Everthing going OK until this morning

Been hosting for a couple of months, About 20 stays. All 5 stars. The Airbnb generated highlights on the listing says “10 recent guests have said that this home was sparkling clean.”

So this morning I get a message and photo from the current guest, who’s been there since Monday, its now Thursday morning, showing bites on her leg. She says she’s researched it and concluded that my place doesn’t have bed bugs but has fleas. (More background…Her profile says that she’s a pharmacist. She had two positive reviews from other hosts. She’s in town for a week long conference.)

She says she’s moving out. (By the way, she mentioned prior to her stay that she has a brother that lives a block or two away)

So 10 min ago I sent her this message:

“I’m so sorry to hear this. I understand your concern. I’ve never had anyone else have express any kind of issue like this but do what you feel you have to do. I’ll look into this further this morning. Again my apologies”

I haven’t contacted Airbnb yet. I thought I would see if you all had any suggestions first…

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I wouldn’t apologise, it’s like an admission of liability sadly. She could have got the bites from elsewhere.
What is the history of the property re possible exposure to fleas? It would be good if you could get an all clear from a pest controller as evidence. I think you can test yourself with white paper on the carpet.


Do you think she’s trying to get a refund because she’s decided to stay with her brother?


I’d try to resolve this directly with the guest. Airbnb gets really uptight about any kind of bug issue - up to the point they’ll cancel your upcoming reservations until you have an all-clear from an exterminator.

Get ahead of this by having an exterminator inspect the place for any sign of fleas. If there is an issue, I’d proactively refund your guest. If there’s no issue, I’d say as much to the guest - at least if she goes to Airbnb at that point you have evidence to back your case.


Not sure what you mean regarding the white paper on carpet. I guess I can check Youtube… but wait, 80% of the 1 bedroom, 1 bath apt is hardwood other 20% in kitchen and bath is ceramic tile. Just small 2 x 3 rugs on both sides of bed and 8 x 10 rug in front of sofa under coffee table in living room

Not sure

White paper is so you can see fleas jumping on it. If it’s a hardwood floor fleas can live in gaps between boards, skirtings etc…


She just sent me another message said that she’s moved out and sent me an image of a cleaner receipt (for her clothes) and wants me to pay for last night’s stay and for a hotel that she has subsequently booked for tonight ($150 + $113.62.)

By the way, she believes that the fleas are in the 8 x 10 shag rug in the living room in front of the sofa and under the coffee table.

Right now, I’m googling exterminators. Urggh.

I haven’t responded to her request yet…

Get pest control clearance asap and call Airbnb.
Looks like she knows the system very well. 2 positive reviews mean nothing.


If you don’t mind a flea bite or two, wear shorts, & stand on the rug. I know sounds gross but if you simply walk into the unit, you are getting the same exposure, may as well make it a fact finding mission. Yep, white paper helps you to see th bugs.

You will know within a few moments if there are fleas. They will be hopping on your legs. Many people with dogs or cats has dealt with a flea infestation before. It will take 2 or 3 bug bombings to get ride of the fleas, the hatchlings, and eggs. The time between egg laying & hatching is two weeks so count on weekly treatments.

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I told her that I will be in touch with her later today. I’m scheduled to meet an exterminator at the property this afternoon.

I’ll let you all know what happens.


Why did she have to get her clothes cleaned?


Not exactly sure why she had to get her clothes cleaned. I’m envisioning her sitting on the rug watching Netfix or reading the magazines on the coffee table. I don’t know, LOL.

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Unless your guest is an insectologist she cannot make any conclusions as to what the bites are or indeed when and where she has come by them.

I think it was a mistake to apologise and to tell her ‘do what you have to do’. She has taken you at your word and landed you with a massive bill.

In your situation I would have told her you think (presuming you don’t accept pets) that it is highly unlikely to be bites she picked up at your place. But to cover all bases, you are happy to bring in an expert, but if nothing is found, she will need to pick up the bill for them and cover any expenses she incurred as a result of her choice to leave your place.

Hopefully by now you have managed to get a specialist out to do a report. Once you know their findings you can take it from there.


Helsi, good advice. Will use that going forward…

Exterminator is on his way… I still don’t think its too late to use a form of your recommendation. Just because I’m sorry of someone experiencing a negative situation doesn’t mean I’m admitting that I’m the cause of it. If somehow the bites happened in the unit, I’ll take care of her, if not and I have documentation from exterminator indicating that everything is clear… we’ll craft an appropriate response.


You are correct, no pets are allowed

Flea eggs can live in skirtings or between floorboards for a few years so could have been the previous owner. Chances are there are no fleas anyway!

I’ve had fleas and have not had to have my clothes cleaned. That, IMO, is ridiculous.

I rid my cats of fleas with a bath and a daily flea combing. I kept the fleas out of the house by using Borax on the carpets and vacuuming daily with a fresh hepa vacuum bag each time. After a month of this my cats and house were flea free (I think a month was overkill but I kept it up just to be sure).

I have to agree with this:


A few hundred years ago everyone had fleas all the time. Hence John Donne thought fleas might even be seductive …

The Flea


Mark but this flea, and mark in this,

How little that which thou deniest me is;

It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,

And in this flea our two bloods mingled be;

Thou know’st that this cannot be said

A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead,

Yet this enjoys before it woo,

And pampered swells with one blood made of two,

And this, alas, is more than we would do.

Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,

Where we almost, nay more than married are.

This flea is you and I, and this

Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is;

Though parents grudge, and you, w’are met,

And cloistered in these living walls of jet.

Though use make you apt to kill me,

Let not to that, self-murder added be,

And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since

Purpled thy nail, in blood of innocence?

Wherein could this flea guilty be,

Except in that drop which it sucked from thee?

Yet thou triumph’st, and say’st that thou

Find’st not thy self, nor me the weaker now;

’Tis true; then learn how false, fears be:

Just so much honor, when thou yield’st to me,

Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.
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There is no way I would reimburse her for the cleaning of her clothes. Total BS. I would not pay for the hotel either. If you discover the place does have fleas, I would just refund whatever she paid you. Because it sounds like she just decided on her own how to remedy the situation without you agreeing to any of it. The whole thing sounds a bit ridiculous.


OK, exterminator just left. Didn’t see any signs of fleas or bed bugs but admitted that bed bugs can hide. (Concurred with others here, there’s no way to know with any certainty what were the cause of the bites) He sprayed the baseboards in the unit and will later today email a letter explaining that the unit has been checked and exterminated (to use for Airbnb).

In considering my response to the guest, I’m going over the timeline in my head…

7:07 am She sends me message indicating she’s moving out along with photos of her leg showing bites

8:04 am She goes to cleaners and leaves all of her clothes to be cleaned. (Sends me a pre-paid receipt for $113.62 at 9:32 am but the time stamp on the receipt from the cleaners is 8:04 am)

8:19 am I wake to see her message and send her: " I’m so sorry to hear this. I understand your concern. I’ve never had anyone else have express any kind of issue like this but do what you feel you have to do. I’ll look into this further this morning. Again my apologies."

9:43 am She books a room for tonight via HotelTonight.com and sends me a copy of the invoice for $150.

10:41 am I send: I’ll be back in touch later today. I’m meeting an exterminator at the unit later this afternoon.

That’s where we are. I haven’t reached out yet to Airbnb. All of the above communication is via Airbnb so they will be able to see the communication.

Again, to date 11 reviews at this place, all 5 star. Expect to be Superhost shortly (whatever that’s worth)