The father of a young Carnmoney woman whose house is infested with rats says his daughter is stuck in “a living nightmare.”
The man, who didn’t want to be named, explained how his 25-year-old daughter lives at the property in Fairview Parade with her fiancee.
He said that all was going well until last summer when they noticed a strange smell coming from the roofspace and a swarm of flies in the house.
When they lifted the floorboards to investigate, they found a dead rat and evidence of a serious infestation – a thick layer of rat droppings and the stale stench of the rodents’ urine.
The couple have turned to Environmental Health officers and pest control experts for help, spending hundreds of pounds on efforts to tackle the problem.
But despite repeated attempts to rid the property of rats, the couple regularly hear the rodents scurrying around the wall cavities and through the voids between the upstairs floors and downstairs ceilings.
“The problem is non-stop,” the girl’s father told the Times. “At one point we were catching two and three a day. Some of them are quite small, young rats, but some of them are an enormous size - 10 inches long and bigger. I’m from a farming background and I’ve never seen rats like this – they are absolutely massive.”
He said that his daughter has started to develop health problems, unable to sleep and suffering from severe headaches.
“I just want them to have a good start to their married life, but that won’t happen unless we can get this sorted,” he added.
The man says a pest control expert advised them that the rats are coming into the house from the main sewer under the street. And he has called on NI Water to take action to stop the rats from entering the property.
“No matter what we do we can’t seem to stem the flow of them. We have six or seven traps and two live traps down in the house, but it’s no use. We need to stop them getting in.
“We need Northern Ireland Water to put a gating system on the sewer at the end of the driveway to stop the flow of rats coming into the house.
“We’re at our wits end. We have done everything we can, but they just keep coming and coming.
“If we can stop them from coming in then we can get the place back in order and they can get their lives back to normal.”
While NI Water engineers did come out and look at the sewerage system, they advised the couple that the problem lay with a hole in a pipe under their driveway. The hole has since been covered with wire and concrete, but the problem persists.
Councillor Fraser Agnew, who has been trying to help the couple, says NI Water need to “face up to their responsibilities and give an account of themselves.”
“This isn’t a problem that can’t be solved, but it will take some action from NI Water to resolve it,” he commented.
A spokesperson for NI Water said that its survey, carried out in June, revealed that its infrastructure is “in sound structural condition”, adding that concerns were raised with the property owner about a private section of drainage.
“In light of continuing concerns NI Water will re-examine the site and discuss the survey findings with the owners,” she added.
The spokesperson denied suggestions that NI Water has decreased its sewer baiting activity in recent years and stressed that it does have “facilities and mechanisms in place” to deal with baiting requests.