank you for telling me. Good to know the bug spraying is working.

Those critters can get to almost 3 inches long & fly. We jokingly call them the state bird.

They tend to come in during times like now of heavy rain. If one wanders in & you see him before the anti-bug spray kills him, don’t stomp him-they splatter & stick to your shoe. Use toilet paper & flush him away. “

Response was laughter & good review.

Btw to call bug service is not an overreaction. I’ve done it a couple times. One guest reported bed bugs, my guy came quickly & encouraged guest to inspect bed with him. No bed bugs found. Guest happy. Then there was a mosquitoes can bite you through your clothes discussion.


excellent conversation with guests!

Also midgies are basically invisible fiends who can get through mesh screens, and bite you, and then you think you’re going mad, being bitten by something that isn’t there. In summer we cannot sleep with the windows open due to them. :confused:


There are certain sprays that are odorless and can be used between guests even the same day. Open food is a magnet for cockroaches; all foods should be in containers. Never, ever bring cardboard boxes to your property in the tropic (classic roach motels). And water is the reason for the ants (besides food of course), and anyone that complaints too much about them already falls under the pain-in-the-a**-club-category and wouldn’t be invited back anyway.

The key to how to handle this reality is make light of it; no heaviness. Do not be too quick to start apologizing for the reality of the tropical zone of Mother Earth. "Oh you found a dead cockroach, Great!, been after that smart one for ages; so how are you doing?", meaning get off bug conversations quickly.


Yes, I learned about the cardboard pretty quickly after moving to the tropics. Plastic totes and crates replaced all cardboard boxes.

However, you are wrong about the ants. There are many types of ants where I live, all with different habits, and different reasons for entering a house, having nothing to do with moisture or food. Some look for secret places to stash and tend their eggs and I have found them nesting behind pictures on the wall, in a wooden box of game pieces, and under my couch cushion on the built-in concrete bench.

Once a literal army of big black ants, a swath a foot and a half wide, and seemingly without end, suddenly swarmed up my terrace steps, over the outside table, through the open kitchen doors, up and across the kitchen counter and out the window over the sink. It was like a biblical plague or a scene from a horror movie.

Within 15 minutes there was no sign of them- they were just passing through, taking a shortcut to wherever they were going.


Referring to the shower, when it is wet oftentimes ants suddenly appear, momentarily. The world of ants is a massively complicated one, at least according to the last one I had a conversation with just lately.

Again, the point is never square to any talk about bugs, turn, walk in parallel with the messenger and move the conversation off the bug subject quickly.


There is an insect here which is probably the scariest looking bug anyone has ever seen and including the spider-like legs, can get as big as a dessert plate. Called a vinegaroon, false scorpion or whip-tail scorpion (but not related to scorpions at all), they have no toxin, don’t sting or bite, are quite shy and seek dark places, and are good guys who eat other bugs. I have a dead one in a jar to show my homeshare guests so they don’t have a heart attack if they happen to see one.


How interesting, but evolution wasn’t too kind to this fellow, he looks like one big evolutionary mess; he probably couldn’t make up his mind what he wanted to be.


I have a soft spot for those guys, as well as the similarly misunderstood house centipede which are common where I live now.


You rang?
In AZ I knew about these before I finally saw one.

In the middle of the night with bad jet lag, I get up turn on the light and guess what’s walking on my bedroom floor? I managed to get a jar and then escort him outside.

This photo is from a less weird outdoor encounter.