A mum-of-one says she is at her wits end because of a mouse infestation at the flats where she lives in Cliftonville.
Millie Sparks and her four-month-old baby moved into a flat in Athelstan Road last June after a stop on Universal Credit payments -later reinstated- resulted in the loss of her previous home.
The 24-year-old, says the property has a number of flats with different landlords, meaning the condition of some homes are much poorer than others.
An issue with rubbish and food waste being dumped in a communal area of the building and flytipping outside is making the problem worse, says Millie.
She said: “ When I am in the living room and bathroom I can hear them n the ceiling, squeaking and rummaging around. I didn’t notice when I first moved in because I did a lot of work. There was a dead mouse by a socket that we changed but I didn’t think anything of it at the time.
“Then I thought I saw one on the worktop but wasn’t sure. I set up my baby cam in to catch it on there and it did.
“My landlord sent someone out and I have had th holes blocked up but they are still getting in. I have had pest control in and the first time they ate the bait but not the second. I have put traps down but they don’t go in them. I’ve had tracking powder put down and you can see they are still there. I don’t leave any food out or any rubbish, I don’t know what else to do.”
Millie, who suffers from a painful back condition following a trampolining accident several years ago, says on top of post natal anxiety she is now scared mice will get into her baby daughter’s room.
She added: “I keep panicking about it. I keep everything clean and I have asked for the people to stop putting rubbish in the hallway but it is still happening.”
Ward councillor Alan Currie says everything possible is being done to address the problem.
He said: “Her landlord is very good. Pest control and Environmental Health have been fully involved, letters have been sent to all residents in the block regarding the mouse problem and I have put up notices in three languages in the hallway and knocked next door to Millie asking them to keep the hallway swept, which they have done recently. “Everything possible is being done but it is a problem many large blocks have and not an easy one to eradicate.”
A Thanet District Council spokesperson said: “Pest control in a tenanted flat is primarily the responsibility of the occupiers. The landowner would only become involved if the issue was associated with something beyond the tenants’ responsibility, such as problems within communal areas or clear structural issues with the building.
“The council is not the freeholder of this property and has no duty to provide a pest control service. It has the responsibility for ensuring that landowners and landlords take relevant action to resolve infestations. We are in contact with the landowner and will continue to work with them on the issues reported.
“In this case, the council’s Environmental Health team has conducted numerous visits to the building to investigate the issues that have been raised. As part of this investigation, the team has written to all tenants on two occasions – requesting information in the first letter and giving general advice in the second. We have been unable to identify a specific party who is causing or adding to the issue. The council therefore cannot take any further action as there is no clear evidence.”
Athelstan Road Tenants and Residents’ Association
Matt Shoul, of Athelstan Road Tenants and Residents’ Association, says further action must be taken.
He said: “Despite all parties involved claiming that everything that can be done, has been done, the ongoing mouse infestation has categorically not been eradicated.
“All parties must continue to take further action on all fronts, until the mouse infestation has been properly and satisfactorily eradicated.
“Only seven out of almost 20 households bothered to respond to an English only questionnaire from Environmental Control, who are ostensibly unconcerned and unaware of the large number of non-English speaking households in the multi-landlord building. They have no idea which languages are spoken, or if households are even literate in their mother tongue and as they’re not statutorily obliged to research these essential facts for effective local authority communication with its constituents, no further action will be taken, despite ARTRA encouraging social services to undertake this essential research and asking for TDC officers from different departments to communicate and devise a multi-agency, coordinated actionable approach to this highly complex situation.”
Mr Shoul says issues of antisocial behaviour, over-occupancy, apparently truanting children and cigarette butts left in indoor communal areas are some of the issues that need tackling.
He added: “Without a coherent multi agency local authority approach to these multifarious difficulties, no satisfactory resolution to any single issue will occur.
“ARTRA acknowledges the concerted involvement and strenuous efforts of Cllr Alan Currie, to whom we are extremely grateful for his tenacity in this serious & complex situation. He has demonstrably gone above and beyond normal councillor action on this case. However, too many council departments. undertake the bare statutory minimum and regard their civic duty as accomplished.”
The council has negotiated a reduced rate for pest control services in Thanet. Visit www.thanet.gov.uk/pest-control-services for information.