St Albans family’s rat infestation nightmare

Alessio Bortone, Laura-Jane Silverman and Phoebe Bortone in the kitchen of their house on Holywell H

Alessio Bortone, Laura-Jane Silverman and Phoebe Bortone in the kitchen of their house on Holywell Hill which has been infested by rats - Credit: Archant

A FAMILY which spends every night barricaded in their bedroom to escape rats that have overrun their home say the district council has failed in helping them to get rid of the rodents.

Laura-Jane Silverman and her husband Alessio Bortone have spent all their savings trying to exterminate rats from their property in Holywell Hill after they claim a pest-control firm working on behalf of St Albans district council failed to get to the bottom of the infestation.

The couple, who have a two-year-old daughter Phoebe and are expecting another baby in September, first discovered signs of rats when they moved into their home last summer.

Mrs Silverman, 32, said: “When we first moved in the vendors were very nice and it was very smooth running but after the first few weeks we heard scratching and we thought maybe it was just a mouse.

“We came back from our holiday a few weeks later and the whole place was infested by rats. There were droppings in my daughter’s cot, in my bed and all over the kitchen. It was horrid.”

After reporting the infestation to the council, which provides a free pest-control service to private residential properties, they sent in a contractor who put down bait and told them there was only one rat.

But their worst fears were confirmed when the rodents returned and they were forced to pay for a private company who removed bagfuls of dead rats and faeces.

Most Read

The expectant mum said: “The rats were back and they had come into the first floor and bitten through all the electrics in the kitchen. The guy from the private firm said we were a tiny step away from having a fire because they had gone through the wires.”

While the family temporarily moved out fearing for their health, they are now back home but are having to cook by candlelight as they have no money left to repair the damage.

They have also recently been horrified to learn their property has been treated by the council’s contractors for rat infestation a dozen times over the past 14 years.

Mrs Silverman, who experienced a rat the size of a computer keyboard run across her bed while she was asleep, said: “My main grievance is with the council, I think they should do more. The solution that they have just does not work.

“We are at the end of our tether, we cannot cope with much more.”

According to the council they will help tackle outbreaks of rats but it is the owner’s responsibility to protect their property against reinfestation and to deal with the underlying cause.

Mike Lovelady, head of legal, democratic and regulatory services at the council, said: “We are aware of the situation in this case, and are working with our contractor to help deal with this issue.

“We can understand the resident’s concern and are making every effort to provide the resident with helpful advice and support.”