Published: 00:01, 09 November 2018
| Updated: 09:12, 09 November 2018
A colony of rats are "reigning supreme" on a housing estate as they infest sofas, bathrooms and children's bedrooms.
Fed-up council tenants, who fear diseases carried by the rodents are putting their health at risk, say the invasion of vermin in Thanington has reached an unprecedented level.
Their calls for Canterbury City Council to take action initially fell on deaf ears, with the authority telling them they had to tackle the issue themselves.
But now, because of the severity of the case, pest control has been called in by the council for a one-off blitz.
Mum-of-three Carolyn Miles, one of the tenants affected by the rats, says her quality of life has been turned upside down.
"They get absolutely everywhere in the house and loads of us have them," she said.
"You can hear them scuttling around and clawing away - they are really big.
"It really is a nightmare and they are around at all times of the day."
Mrs Miles, who believes about 95% of the estate is suffering with the vermin, has even bought a cat and hopes to convert it into a rat killer.
"It's only a young cat at the moment but hopefully it can catch some of them soon.
"I'm scared my children will get weil's disease, as you can get it from rat wee.
"I've got no idea where the rats are weeing so you don't know where isn't safe in the house, one even got in the tumble dryer - it's really worrying and our lives are in danger.
"My daughter goes to bed and comes out screaming as they are in the bedroom.
"There is a horrible stench in the house and they've chewed the carpet - we've had enough."
It is believed the problem has been exacerbated by the start of construction work on the nearby 1,150-home Cockering Farm development, with the rats escaping from fields and heading onto the Thanington estate.
The rat infestations are not isolated to just one street but are instead widespread across many roads.
Emma Hirst, a fellow council tenant with rat problems, said: "I was cooking and a rat ran along the kitchen floor. It's disgusting. There are rat tunnels everywhere and they've destroyed piping."
Paula Spencer, manager of Thanington Resource Centre, added: "Many families on the estate have come to us for help over the last few months because of the rat problem.
"They have told us horrendous stories which do not belong in a civilised first-world country."
Before the council decided to step in, charity team Christians Against Poverty offered to help with payments for a pest controller.
Disappointed ward councillor Nick Eden-Green (Lib Dem) wanted the authority to take action sooner and has expressed his anger at the council's slow response.
"I'm surprised the council did not taken action immediately - damage is being done to the properties and it's dreadful for the families," he said.
"I do welcome the news that a pest controller will be going but I'm afraid a one-off visit will probably not be enough.
"This isn't the residents' fault and the council has been allowing it to happen.
"The rats are better organised and still, sadly, reign supreme."
Council spokesman Rob Davies said: "Dealing with a rat problem would usually be a matter for the individual tenant to resolve using a pest control company. However, we are aware that this has been an issue for a while and may have been exacerbated by recent development work in the area.
"On this occasion we are going to arrange for a pest control company to visit two homes in Thanington as a one-off, and also inspect and block up any holes where the rats may be entering these properties. We are confident this will resolve the issue."