'We had to flee home taken over by rats that run in and out of holes in walls'

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'We had to flee home taken over by rats that run in and out of holes in walls'

A furious mother has spoken of her disgust after her home - provided through her council - became overrun with rats and insects.

The rodents had scurried in and out of at least 15 holes in Terene Shaw's house in Oldham, Greater Manchester, days after she and her two children had moved in. Both Megan, ten, and seven-year-old Joseph woke to bites on their skin, believed to have been from bugs, so Terene demanded housing association Onward Homes they move accommodation.

Instead, the family stayed at a Premier Inn and then a Travelodge, but text message records with a hotel booking system used by Onward Homes shows the family frequently had to extend their stays at short notice - and prepare to move around Greater Manchester. Their stays in hotels lasted at least three months.

'We had to flee home taken over by rats that run in and out of holes in walls' eideziqkeiqhhinvTerene Shaw, pictured with Megan and Joseph, suffered after rats invaded her old home (MEN Media)

Onward Homes found the family a smaller home, by which time Terene had lost almost all her family's belongings and her health - both physical and mental - had plummeted, reports Manchester Evening News. The 41-year-old said: "I don't feel like I got any support from Onward Homes. The way I feel regarding this, I don't recommend them to anybody. I was livid because it was all my belongings. Me and my family were distraught."

Other residents at the same block as Terene was in also say the accommodation is "riddled" with rats. One woman, who asked not to be named, said: "I've had to go and buy a new cooker. I'm hoping and praying that they (the rats) don't come back and chew through this one... The whole estate is riddled with rats. I had a rat at the bottom of my bin that wouldn't get out."

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'We had to flee home taken over by rats that run in and out of holes in walls'There was also a large hole in the kitchen wall of the previous address in Oldham, Greater Manchester (MEN Media)

Simon Heywood, another resident, said some rats managed to make their way inside his loft. "We've had a few," he said. "Our cat has brought god knows how many round, varying from little ones, to nine or 10 inches long."

Terene, meanwhile, says her epilepsy had become more of a problem due to the stress of her housing situation, while her osteoarthrosis was triggered after she fell over running down the street while visiting the house in April, when she says a rat came scurrying into her path. Her children, who had gone from walking to school to requiring buses across Oldham and Tameside, Greater Manchester, also suffered.

Terene says medics also suggested that dirty water at her property following a collapsed sewer pipe led to her suffering inflammation in her stomach, for which she now receives medication to help her to eat. While the ordeal took place, Terene says she lost more than five stone in weight.

Shane Crompton, a carer who works with Terene's family, was heartbroken to see the toll events took on the a woman he has known for around 20 years. "It was hard for me," he said. "I'm used to Terene being happy and bubbly, having fun. For me, the joy was totally ripped out from her."

'We had to flee home taken over by rats that run in and out of holes in walls'Terene is in a battle to recover money from Onward Homes after her plight living in this accommodation in Oldham (Manchester Evening News)

The family were offered £300 after complaining about the ordeal but have since been battling to recover the money they spent on food and bus travel while living in hotels. Terene is now "comfortable" in her new home while she says her children are happy, but she says she has had to contact her MP as she urges Onward Homes to finally reimburse her for the significant costs.

A spokesperson for Onward Homes, Terene's social landlord, said: “We sincerely regret the length of time taken to resolve the issues at Ms Shaw’s former home but are pleased that the family is now settled in a new home. We appreciate that this has been a difficult and distressing experience for our customer and we have apologised for this.

“We provided hotel accommodation to offer the family respite while we carried out the necessary repairs. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts we were not always able to find hotel accommodation that included food at the hotel.

"Our Neighbourhood Team has worked closely with Ms Shaw and her family throughout and we regret the disruption and distress caused. We have already agreed to reimburse all out-of-pocket expenses resulting from Ms Shaw’s stay in temporary accommodation and provided replacement furnishings and new white goods for her new home.

"We have also contacted Ms Shaw to discuss further goodwill payments. We recognise that there have been wider issues with pest control in the Limeside area.

"We have established a team of specialists to address this, so we can sort the issue out once and for all. We will be in touch with any other affected residents individually to provide tailored support.”

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'We had to flee home taken over by rats that run in and out of holes in walls'The rear of the property was a state following the collapsed pipe (MEN Media)
'We had to flee home taken over by rats that run in and out of holes in walls'A smashed window in the front of the address is pictured

Oldham Council confirmed it was contacted by Terene on April 18 regarding a collapsed drain and a rat infestation. She was referred to the council’s Tenancy Relations Service and given contact details for the Housing Ombudsman.

On the issue of rats in the wider area, Coun Chris Goodwin, cabinet member for neighbourhoods on Oldham Council, said: “In 2021 the council launched Don’t Trash Oldham because we know clean neighbourhoods are important to residents. Our staff are out working seven days a week to help keep all parts of Oldham tidy and in the last two years the campaign has been a great success and has helped improve communities across the borough.

“Unfortunately, over the last few years councils across the country have experienced an increase in call outs to deal with pests, a lot involving rats. We’ve recently created four new officer roles to help tackle the issue and we offer a free pest control service to residents who own their own homes, and those living in private rented accommodation.

“To help stop the spread of infestations, we urge people to make sure they are doing their bit by disposing of their waste properly. We also take action against those who fly-tip and dump rubbish as we know it attracts vermin - since we started Don’t Trash Oldham more than 600 people have been fined for environmental crimes.”

Stephen Topping

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