Published: 18:04, 06 October 2020
| Updated: 18:06, 06 October 2020
A single mum who found a rat sitting in her toilet three months ago says she is still waiting for the council to help banish the vermin.
The Dover tenant, whose identity is being protected, first contacted East Kent Housing about the rodent issue in July.
Some 85 days and nights later her family of three children, including a son who has autism and ADHD, are still enduring cramped living conditions.
They’ve had to close off rooms and have suffered disturbed sleep from scratching noises.
She told KentOnline : "This is an invasion of my home.
"I am paying rent for an overcrowded inhabitable home and today my daughter is absent from school due to being kept awake since 2am with the rat scratching.
"We remain cramped up. We remain sleep deprived. We are exhausted but I am at work because I can't afford not to be. I feel completely let down by their negligence."
She awoke on July 13 to use the toilet only to find the new inhabitant sitting in the pan.
She said: "It was like heart failure.
"I closed the door and called Mears at 8am and they sent someone out but by the time they got here at 2pm the rat had gone."
Mears is the housing management service responsible for the maintenance of Dover District Council's [DDC] homes.
She says the inspector noted rat droppings in the back garden and identified that the down pipe was likely to have been its point of entry.
Drain specialists were then drawn in but they couldn't identify a blockage.
With no follow up action arranged, the woman contacted the company again two weeks later.
She said: "I could hear the rat scratching in the loft above my daughter's bedroom. I contacted East Kent Housing and they said an inspector would be in touch but I didn't hear anything.
"Throughout August, every night, it would keep my daughter awake. It's not pleasant."
As a result of more chasing, an inspector visited the property again on August 25 and on this occasion the woman claims he witnessed the scratching noise.
'By this point I was in tears. My boys had to sleep in my bed and I was on the sofa'
The repairs were listed as "urgent and warranted" in and email but again, she says, there was no follow up.
The woman said she also contacted the housing company on September 1 with another visit from an inspector on September 17.
A final straw was on September 30 when her two sons came in from school to find their bedroom had become the latest target by the rat.
Faeces covered part of the floor and the carpet had been scratched.
She said: "It didn't smell nice. I couldn't let them stay in their room so I said for them to get the things they could and get out."
The following day was the day in which Canterbury, Folkestone and Hythe, Dover and Thanet authorities took back control of East Kent Housing.
Following the discovery of systemic failings in 2019 , the move brings the day-to-day running of their properties in-house, with 70 new jobs created as a result.
She said: "I raised a complaint via DDC with environmental health but all I got was that it was 'change over day'.
"By this point I was in tears. My boys had to sleep in my bed and I was on the sofa. I didn't get much sleep.
"My boy with ADHD is prone to getting angry and him not having his own space I fear is going to sink him into a depression."
'I feel completely let down by their negligence'
At the weekend, she says she felt forced to stay with a family member.
She said: "Everyone in the house is unsettled and suffering from sleep deprivation."
She fears for the loss of personal belongings stored in her loft such as her children's memory boxes, christening gowns and new Christmas decorations bought only last year.
"It's all going to be ruined," she said.
A spokesman for Dover District Council said: "We do understand the concerns of this family and the need to address issues such as this speedily.
"As soon as we received the complaint last Friday, we arranged for a maintenance inspector to visit the property, who immediately raised an order for pest control experts to visit the site and for contractors to block any areas where rats may be getting in.
"We are working to ensure that the contractor is on site as soon as possible and that the work is completed properly.
"We are aware of damage to both the building and contents and will investigate how the matter has been handled between July and 1 October."