Bed bug infestations have increased in number and caused problems at hotels across the world in recent years, with both budget and luxury establishments affected. Infestations can lead to the shutting off of whole blocks of hotel rooms, costing operators significant amounts at peak times of year. Increased global travel and the bed bug’s stronger resistance to pesticides are commonly cited as reasons for the startling rise in bed bug infestations at hotels.
Bed bugs are highly resilient parasites and can survive extreme temperatures, making infestations difficult and expensive to deal with. They are also hardy travellers and can easily stow away in clothing or luggage, spreading infestations quickly from one location to another. Many hotel guests are dismayed to find that they have inadvertently transported bed bugs home with them, and that their home is now infested with the insects.
Anyone renting out a home, apartment or living quarters in the UK has a duty to make sure that it is reasonably clean and safe to live in, and this means that both the homeowner and Airbnb may be held responsible for a guest being bitten by bed bugs. A bed bug infestation should mean that an Airbnb property is viewed as an unsafe living space, unavailable for rent and in the process of being cleaned. However, numerous Airbnb guests have been bitten by bed bugs over the years, and many have gone on to successfully claim compensation.
For a claim against Airbnb to succeed, it will be necessary to show that the homeowner was aware or should have been aware of a bed bug infestation, but failed to take reasonable steps to make sure it was dealt with, while allowing the property to continue to be rented out to guests in the meantime. Airbnb has a list of exceptions from the company’s standard insurance cover, and one of them is bed bugs, yet the company still has a legal duty to prevent hosts from renting out their homes in an unsafe condition for guests.
Complaints of bed bug bites from previous guests can be important in proving that the homeowner and Airbnb had prior knowledge of an infestation but failed to eradicate it. When a home, apartment or living space is rented out on Airbnb it should be in a safe and sanitary state and clean from pest infestations such as bed bugs. Each case is different, but when an Airbnb host and property owner is responsible for a guest being bitten by bed bugs, Airbnb can be held liable by extension and obliged to pay compensation to the injured party.
Mr L was staying at a London hotel while on a business trip, where he was severely bitten all over his body by bed bugs. Though his hotel room appeared generally clean, he did observe that the carpet appeared not to have been recently vacuumed. Mr L noticed about 20 bites on his body the following morning, and more continued to erupt throughout the day, causing severe itching, inflammation and swelling.
Fearing that he had suffered an allergic reaction, he saw a doctor, who informed him that the marks of his skin were bed bug bites, and prescribed him antihistamines to combat the symptoms. Mr L’s schedule of business meetings was badly disrupted, and he complained to the hotel’s manager, who apologised and said that their case management team would contact him once the room had been tested by pest control.
The day after returning home, Mr L received a call, confirming that the room had tested positive for bed bugs, and had been temporarily taken out of service. They also offered to refund his stay in full. By this point however, Mr L had been forced to spend a considerable amount of money on disinfecting both his own home, and the home of parents, where he often stayed.
Mr L subsequently instructed Bartletts Solicitors to begin a personal injury claim against the hotel, as he was dissatisfied by their response to the incident. This was a reasonably simple case to resolve, as the hotel fully admitted responsibility for Mr L’s bed bug bites, and the latter’s doctor confirmed the extent of the skin damage they had caused. We were able to negotiate a compensation settlement totalling £4,000, reflecting the liability of the hotel for the injury done to Mr L, and the financial expenses he had incurred as a result.
If you or your children have been bitten by bed bugs while staying at a hotel or Airbnb in the UK, contact Bartletts Solicitors for free legal advice and to claim compensation for the physical injury, associated mental trauma and financial repercussions. It is also possible to make a claim against a hotel overseas for bed bug bites, as long as your trip was booked with a British package holiday or tour operator. Before you report a hotel for bed bug bites or agree to a settlement, contact us. You may have a claim that is worth significantly more than the sum offered by the hotel.
Our firm has particular expertise in suing for bed bug bites, and has successfully represented hundreds of clients in these specialist claims over the years.