'We've got rats the size of cats'By Caroline Cook
February 24, 2012
Rats ‘the size of kittens’ have been plaguing families living at a Winnersh housing estate and tenants say they have been forced to arm themselves with a pellet gun.
People living in Rainbow Park called in pest control after hearing scratching in their lofts, however their housing association initially refused to pay the bill for removing the pests.
Some also resorted to shooting the rodents.
Kim King, 43, who has lived on the estate for 16 years, said: “My nine-year-old daughter thought she heard them scratching last night and thought we had mice.
“I’ve got pest control out today and they said there are rats in my loft.
“It’s quite scary – we all had to sleep downstairs and my son went out because of it.
“There’s no way we are going to live in a house with rats.”
Widower Ms King, who lives with her children aged 18, 16, and nine, contacted Sanctuary Housing Association, which runs the properties, but was told the matter would have to be dealt with by the tenants.
She said: “I’ve had to borrow £125 plus VAT off my elderly parents to pay for this.
“The housing association just said to go back to them when pest control have been.
“I’ve never had an issue like this before. I was up at half twelve at night bleaching and cleaning.”
Neighbour Sue Togwell said her garden has been infested.
The 57-year-old said: “They are quite big, we are talking about the size of a kitten. Some of them are even bigger.
“My husband bought a pellet gun and we have been shooting them ourselves.
“The association has said it’s down to us, it’s not their responsibility.”
Mrs Togwell, who lives with her husband and 21-year-old son, said it is not the first time the site has been over-run with rats.
She said: “We were in the garden with my grandchildren and noticed them running across the garden.
“My grandson is three and he picks up balls and things that get into the garden.
“We can’t leave anything out because the rats’ urine causes infections.”
Mrs Togwell said she also feared the situation would get worse if people cannot afford to pay for the rats to be removed.
She said: “A lot of people don’t work due to ill health or different things and they cannot do it.
“It’s just going to get 10 times worse.”
A spokesman for Sanctuary said tenants had been told to speak to the housing association again after the pest control firm had been if there were any issues.
He added the association does not cover the cost of pest control because the properties are rented and not social housing.
However, after being contacted by The Wokingham Times, the association offered to foot the bill for removing the pests.
Ruth Vienot, regional housing service manager for Sanctuary, said: “As landlord of the property, we would only normally get involved if vermin are accessing homes because of something structural that we can put right.
“However, on this occasion we will pay for a visit by pest control and if they identify something of this nature, we will be happy to rectify it.
“We carry out regular weekly litter picks and would advise all tenants to ensure their rubbish is not left somewhere that vermin can get to it which helps minimise any potential problems with vermin.”