An estate in Manchester that is “riddled” with rats caused a young family to flee their home.
The Limeside estate in Greater Manchester has become a breeding ground for rats, leaving residents in a state of despair. One family in particular was forced to abandon their infested home, leaving behind their belongings and enduring weeks of uncertainty and discomfort.
Terene Shaw, a 41-year-old mother, moved into a new property on Third Avenue with her two children last October. Little did she know her dream of a fresh start would turn into a nightmare.
The house was full of problems from the start – 15 holes in the kitchen walls, dangling plug sockets, and an infestation of rats.
The situation quickly took a toll on Terene’s family’s health. They woke up to bite marks from bugs and had to contend with the constant presence of rodents scurrying through the walls.
To make matters worse, a sewer pipe at the back of the property collapsed, exacerbating their already dire living conditions.
In March, the family had no choice but to flee their home due to the rat infestation. They sought refuge in hotels, spending more than 12 weeks away from their own beds. The constant uncertainty and need to extend their stays at short notice added to their distress.
Terene expressed her frustration with Onward Homes, her housing provider, stating she received little support during this ordeal. The impact on her physical and mental health was severe. Her epilepsy worsened due to the stress, and she developed osteoarthrosis after falling while fleeing from a rat.
She said: “I told my housing officer I didn’t want to be in Limeside anymore. But that’s where all our family and support are. My mum lives down there, she’s 70.
“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.”
The family’s belongings were also casualties of the infestation. Almost everything had to be thrown away due to the mess caused by the rodents. Clothes, toys, and even a sentimental three-piece suite were lost forever.
Terene says doctors suggested dirty water at her property following the collapsed sewer pipe caused 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.
She said: “I was livid because it was all my belongings. Me and my family were distraught.”
Although Onward Homes offered £300 as compensation, Terene is now fighting to recover the money spent on food and transportation during their hotel stays. While she has found a new home, the financial burden remains.
Terene’s story is not an isolated incident. Other residents on the Limeside estate have also encountered rat problems in recent years. One resident had to replace her electric cooker after it was chewed through by a rodent. Another spent £700 attempting to tackle the issue in her home, but the problem persisted.
One resident said: “The whole estate is riddled with rats. I had a rat at the bottom of my bin that wouldn’t get out.”
The prevalence of rats on the estate has become a cause for concern among residents. Some have resorted to using high-frequency sound devices to deter the rodents from their gardens, while others have found rats inside their lofts. The situation has become so dire that children have been seen playing with rats in the area.
Eighth Avenue resident Pat Heywood said: “I was sat in the garden and one just appeared. Then another rat was in the kitchen… I was a bit hysterical really.”
Onward Homes acknowledges the length of time it took to resolve Terene’s issues and expresses regret for the disruption caused. They have reimbursed her for out-of-pocket expenses and provided replacement furnishings for her new home. The housing provider has also formed a team of specialists to address the wider pest control issues on the estate.
They added: “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.”
Oldham Council, too, is aware of the rat infestation problem and has taken steps to combat it. They have created new officer roles dedicated to pest control and offer free services to residents who own their homes or live in private rented accommodation. The council urges residents to dispose of waste properly and takes action against those who engage in fly-tipping.
Councillor 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.”
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