17 Replies Latest reply: May 12, 2018 9:44 AM by margaret RSS

    Pest Control and Guests

    2barefeet Contributor

      We have our condos treated quarterly for pests and inspected for bed bugs more often than that. Tuesday night my guest emailed me and said she had seen a couple of roaches (even sent pics of dead bugs).  I emailed back and told her I would contact our pest control company. 


      The next morning pest control said they would be out be couldn't give specific time - no big deal they have door code.  I email guest and tell them they do not have to be there and that the company has treated our unit for years.  No response..... So I send pest control out before it becomes a bigger issue. The guest had emailed me 4-5 times prior to her stay so I knew she checked her email and assumed that was her preferred method of communication.


      Later that night I get an email blasting me for letting them spray (she didn't care that they were in there w/o her there but that she was now exposed to pesticides!)  She was exposed the minute she walked thru my door because they had sprayed a couple weeks earlier for our regular treatment...I digress. She stated she had just checked her email and saw my email from 12 hours earlier (she replied from an Iphone btw)...lol!


      I am not sure why she sent me 2 emails telling me if she didn't want me to treat - she never mentioned she had health issues.  It is in my contract that me or my reps can enter condo with advance notice. Hindsight,  I should have followed up on the email but logic tells me to take care of the problem since she brought it to my attention.


      I am planning on returning one nights rent (the night she stayed after the treatment) once my cleaning company gives me the all clear.  In 15 years of renting this is only the 2nd time we have had any issues.  The previous time I refunded one night for the night they found the pests.  They were thrilled to have it taken care of quickly and even more appreciative of the refund.

      I am expecting a bad review but with close to 60 4/5* reviews I'll just let it go.  I just wanted to know how other owners handle these issues??

        • Re: Pest Control and Guests
          margaret CommunityAmbassador

          You did your best to remedy the situation. I would have probably called to let them know in case they had money or valuables left out in the open. I understand you trust your pest control service but the guest may not trust them. 

          • Re: Pest Control and Guests
            ohst8er Premier Contributor

            Speaking from a subtropical rental location here....Whenever we have a guest in during a schedule spray we always let people know in advance.  If someone contacted us about bugs (it has not yet happened),   the first question I would ask them is the size of the bug.  If it is a large bug then there's no cause for alarm, regardless of how often your complex regularly sprays there's always a chance that there are bugs that will manage to "escape" the spray (and you mentioned these were dead bugs, which means the spray is doing it's job).  If the bugs are tiny, and there are many then that means there is an infestation and I'd be concerned and would call the property manager right away.  Single bugs happen, infestations are problems that are sometimes difficult to get under control. 


            Coackroaches/palmetto bugs are part and parcel to tropical/subtropical locations. In fact, anywhere where it does not get cold enough for insects to die off are going to have plenty of little critters to deal with.    Rather than joining in your guest's panic, just let them know that they regularly spray, that sometimes single bugs manage to avoid the spray, that there is no way to alleviate dead bugs after a spray but that the spray is indeed doing it's job, etc. Bedbugs though..?  I'd have ALL of your mattresses covered with bedbug proof covers. 


            Years ago we lived in a very old, 6 floor building on the Plaza in Kansas City.  LOVED that place.  Our kitchen butted against the elevator shaft.  One morning I was greeted by a very large cockroach in my kitchen.  I of course called the manager (cuz gasp, a bug?!) and she explained to me that they just sprayed, which means this guy/gal came up the elevator shaft to escape the spray.  She explained to me that if I see a  bunch of small ones, that's a serious problem and to call, but this one guy was just smart enough to escape.  Sure enough, a few hours later he was gone.  Literally like clockwork, 1st Monday of the month I'd encounter a lone cockroach in my kitchen.  So we had a deal.  I agreed to not kill him, and he agreed to not bring his friends. 

            • Re: Pest Control and Guests
              feibus Senior Contributor

              In my welcome document:

              A surprise for some of our guests from colder climates is the quantity and variety of bugs in Florida and bugs are especially active during the hot summer months. Our home is serviced regularly by a licensed exterminator. However, bugs can still just walk/fly in the front or back door if those are left open. Most bugs are harmless and the chemicals the exterminator sprays along the walls and under the sinks will often kill them after they enter the home. If you see a “live one”, just go ahead and try to kill it. Often, it’ll just run away and then run into the chemicals and die anyway. Seeing a “dead one” means the chemical did its job.

              Please don’t leave open food containers lying around to entice the bugs.


              More than that is a question for the cleaning crew or pre-arrival inspection if more than one roach is there on guest arrival.


              I don't refund unless the home is unusable.  In this case, the guest could have opened the windows for an hour or two and the smell would be gone.  But they're likely complainers, so they'll complain about that as well.


              Side note: I often want to tell guests that the bugs were there first... we're just visitors in their environment, not the other way around.

                • Re: Pest Control and Guests
                  2barefeet Contributor

                  feibus do you mind if I copy and use in my welcome packet?


                  Thank you all for your comments.  It makes me feel better that I did what I thought was right - even though I probably should have called first. 


                  She did see a 'few bugs' and some were alive.  I guess they ran faster than the dead one so that is the pic she sent...lol!  ohst8er you are probably right that the bugs were trying to escape since it had been treated recently.  We do have all our mattresses covered and have regular bed bug inspections.  Let's hope we never have to deal with that!


                  I only have regular treatments during vacant days and usually schedule those ahead of time so not to disrupt any guests.


                  I really appreciate the support and feedback on this community. This is not an easy business.

                    • Re: Pest Control and Guests
                      feibus Senior Contributor

                      I posted it so people could copy it and make it their own.


                      My pest control person comes when guests are there, it's a scheduled visit that happens for a whole bunch of homes in the same area on the same day, so I have no control over it.


                      In 6 years, no one has complained that the place got sprayed.

                  • Re: Pest Control and Guests
                    floridarob Active Contributor

                    We had an unusual situation once where a particular guest kept finding dead cockroaches over a few days.  They were most concerned that there were SO many cockroaches in the home.


                    After a bit of checking, what we were able to determine was happening was this:

                    Our quarterly pest control application, which only happens around the exterior perimeter of the home (they never go inside) had just occurred, and the application of the pesticide on the exterior of the home drove some of the little critters inside trying to get away from it! After this, we arranged for our service to go inside and put a tiny bit of bait laced with a healthy poison on the door hinges at the sink cabinets, but it probably wasn't necessary.


                    The three or four cockroaches the guest found expired shortly after their arrival and that was it. This has been an issue only twice in almost a decade with our Florida properties, so we're pretty confident that it is an unexpected consequence of the recent pesticide application. As a general rule, our guests never see bugs and we prefer it that way.


                    It just may be that the same thing is going on with your property. So how would I handle your situation?

                    Explain that the property is sprayed  on a regular schedule, and on the rare occasion it will drive a few bugs inside from outdoors. When they come inside, they cross the pesticide barrier surrounding the home and thus will usually be dead within 24 hours in any event.


                    Your situation is different from mine because you apparently have the interior of your condo sprayed, something which we never do with our houses.  Frankly, I too would be concerned about pesticide being sprayed in the interior of any residence I was staying in. Pesticide is bad for humans just like it is for bugs. I don't like relying on the fact that my size allows me to survive it while the bugs do not. You may try explaining to the guest that it is a standard procedure to spray the interior for pests, and has been done many times prior to her arrival. That likely won't help her feel any better unfortunately. If you can suggest to her that all Florida condos are treated in a similar manner, she won't feel worse about your place as opposed to any other. The only issue with that last point is I have no idea if that is actually the case or not.

                    • Re: Pest Control and Guests
                      bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                      We are constantly telling guests to close the doors or screen doors as they come and go, but rarely do they listen.  Thus, we tend to blame the guests for pests that enter the guesthouse.  During our walk-thru we ask them to please keep the doors or screen doors shut.  But since we drop by to service the pool and hot-tub we annoyingly find the doors left wide open.  We simply do not get it.  This is a ranch and we do have country critters, and no we do not spray with pesticides, due to the bird life around the houses.


                      I do like what feibus said that it is best to try and educate the traveler of how such things are dealt with.  Whether or not they will listen or read is another story.


                      I should also add that only once in 20+ years did we refund 50% due to bugs found inside the house. I asked them what they thought was fair and they said a 50% refund would be acceptable.  They were happy since they chose to cut their stay short. 

                        • Re: Pest Control and Guests
                          2barefeet Contributor

                          My guest stayed so I am now rethinking my refund.  One of my friends mentioned that if I refunded it seems to be admitting guilt - she is not a homeowner so that is what hit home.  I think sometimes we try to be too hospitable.  I am going to sleep on it another night and make sure they do not try chargeback.  My cleaning company said all was good upon check out and my pest control even mentioned that the condo was clean.  They also thought is was probably from the earlier treatment as someone mentioned. 


                          I did have a lawyer help me with my contract along with advice from the forum so I feel as though I am good legally. Like everyone here I just try to be the better host.  Although I will not host this family again even if I take a hit.

                        • Re: Pest Control and Guests
                          twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                          Diatomaceous earth.....you may want to read up on this product that is totally safe. You can sprinkle in the yard, in the window sills, under cupboards, etc. I sprinkled in my garage around the perimeter (inside) and then swept it a bit. I used to have spiders in the garage, not anymore. (at least none that I have seen). I also treat the outside perimeter with spray myself on the concrete footings to prevent termites.


                          There are some cautions with this though. Safe for humans to even eat the food grade, but is can be hazardous if it becomes air born to the lungs, as it can scar them. I wear a mask any time I am sweeping, etc.


                          It has so many benefits to health and the claims are that it even kills bed bugs???? Since I haven't had to experience that disaster I can attest to that, but I had ants coming in through the window at the VR and just put a little tiny bit at each end of the window where the weep holes are and they were suddenly GONE

                            • Re: Pest Control and Guests
                              jl11 Senior Contributor

                              I second Diatomaceous earth.


                              Also boric acid (or it's laundry equivalent Borax). Sprinkle near the cracks and crevices where bugs enter. A non-toxic way to keep the critters out. But it only works if guests keep doors and windows closed and don't leave food lying around. And it's great for keeping fleas and ticks at bay.


                              We have several pets in our house and yard and I prefer not to use toxic pesticides (personal choice). No problems with these two treatments. I also use these in our urban VR apartment and we've never had a pest problem. But our place isn't in the tropics, so it might not work for palmetto bugs and other big bugs.

                            • Re: Pest Control and Guests
                              Active Contributor

                              My condo in a high-rise also has quarterly pest control. I always let my guests know it's a service we pay for and it must be done so the unit remains pest-free. I tell them that it takes all of 15 seconds for the guy to squirt under the bathroom sink and the kitchen sink, there is no odor and he's out in a flash.


                              My housecleaner related this cute story about a senior couple who were guests at the time. She was waiting for the service guy to show up and was replacing a lightbulb. The wife was chatting her ear off. The husband was silent and sitting at the counter reading the newspaper. The door had been propped open, and when the service guy showed up, he announced, "Pest control."  Without looking up, the husband sitting at the counter pointed his thumb toward his wife and said, "There she is."

                              • Re: Pest Control and Guests
                                2barefeet Contributor

                                She left a 1 star review.  I am not even going to respond - I don't normally add responses since they all most 5 stars.  Hopefully future guests will see you can't please everyone.  Ironically the title is - NEEDS PEST CONTROL.  That was what she didn't want....it takes all kinds.

                                  • Re: Pest Control and Guests
                                    feibus Senior Contributor

                                    I'd respond to it as though I was talking to the next guest who was concerned by this guest's response to their stay.  Professional, upbeat, apologetic if that's where you need to go with it.  It's mostly for the next guest, never about responding to the current one.

                                    • Re: Pest Control and Guests
                                      floridarob Active Contributor

                                      Definitely respond, otherwise it looks like you are ignoring the issue. State that bugs likely resulted because of a pest control application, and let guests know how the property is cared for. Explain why this was a one-off situation unlikely to occur again.


                                      Hitting issues head on, in the correct manner, is always the best way to go.

                                      Thank the guest for staying with you, and invite her to book again so she can experience the property as it usually is. This expression of confidence in your product goes a long way to dispelling concern by future guests, and you always want to appear gracious to future renters.

                                      • Re: Pest Control and Guests
                                        margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                        I also think it is in your best interest to respond to this review. I would add to feibus and floridarob advice that once you write the review wait 24 hours and reread it before posting to be sure you frustration is not evident in you response.

                                      • Re: Pest Control and Guests
                                        heartinthesmokies Contributor

                                        I enjoyed what febus' RA reads and will add to mine.


                                        My RA reads:   Insects: These are the Smoky Mountains where unfortunately you will encounter a variety of insects inside and outside of the cabins and all cabins have them. Depending on the time of year, you may see large amounts of particular insects, locally referred to as "lady bug or stinkbug season”. We have a pest control service monthly and our cleaners keep the cabin very clean but insects can sneak in and collect between the time the cabin is cleaned and/or serviced and your arrival. Please use the vacuum cleaner  or dust pan/broom in the supply closet on the main floor for your convenience. In the spring you may see large amounts of carpenter bees aka bumblebees buzzing the cabins. They do not sting but are nosy pests who love to just stare at you. They won’t hurt you but can be a nuisance.


                                        This is on my RA and then added to my Welcome Letter which is sent out a week before Check-in with an UPDATE on the type of pest for that season. 


                                        Making them aware is 85% of the fight.


                                        Best of Luck