RIPPED carpet, soaring anxiety and maggots coming through the ceiling.
These are just a trio of woes Boyd Phipps claims to have faced since he discovered rats at his Hilsea home.
The 57-year-old father-of-two, of Horsea Road, said he was first alerted to the vermin when the smell of rat urine seeped through his bathroom ceiling just over a month ago.
But the rodents have allegedly wreaked havoc since – gnawing on his bedroom carpet, chewing through his kitchen ceiling and even scurrying across his bed while he tries to sleep.
Despite three visits from Portsmouth City Council (PCC), Mr Phipps says pest controllers ‘have done nothing’ and has sought desperate measures to get away from the problem.
‘This all started in the bathroom, but when a rat ran across my bed I drew the line. It’s disgusting,’ said Mr Phipps.
‘When that happened I booked a week at the Best Western in Southsea straight away, which was £455.
‘I’m now paying an extra £100-a-week on top of that to rent a room round the corner because I don’t want to be here.’
Although they laid a trap at the back of his garden, poison in his loft, on his canvas roof and above his kitchen spotlights, Mr Phipps says PCC pest controllers have failed him.
‘If you were to ask me what I’d rather – winning the lottery or having this problem sorted – I’d say having this sorted,’ he said.
‘I just want to be able to live in my house again. I worked with drains for years and we were all warned about Weil’s Disease, which rats pass on through urine.’
He added: ‘I don’t know if it’s because of this problem or the worry of it, but we’ve been having stomach aches for weeks.’
While not as severely, two of Mr Phipps' three immediate neighbours said they have also seen rats in their house.
One, who works in commercial waste disposal and wishes to remain anonymous, said they ‘feel bad’ for Mr Phipps – who lives with his 54-year-old wife Diane and 26-year-old daughter.
Addressing Mr Phipps’ criticism, Richard Lee, regulatory services manager at PCC, said three visits is ‘standard practice’ for pest controllers – with a fourth to the property pencilled in for September 20.
He said: ‘On our first visit we placed two external bait stations at the rear of the property. On the second visit we treated the loft and the pitched and flat roofs at the back of the property where we'd be advised that they'd heard rats within roof spaces. On our third visit Mr Phipps wife said that they hadn't seen or heard any rats for four or five days so we believed that the problem was resolved but we treated the areas again as is our standard practice. A fourth appointment has however been scheduled for September 20.
‘We haven't heard from Mr Phipps directly to advise that there is still an issue and we hadn't been aware to date of any issues in the house, only in the loft and roof areas. Mr Phipps did contact his ward councillor, Cllr Jonas, and following this we tried to contact him to discuss the issue but our call wasn't returned. We can look to bring the September 20 appointment forward if Mr Phipps contacts us to advise that he is still experiencing problems. Our aim is always to resolve these problems as quickly as possible and ensure that customers are happy with the service.
‘If a council tenant contacts their housing office or the city help desk to advise of pest problems then the council's pest controllers would be booked in. We can work with housing if problems are discovered that are enabling pests to access that property. However, tenants are under no obligation to use our services and can appoint another pest controller.’