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Rat infestation row drags on for nine months

By Ed McConnell

A mum-of-five who found her disabled toddler holding a dead rat up by its tail says she's been battling to get the issue fixed for nine months.

But the company which manages Lydia Pearce’s Chatham home says it's been trying to access the property to address the infestation and has been refused entry.

The Melbourne Road terrace has been overrun by vermin and the problem is so bad two-year-old Tiarnah cannot leave her pushchair, which is the seventh bought in four months after rats and mice gnawed at the others.

Lydia Pearce, Ashley Jones and Tiarnah, two, at the family home
Lydia Pearce, Ashley Jones and Tiarnah, two, at the family home

Partner Ashley Jones says he hoovers daily but wakes up to find dozens of droppings littering the floor.

Rats have also chewed through the couple’s bed.

They are locked in a war of words with the property manager about who is to blame for the issue.

But Charles Lucas Property Management boss, Justin Godden, says he'll allow the family to stay even though they've failed to pay the full rent for 18 months.

Traps surrounded by droppings at the property
Traps surrounded by droppings at the property

He said: “Food and rubbish is left everywhere and that’s made the problem worse.

"We’ve been trying to access the property for over a year.

“I don’t know why she won’t let us in. Rent arrears might have something to do with it.

"The council is helping her sort that out and I’m happy for them to stay.

A dead rat found inside Lydia Pearce’s home in Chatham
A dead rat found inside Lydia Pearce’s home in Chatham

"We manage homes for vulnerable people and don’t want to make them leave but I’m worried there will still be an issue.”

Medway Council’s environmental health team was eventually able to gain access to the property in April at which point a pest control notice was served.

The council has since returned with Mr Godden to begin addressing the issue, with decking already ripped up and measures taken to fix a broken communal drain which may be the cause of the problem.

Mr Jones, 28, and Ms Pearce, 36, both suffer from depression and say they have been left at "rock bottom".

A rat-gnawed baby pushchair
A rat-gnawed baby pushchair

She said: “My daughter can’t live like this.

“I’m terrified she’s going to be taken away from me.

“If I could find a new house I’d be out of the front door in a flash.”

Medway Council's head of strategic housing, Mark Breathwick, said: “We understand the family have been served an eviction notice on their privately-rented property and we will be helping them secure alternative accommodation.

"We are committed to helping Medway's most vulnerable residents."

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