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Company refused to move pensioner from infested home for five months
An 85-year-old Otley woman has been moved out of her home so it can be cleared of rats – five months after the problem started.
Hilda Stewart has been plagued by an infestation since last November, when she reported it after noticing a stench in the bedroom of her sheltered bungalow on the Whitely Croft estate.
The smell turned out to be coming from dead rats under the floorboards. A number of animals were removed and pest control contractors paid several visits, but the problem persisted. It became so bad Mrs Stewart, who had asked to be temporarily rehoused but was refused, grew too scared to sleep at home and started staying with a neighbour.
Last week West North West Homes, which manages Leeds City Council-owned properties, finally arranged for alternative accommodation to be provided so the rodents’ entry points could be found and sealed.
But Mrs Stewart, who is disabled following a fall last year, is furious it has taken so long.
Speaking from her neighbour, Mary Hehir’s home, she said: “I am more than relieved they’ve finally started to do something, but I don’t think they’ve behaved properly at all. It’s made me poorly, has this.
“They only said they were going to really do something after I contacted Otley Action For Older People last week.
“Before that they’d told me they couldn’t move me, and I was ‘lucky to have a roof over my head’ – what’s lucky about living with rats?”
A spokeswoman for West North West Homes said: “We have been working with a specialist pest control contractor who has undertaken work in November, 2011 and February, 2012 at Mrs Stewart’s property.
“We are very sorry we have not yet resolved the situation for her. We are confident she will soon be back in her home and will work with her and her family to ensure all her needs are addressed, including a deep clean of the property before she returns.”