Disabled man claims his house is being eaten by rats

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Grimsby: Alleyway infested with rats after rampant fly-tipping

A disabled man claims his house is being eaten by rats. Michael Rutherford, 57, said the gnawing rodents are chomping through his furniture, clothes, shoes and kitchen. Mr Rutherford, from Grimsby, said he realised his house was infested with the rats at the beginning of September when he woke up in bed to see a rat running across it. He told Grimsby Live: “I heard something and I switched the light on and a rat ran across my bed. I realised they’d been everywhere in my house and they’ve chewed everything to bits.

“I’ve got nothing left – just a sofa and a mattress on the floor in my bedroom. I can hear them at night chewing. I’ve not slept or eaten and I’ve got nowhere else to go.”

Michael, who suffered a stroke in 2019, said he contacted his housing provider, Sanctuary Housing, to alert them to the situation, and a pest control worker was subsequently sent to the property. But because he has a dog, rat poison was left only in his garden and not inside the house.

He said: “He came back a week later and this time he left the poison inside my house. But while he was away, they were biting through my doors so I made a trap for them.

“Where they’d been biting through my doors, I put a load of putty there because I didn’t know where they were coming from,”

Michael said one morning he woke up and noticed the putty led to a hole underneath his kitchen sink.

When the pest control man returned for the second time, he alerted him to where the creatures appeared to be coming from.

He said: “I said to him, ‘They’re coming from under there, mate’, and he said he couldn’t get down there. They’ve done nothing for me.

“I said they couldn’t leave poison in my house and he did, and then he told me he couldn’t get down to where the rats were coming from, so I asked him to leave politely because he hadn’t done anything.”

Mr Rutherford claims pest control then visited the house for a third time and found a “massive hole” in his kitchen wall and laid rat poison at the back of his cupboards – but Michael said it has made no difference.

A spokesperson for Sanctuary Housing told Grimsby Live that workers will be visiting the property again this week and are “committed” to supporting Michael.

The distressed tenant said that before he goes to sleep at night, he is forced to tie his bathroom door to his front room door with a scarf to ensure the rats don’t bring in the poison to a place where his elderly dog could get to it.

He said: “My dog is 14 and he’s my life. If anything happened to him I’d be devastated, I don’t know what I’d do.”

An appointment has been made for November 10 for Sanctuary Housing workers to visit his home to dismantle his kitchen and fill in the holes where the rats are coming from – and then put the same kitchen units back, despite them “smelling of rat urine”.

Michael said: “I haven’t eaten in that kitchen for weeks now. All I do in the kitchen is cook my dog’s chicken in a slow-cooker and make a cup of tea. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I feel like I’m going to have a breakdown, and they’re telling me they’re going to come back on November 10 to dismantle my kitchen, fill some holes in and put the same kitchen back together.

“That kitchen has been in here for 32 years and they should fit me a new kitchen, I’m due one.

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“That kitchen is falling to bits, it smells like rat urine and is full of holes. And November 10 is too far away. I’ve rung about eight times and told them I’m going to have a breakdown, that I want to move out of the property – but I’ve got nowhere to go. It’s madness.”

The recovering alcoholic said the situation is making him feel like drinking again – despite him being seven years sober.

He said: “I’m scared that it’s going to make me drink again. The weight I’ve lost is unbelievable.”

A spokesperson for Sanctuary Housing said the association is in “regular contact” with Michael and are “committed” to working with him to ensure the issue is resolved.

They told Grimsby Live: “We are in regular contact with Mr Rutherford and last month employed a pest control contractor to investigate this issue and offer him support.

“The contractor carried out a follow-up visit on Friday 21 October, will be visiting again this week and we remain committed to working with Mr Rutherford and our contractor to ensure this issue is resolved.”

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