They turn up, mess up your bedlinen with blood stains, help themselves to food and then refuse to pay their bill. Read on to discover how to deal with these persistent unwanted guests.
The demographic of visitors changes in the Autumn, families turn up to optimistically put their youngsters in to the University (10,000 freshers makes a lot of parent visitors!), the well-off retired are out making the most of the fine weather/no families combination that September has to offer and the contractors are back to start work until the next break at Christmas.
My energies have, however, been diverted with a different type of visitor, my first professional experience with bed bugs. I got the call from a guest whose children exhibited the classic itchy red bites on shoulders and faces. I am a parent and have been a pet owner so have run the gauntlet of fleas and headlice in the past but these critters are on a whole new level.
The bed bug has the ability to evolve over 3 generations to resist whatever pesticide is thrown at them, so if you don"t get the lot within 3 generations you have to start over. They can live for 18 months without feeding and migrate towards warmth and Carbon Dioxide to feast. They live in upholstery, beds, crevices around carpet and even behind plug sockets. You have no doubt been bitten at the cinema, on the train or in a hotel somewhere, but we don"t like to broadcast this valuable information. The itchy red bites typically show up on shoulders and face so if you think you have had mozzie bites while on holiday you may well have been mistaken.
Your hoover is your best friend with these little lovelies but also your worst enemy. You can vacuum them out of every nook and cranny, clear the area and spray with insecticide, only to discover a few weeks or months later that they have been lying dormant in your hoover bag or filter and are ready to infest again as soon as a blood-carrying host is nearby.
Clearing the diary of bookings is not an option as hosts are required during treatment to encourage any remaining eggs to hatch. Fortunately my treatment plan promises to kill on emergence (only extreme heat can kill the eggs!) so my guests should be safe from attack.
Treatment consists of the above mentioned vacuuming and spraying, steam cleaning the beds and carpets and, if your infestation repeats, a second or third treatment with different insecticides as they may have become resistant to the first attempt. There are firms that come and turn your apartment into a sealed up sauna to kill them with heat but they may still live on in the fabric of your building.
My cleaners stoically persevere hoovering the apartment to within an inch of its life each time, our skills at checking for traces have been honed like a landlord scrutinising a spreadsheet for lost ££££ and, thankfully, they seem to be gone. We will remain vigilant and are definitely instigating a bed bug protocol from now on.
This is one of many interruptions to business faced in short term letting. The whole timeframe is concertina-ed down so that emergencies have to be dealt with on the day. There is no waiting until Monday for a tradesman in this game. To achieve this it is essential to delegate daily tasks and to have someone on-call to sort out issues as they arise.
Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.