Company finds potential link between bed bugs and New York Airbnb locations

NEW YORK — Old apartment buildings — unlike hotels — are often not made for short term stays, particularly when it comes to bed bugs crawling from one wood framed apartment to the next.

You can imagine this problem might intensify in buildings where tenants are illegally renting out their units for short term rentals.

Getting to the bottom of this situation isn’t easy.

Many AirBnb hosts are rent stabilized tenants. They don’t want to talk about bed bugs, or AirBnb out of fear they’ll be evicted.

Enter Ari Teman, co-founder of Subletspy.com.

The company’s research team began looking at AirBnb complaints from its landlord clients and bed bug complaints filed by city residents to the 311 line.

“At the very least, where you find AirBnb in a building, you find the neighbors and the other tenants complaining about bed bugs,” said Teman.

Subletspy.com found with a sample of 100 buildings across New York City between January of 2014 through this July, that 89 percent of those buildings had at least one documented bed bug 311 complaint around the time of an AirBnb rental.

Is this a coincidence? Or does AirBnb have a bed bug problem?

AirBnB spokesman Peter Schottenfels called out the study.

“This irresponsible and inaccurate ‘study’ was written by someone who profits by attacking middle class AirBnb hosts," Schottenfels said. "This report is not based on actual addresses of AirBnb listings, relying instead on misleading data and false assumptions, and therefore cannot in anyway determine if host addresses match those on the City's website. Whenever a guest has an issue, of any kind, our global customer experience and trust and safety teams work to address them immediately.”