Bed bugs, Who's fault?

I have 3 guests that have been at my home for 2 months. 1 month with Airbnb and 1 month extra not with Airbnb due to their project taking longer than planned. There were 2 rooms available and 3 people staying there. I inspected the home after 1 month and found that they had brought 2 air mattresses and put on the floor in the living room and it appears they didn’t use the beds much or either they made them up every day but the linens on the air mattresses were not made up. Not sure if this has any thing to do with their sleeping practices but the guests were Asian). 2 days ago (2-20-20) the day before they were leaving one of them had obvious bed bug bites and after 2 days they look very bad. The other guest had no signs of bites. He said he used the bed for the first time but the 3rd guest had used it but had left about 3 weeks ago and had bites but not bad enough to be concerned and didn’t suspect bed bugs. My first thought is that they must have brought them in some how especially considering they were there for 2 months (sometimes leaving on the weekends). I have found information stating the bed bugs can live for several weeks and even months without feeding. Anyway, the guest is asking for compensation for getting bit and is threatening to contact Airbnb about it. They have not said what compensation they want. I am treating the home myself and don’t want to get Airbnb involved. I have spent $250 on supplies so far to deal with the problem. Fogged the place last night and going over there today to start the process and will be using more insecticide, steaming and vacuuming and repeating in 10 days and maybe a 3rd time. I’m trying to decide if I should compensate them (hopefully just a doctor visit and medication) and be done with it or stand my ground that I am not responsible and possibly keep the $400 deposit due to eradication expenses and potential lost revenue for keeping the dates blocked for a month. The place is in good condition except for more grease than normal around the stove and a strong food smell. The next guests are not scheduled to arrive until a month later.

AirBnB will shut you down until you can prove that the bedbugs have been eradicated. I’m not sure how easy it is to get rid of the bedbugs unless you use the heat method.

Well it does sound to me like it’s possible that the guest brought them with you I don’t really think you’re gonna be able to prove that and AirBnB is going to take their side and refund all their money.

Hi Lynick4442, Thanks for the reply. I am also looking into the heat method to use in addition to the other.

DO NOT Compensate the guests, they are trying to blackmail you. Kill the bugs any way you can and cancel all bookings until you can categorically prove there are no bedbugs. Would probably have been best if you had called in a professional to get rid of bedbugs they aren’t that easy to eradicate. The $250 you’ve spent would have gone a good way to paying a pro.


I’m trying to understand this because I don’t get why Airbnb should (or could) be involved. By the time the guests told you about the bites (so-called) then their Airbnb stay had been over for a month or more. Is this correct?

As Ken says, don’t even think about compensation. Their story is rather silly. They had been there for two months and only told you about the bites on the day before they were leaving? That sounds a bit weird. Hopefully you’ve got their threats to ‘tell Airbnb’ in writing.

Had there been bedbugs in the place during their Airbnb stay (the first month) then they should have told you at once.

You should not however, try to treat the problem yourself with chemical sprays. You need specialist treatment from a proper company that will give you, in writing, some evidence that you have attended to the problem.

Note too that mosquito bites, that happen to everyone all the time of they live in certain areas, are worse than bedbug bites. Unless a person is unusually sensitive to bites, then the guest shouldn’t need medication or doctor visits.


Why are you concerned about the guests going to Airbnb from what you said they were on a direct booking. @Nolan?

And it sounds much more likely your guests had additional people staying hence the airbeds and that’s why they had two air mattresses on the floor. (don’t know why you think it’s a cultural thing)

Personally I wouldn’t rely on using homemade solutions but would get a company into to fumigate your place. They will come in treat the place and then come back two weeks later to make sure there are no traces. Once they have done that you will be able to put your place back to be listed on Airbnb again.

You will need to wash all bedding, clothes, duvets, toweling etc in 60C wash.

Tell your guests that you are looking to charge them for the costs of fumigation because they have brought bed bugs into your place.

You can only keep the deposit if it says in your contract with the tenants that you are allowed to do so.

By the way bedbugs can live somewhere up to about seven months without feeding.

Sadly because of increase travel and stays at homes rather than hotels bedbugs are on the increase.

Make sure going forward you have mattress protectors and other preventative measures.


Bed bugs have a known reproduction and growth rate. A professional exterminator could look at the area and give you a good approximation of how long you’ve had them. However, at this point, I’m not sure it matters who’s fault it is, you’ve got them and you need to get rid of them.

Regarding compensation, it sounds like all of your guests are well past their Airbnb review periods. They are actually trying to extort you by telling you that they will contact Airbnb if they don’t get compensation. With Airbnb’s inconsistency, it’s anybody’s guess what Airbnb would do about the accusation of bedbugs or the extortion, though.


Have you actually confirmed that you have an infestation? How?

Yes, i inspected the bed in the room where the guest that was bitten was sleeping and found only a few on the box springs but definitely bed bugs. The guest had small bumps the day after but they were the size of nickels and quarters 2 days after on his head, neck, legs and arms.

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CHEMICAL SPRAYS DON’T WORK ON BEDBUGS. Only heat treatment will treat them, and you need to have professionals do it and certify that there are none left once they are done so that you can prove to Air that you are not infested.

These guys brought in bedbugs and are trying to extort you. If they report it to Air, Air will suspend your listing until a professional certifies that it is bedbug free.


I agree with @jaquo. Their story is full of crap. It is lucky that their 2nd month with you is entirely off-platform. So, there should be “no recourse with airbnb” for something they are claiming to have happened many weeks after their airbnb stay was over.

Here is a site that is worth taking a look at. Good prices and products.

I bet they brought those critters in and this is all blackmail. Also agree with @helsi - withhold the security deposit and have a professional take care of everything - and take the FULL amount off their security.

Be a smart landlord, start a PAPER TRAIL with them. Preferably with certified mail - so they know that you are serious and will make this formal and fight them. Read up on your state’s landlord/tenant laws. This could end up in small claims.

If they try and communicate with you on airbnb - just write back "your current booking with us is direct, and not through airbnb. So, ongoing keep all communication with us

Good luck!


I am very sorry you are going through this. Welcome to hell.

There is no way of proving who is responsible. If you have had previous reviews and there was no mention, that works in your favour.

The truth is that any guest can bring them in, and quite innocently. That’s why we go to great lengths to prevent them.

If Airbnb gets wind of this they will shut you down. Might be a thought to nail this with your guests now.

Everything washable goes in the wash along with a cup of bleach and dried 30 minutes minimum. Go to an industrial supplier and spray everything with their meanest and best. This means everyone and everything alive has to leave for at least two hours. Then vac the hell out of everything.

To do a proper job, everything should be superheated to 13O f for at least an hour. This should only be done by professionals.

You know the drill: bed bug mattress covers, pillow covers, steel bedframes, and spraying on rotations.

Oh, and one more thing.

Industrial supply houses keep strips of tape to put under bed posts. Anything sticks to them. Put them in, sticky side up. Wait a few days and examine them. Bed bugs look like apple seeds. Juveniles are smaller versions. That proves bugs, or no bugs.

Idiot guests sometimes try to extort money this way.

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Thanks everyone for all the replies. I have pretty much decided to go the professional rout for treatment. I did find a few dead bed bugs in the box springs seams near the top. No legal action was mentioned by them but I am wondering if there is the slightest chance they could win a case against me if they brought one. I am concerned that they could at the least cause me more time and money defending myself than it would cost to just pay a doctor and medicine bill if that’s all they want. I have not heard from anyone today (Saturday).

My son found bed bugs in his apartment and the landlord sent over an exterminator which sprayed the apartment. He told my son to wash everything in really hot water and dry at the hotest setting on dryer. Also said to enclose mattresses in zippered heavy plastic covers just in case there were eggs. If hatched, they would die because they’re enclosed and would not be able to find a food source.

Other people have already mentioned this, but you NEED to get a professional company to come in and heat treat your place. We had a long term rental in NC and our tenants left a bedbug problem when they moved out. It was obvious that they had unsuccessfully tried to deal with the problem. It was 1/2 of a duplex and we did not own the other half. Thankfully we caught the problem before the infestation moved next door. Chemicals will kill the adults but not the eggs. Once the eggs hatch, you have a new problem again. It cost us about $1200 to have an 800 SF space treated. We did not remove anything from the place and let professionals deal with it. They raise the temp in the house to 140 degrees F for several hours. This is the only sure way to kill both the adults and eggs. They are insidious and hide everywhere, including electrical outlets. Do yourself a favor and just suck it up and pay the money to have the problem dealt with directly and effectively. The company that did our place thought that the tenants had probably gotten the adults and what we found were eggs that were hatching as the weather was warming up. We luckily caught it before a full blown infestation occurred.


We had an issue with something similar, and yes, you 100% need pro help, but something that no one else mentioned: check the laws in your state because in Vermont where we live ANYONE who stays in your place for 30 days or more is considered a resident and it can be crazy stressful and expensive to get them out. You literally have to go through the eviction process (while they are not even paying!!!) and that could take MONTHS.

We have an AirBnB in our apartment and also rent out two apartments and locked into the lease is that no visitor can stay more than 21 consecutive days without being in the lease.

@Nolan, it’s been a week now since we heard from you. Can you update us and let us know the outcome?

Thanks so much for all the comments and info. I had a professional company come out and treat the house. They will come back and treat it again 10 days after the first treatment. I will make an update on status later. This site has some very helpful members. Thanks again!!!


I hope that it was heat treatment, because they are very resistant to pesticides.