Leeds horror house: Rat infested home leaves students sleep deprived
The tenants of a rat infested student let in Leeds say they are considering moving home after months of living in a house of horror.
Emily Creaser, a student at Leeds Beckett University, moved into a five bedroom student let on Rider Road in Woodhouse in July.
She was left horrified after finding the property infested with rats and claims the house had not been cleaned on their arrival.
Emily said: "We were all very excited about moving in as it was our first house together as friends.
"As we got in, we realised that the house had not been cleaned. There was rat poison in the top two rooms, carpets ripped up, the kitchen was a mess and the toilets had poo in.
"The showers were mouldy, the smell was awful, the light bulbs didn't work, there were holes in the wall and mattresses were five years old."
The tenants reported the rat infestation to their letting agents, LetLeeds, on arrival to the property. LetLeeds called in pest control who first attended the property on July 9, 'rat-proofing' the house by leaving traps and cementing any holes.
Despite this, the rats were reported again in September and November and Emily says cementing over holes has simply moved the rats to other areas in the house.
Emily added: "There's rat chewed holes all across the house from the attic to the basement and we can hear the rats when we sleep, they wake us up in the night making us late for university in the morning and scared to get out of bed.
"They’re mostly in the kitchen where we put food, which is really unsanitary. As students we shouldn’t have to be dealing with this extra stress and we shouldn’t feel alone in this situation.
"Me and my other housemates are considering moving back home as we are really not comfortable living in this house and living conditions."
Letting agents LetLeeds could not comment on the cleaning of the property on the tenants' arrival but say they are "sure it will have had a clean."
The company's managing director, Luke Gidney, said the rat infestation of Hyde Park and Woodhouse is affecting a large number of tenants, landlords and letting agents.
He says LetLeeds have a rigorous process once evidence of rats is reported by tenants, but that the issue across student areas needs "serious consideration".
Luke said: "We want to work with the council on this issue and suggest a £100 per head rat levy which owners pay towards the council.
"With a pot of money, the council would then have a budget to take proactive steps to sort rat problems and hit the issue properly."
LetLeeds report that, as of today, pest control are assured the rat issue has been eradicated and the tenants have been sent a Christmas card with vouchers for a meal out together.
A broken system?
Luke says the 52-week student tenancy system is "broken" and leaves letting agents with only 24 hours to check the property, clean it and conduct any repairs.
He added: "It is obvious that things will be missed and that tenants will feel upset on move in day if the property has not been maintained very well in the lead up to their tenancy start date.
"We do try and set expectations, we provide cleaners' details on check in, so that the tenants can recall any further cleaning requirements, and we advise tenants to check items and list any general maintenance requirements for us on our 24-hour maintenance reporting software.
"We will attend to any repairs within the first 14 days of the tenancy.
"But it is the system that is broken, and it’s the system that needs changing.
"52-week tenancies and 24-hour turn-arounds does create problems and anxiety for tenants. We need to look at how other cities deal with the student lettings cycle."
Luke suggested that following other student cities such as Manchester, where it is common to have a three to four week break between tenancies, would give landlords and letting agents more time to get properties up to scratch.
He added: "It’s frustrating that we spend a lot of time in June and July dealing with parents who are really annoyed. Sometimes we agree with them and totally empathise with what is going on.
"We really do care about our tenants and reputation. We have a good team and work hard to provide a good customer service.
“We know things don’t always go right so we have an air a grudge and formal complaints procedure which is operated under the Property Ombudsman. We take tenant safety really seriously and we’re in this for the long run, not just a fly-by letting agent who will later disappear.”