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For rent: council flat complete with rats

July 28, 2010 6:37 PM
In Brentwood Gazette
Vicky Davies

Cllr Vicky Davies lobbied the council on behalf of Mrs Blowers

TWO rat-infested council houses are still being allocated to tenants, despite warnings from residents and councillors.

Pensioner Helen Blower, of Harewood Road, Pilgrims Hatch, discovered rats were nesting in her loft, but claims Brentwood Borough Council failed to resolve the situation for six weeks, even though she suffers from a life-threatening illness.

She said: "I could hear noises when I went to bed ever since I moved in last May but I just thought it was the next-door neighbours because they had two teenage sons.

"It wasn't until they moved out two months ago and the noises continued that I realised it was something in the loft.

"At the same time, my face cloths kept disappearing, I thought I was going mad. I bought some to replace them and this time put one on the kitchen drainer and left it there at night.

"The next thing I heard was a thud, I was too scared to go in there so I waited till the morning and my friend's husband came and had a look.

"There were also yellow stains around the water cooler in the kitchen.

"I found a hole in the shower base and again got friends to look at it. When they took it up, they found a huge rat under it and loads of face cloths and toilet rolls."

Mrs Blower then contacted Brentwood Borough Council, which told her it didn't deal with pest control.

She said: "It was more the attitude than the fact they couldn't help. I was made to feel neurotic.

"My condition is worsened by stress and weakening of my immune system could be fatal.

"Eventually they sent round Pest Busters, a contractor, on account of my medical condition. He went up in the loft and put some bait down.

"He came back a week later and said because only half of the bait had gone that meant there weren't many of them and they had gone."

After weeks of frustration, Mrs Blower called in Rentokil, which carried out a free assessment, resulting in a damning report on the property and the adjoining property.

Mrs Blower contacted Lib Dem councillor Vicky Davies, who has since helped lobby the council for action.

Mrs Davies said: "It is a basic fundamental requirement for council tenants to be entitled to free pest control. It is an absolute disgrace. My concern is the health and welfare of these tenants.

"This is a 1960s complex, which needs radically redeveloping. It's time it was brought up to the conditions people should expect in the 21st century.

"That anybody should be expected to live in properties with vermin infestation is appalling.

"We have managed to get Mrs Blower rehoused on grounds of her medical condition, but we have since learnt that the property is now being readvertised on the council letting site."

A spokesman from Brentwood Borough Council responded by saying: "Mrs Blower first reported a problem with rodents to the council in early June 2010.

"Over the six weeks since she first reported the incident, the council arranged for two separate treatments of the loft space to ensure the vermin were eradicated, which was successful.

"Mrs Blower was moved out of the property temporarily whilst the work was being done. Due to her medical circumstances, she was already registered for a transfer to another property better suited to her particular needs. Co-incidentally a suitable property became available whilst she was in temporary accommodation, so she moved straight into her new property.

"Whilst the property at Harewood Road is vacant we are arranging a full clean out of the loft space before it is let to a new tenant."