Transcript #28 How to Prevent Bedbugs in Your Airbnb. Stop these critters from causing thousands of dollars of loss.

See a related post with more info on how to prevent bed bugs at your aibnb

Announcer:

Welcome to the Vacation Home Help Podcast, the only podcast dedicated to helping vacation rental owners self-manage their properties. Your host delivers short and sweet episodes with actionable advice, tips, and strategies to level up your hosting skills.

Whether you are a complete beginner.

Or have been in the vacation home rental business for a while, you are in the right place to get the tools you need to succeed. Here are your hosts, John Candelario and Tim Casey.

John Candelario:

Hi everybody. Today, Tim and I are going to talk about bed bugs. No one likes those little critters, but we want to make sure you’re aware of what they are, how they operate and why you want to keep them out of your Airbnb. I remember talking to Tim about bed bugs and I freaked him out a little bit, right Tim?

Tim Casey:

You freaked me out a lot, John.

John Candelario:

I know. It’s because when you start doing the vacation rental business, bed bugs are the last thing that you think about, but they should be on the top of your priority list. Do you want to share why?

Tim Casey:

Well, John, why don’t we start with sharing what happens if you get bedbugs? What do you have to do? And what does an owner need to be thinking about? And the reason I say maybe we start there is because once you shared that with me, I was motivated to do everything humanly possible to prevent bed bugs.

John Candelario:

Right, and let’s talk about what they are. These little critters, they feed on human beings, they feed on animals, but they like beds, they like carpets and they like to house themselves in there. People bring bed bugs in their luggage from wherever they come from. But once they go into your home, they can make thousands and thousands of eggs. And if they make eggs, you have an infestation. If you have an infestation, guess what? You also have to do remediation, very expensive remediation. And Tim, when you were exploring this, how much could this remediation be, getting rid of the bed bugs?

Tim Casey:

Oh my goodness. It depends, but you’ve got to think about things like, do you have to replace mattresses? Do you have to replace box springs? Do you have to tear out carpet and replace it? And that may be worst case scenario. And I’ll tell you this, John, a lot of pest control companies say, “Oh, don’t worry, we can get rid of them.” I don’t think that’s necessarily true. What do you think, John?

John Candelario:

It’s not completely true. What ends up happening is, the pest control company will guarantee that they can get rid of all of the bed bugs. But you can’t fully guarantee the service, because there’s always a possibility of the bed bugs coming back. A lot of pest control companies are putting a guarantee saying they’ll come back to reapply the treatment, if you find more. But as a host, that’s not 100% certainty and you don’t want to rent out your house to guests if you’re not sure that they’re out of there. So you’re going to have to get new mattresses, new box springs, order new linens. They say you could use a hot water wash to get rid of the bed bugs, but be honest, do you want someone sleeping on a bed that was invested or with sheets that had bed bugs? Probably not. So you may have to replace those things.

And if you have carpets, you might even have to pull up the carpets and get those replaced as well. We’re talking that one bed bug incident could cost upwards $10,000 or more. And you have to think about if you have to cancel guests because of this, because it’s not just the guest that found the bed bugs, it’s also the next guest coming in that you might have to cancel. Right? So there’s a lot going on and the best thing to do is prevent it.

Tim Casey:

And this is where, John-

John Candelario:

[inaudible 00:03:38].

Tim Casey:

… Yeah. And this is where you really schooled me. I’ll tell you, as soon as you gave me bedbug 101 coaching, the next step is I went ahead and purchased covers, got them from Amazon, plugged Amazon, covers for my box springs, bedbug covers for the mattresses. And then I make sure that I have a better protocol for dealing with my comforters and all of those other things that can create, or I guess maintain an infestation of bed bugs. It wasn’t cheap and it wasn’t necessarily easy because you’ve got to literally unmake all the beds, put the covers, the bed bug covers on the box springs, then the mattresses. But it does give you peace of mind. And more than anything, it gives me peace of mind that I’m renting a home to a guest that has really had some good preventative measures put in place.

John Candelario:

Right. And preventing is way cheaper than having to deal with the problem later. So big kudos to you for going out and taking action on my advice, right?

But thinking about it, you have to buy the right stuff. And you just mentioned some of these things. It’s a mattress cover. It looks like a zipper cover for a pillow, but it actually covers your whole mattress. You could get them on Amazon, on Target, but you need a bed bug protector for the mattress. You also need a similar protector for the box spring, like the one you bought. You should also be protecting the pillows too, they make bed bug and dust mite covers for pillows too. And then on top of that, they have powders and different chemicals you can use when you need to, to prevent them. It’s like a dust dia-something earth, but you put that dust under the bed, keeps them away. So there’s different things you can do to prevent bed bugs from coming. But if someone brings them, they bring them and that becomes costly if you have to deal with getting them out of there. So knowing what you know, you can A, choose to prevent, or B, choose to deal with the problem when it comes. And I think you should choose A, always.

Tim Casey:

I think you’re right. And again, if we want to give our listeners some practical action step, one is, Amazon is easy, plug to Amazon. If you go to Amazon and you just enter in the search, “bed bug covers for box springs,” it’ll come up, they’ve got some good brands there. And if you put a bed bug cover on your box spring, it’s not very attractive. So what I also did is just get some nice little covers, more decorative covers to put over the box springs as well, so it makes it look a little bit better. But I went ahead and got bedbug covers for box springs, for mattresses, for pillows, did that throughout the house. I’d already taken out the carpet and replaced it with wood look tiles. That gave me a peace of mind. But every owner should just think about where can bed bugs create that infestation and how can I reduce the risk by doing some not so easy and not too cheap, but certainly cheaper than having to get rid of bed bugs, practices early on?

John Candelario:

Right. Like fire drills, it’s getting acquainted with what you need to do, if it is going to happen. I’ll tell you a story, Tim. We had a homeowner lay and he had this happen to him. A guest sent him over November, basically sent them pictures of real bites. No one wants to see bites, but they looked like big red welts. And they even sent a picture of one of the bugs and the bed bug actually looked pretty fat. And you know when they feed on human blood, they get fatter.

Tim Casey:

Disgusting.

John Candelario:

Yeah, it’s gross. But once you see it, you know it’s real, you know it’s there. So he had to move the guests, which cost him that revenue. He had to refund all their money, get them moved. And then he had to go through the expensive remediation process with the pest control company. He had to take all the linen out of there, replace carpets. And then he had to shut down his listing for about five weeks until he had that clean bill of health from his pest control company that there were no bed bugs in there. It was this totally long process that he did not prepare for, but it actually spooked him so much that he sold the house, right, because he didn’t want it to happen again. So he’s no longer a vacation homeowner.

But this situation, while you might think you’re going to have a great record year, this one situation of getting bedbugs can derail any hopes that you’ll have of a good, healthy return on the vacation rental. So if you want to take care of your business, I really recommend preventing these little guys from getting into your vacation rental.

Tim Casey:

And I guess one more thing, John, we can suggest to all of our listener owners is, once again, we’ve talked about this in previous podcasts, make sure your cleaning crew is laundering the sheet and the towels correctly. Because the heat from washing correctly and drying correctly will help to mitigate the issue as well. Proper cleaning and proper laundering makes a big difference. A whole world of difference.

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