A MUM who is petrified of rodents says her home has been plagued with rats and mice for seven years and is too frightened to get out of bed at night.
Mum-of-three Laura Clout has been living with the pests since she moved into her house in Hardstown, Chatham, seven years ago in June 2015.
The 37-year-old is so scared of the creatures that she refuses to leave her bed at night, even for the toilet, causing her to contract a urinary tract infection.
The extent of the infestation got so bad that it derailed their Christmas in 2016 when they were forced to stay in her bedroom to open gifts.
Ms Clout said: “I live in a three-storey townhouse and when we moved in seven years ago the property was never finished properly.
“There are no solid foundations and holes everywhere. Because of this, mice, and now rats, have been able to enter my home.
“Orbit Housing, who own the house, are meant to help and support me but they’re not sticking to their word.”
A landlord has the responsibility of ensuring a home is “fit for human habitation,” according to Citizens Advice.
This includes if it is infested with pests such as rats or cockroaches, although you must inform them of the problem.
It’s a good idea to get an Environmental Health Officer to come and inspect the property so you have proof of the problem.
Ms Clout heard scuttling on her first night at the house. At the time she was eight months pregnant with her youngest daughter.
Over the first couple of months Ms Clout started spotting mouse droppings in the kitchen and lounge area.
Things kept getting worse when Ms Clout found massive holes in the external wall under her kitchen cupboard.
A baby monitor managed to capture mice coming in and out through these holes.
She decided to ring Orbit to voice her concerns but was met with little help.
She said: “Nothing was done by Orbit, I was told I was liable to sort mice.”
The mum-of-three has spent hundreds on mouse traps and pest control.
She said: “It doesn’t matter what I do. The holes around the property mean they just keep getting inside.
“I’m petrified of mice so this is the worst possible thing to happen to me.
“There have been times when I’ve been stuck on the worktop unable to move when I’ve seen one.”
She added: “I have spent so much money on replacing furniture and trying my very best to get rid of them. I was excessively disinfecting my home daily, to protect my three young children.
“It was distressing for my children as they were scared of the mice but at the same time upset that we had to kill them.”
Ms Clout, who works two jobs as a dinner lady and cleaner, is desperate to move house, despite thinking the property would be her forever home.
She said: “I can’t lie to people, so when they ask me why I want to move I explain the situation.
“It’s no surprise that no one else wants to move in.”
Ms Clout often sees the mice emerging from underneath her fridge and running across her bedroom floor.
She has even had no internet at times due to mice eating through the cables.
Food and shelter are the two main things that attract mice and rats into a house.
Even if Ms Clout makes sure her food waste is disposed of properly, the rodents will still try and find somewhere warm to live, particularly during the winter.
She claims that Orbit have not returned her calls or offered her support.
She said: “The few times I have been able to speak to Orbit they’ve offered to pay for Rent a Kill.
“But it isn’t about the money I just want the problem sorted. Mice just walk into my property like it is nothing.”
She added: “It has taken years of me chasing Orbit for a response or help, with a majority of calls or emails not returned.
“I have had to follow the complaints procedures that never have an ending, being on hold in a queue for 30 minutes at a time for them to cut you off and you have to start again.”
The extent of the infestation got so bad that it derailed their Christmas in 2016.
Ms Clout said: “Christmas 2016 we couldn’t go downstairs due to the amount of mice and had to open presents in my bedroom.
“We couldn’t cook and had to go stay with family and hope the traps, bait and sticky pads would do their job whilst we were away.”
With Christmas quickly approaching the family doesn’t want history to repeat itself.
Ms Clout and her family are not the only ones effected by the problem.
She said: “It is not just me who has been struggling for seven years to control the mice infestation. It is also six of my neighbours and the two lots of flats either side of our houses too.
“The main issue is the structure and foundations of the properties. I’m not having trouble in eradicating the mice, the problem is Orbit Housing not coming out to then proof the house once I’ve eradicated the mice to stop anymore being able to come in.”
The housing association has said that they have been in touch with Ms Clout.
A spokesperson for Orbit said: “We are taking Ms Clout’s concerns seriously.
“Our pest control contractors have visited the property on numerous occasions but, unfortunately, it is taking longer than we would like to find a solution to the issue.
“Our contractors last visited the property on Tuesday, November 29, and Ms Clout has been offered compensation for the delays and inconvenience caused whilst we continue to work to resolve the issues that she’s experiencing.”
Ms Clout said: “Orbit did offer me £220 compensation for the delays and inconvenience. I was advised by the housing ombudsman to accept but make clear this isn’t the final resolution nor a final payment.
“I was told by Orbit I’d receive the £220 compensation on November 25 and I am still yet to receive it, despite contacting them to let them know I have yet to receive it.
“They’ve offered me pennies for the last seven years of mouse infestation.
“Myself and Orbit are now going into mediation through the housing ombudsman.”
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