A mother and her three young children were forced out of their home on Monday after she disturbed a rat while hoovering under the sofa.
Gemma Montgomery and her boys, aged two, three and nine, were lucky enough in that a family friend who lives right across Glenabbey Square was off on her holidays on the same day and thus able to provide ad hoc emergency accommodation.
But it was a traumatic experience.
“I came across the rat,” explained Gemma. “I pulled the sofa out to hoover under the sofa after leaving one of the wee boys to school and it ran. I just grabbed the wains and ran out the front.”
But one of her boys who saw the creature is now afraid to go back home while Gemma has health concerns.
“He won’t go near the house at all. And there are health concerns because they are still sucking dodos and all.”
She said there’s now a strong odour of rat urine in the house.
“You’ld smell it stronger today than anything in the kitchen.
“My neighbours came in with brushes then to get it into the kitchen and then it ran in behind the washing machine and it ran in there behind the cupboard and there are rats droppings there now, in behind the cupboards.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Elisha McCallion said it’s a recurrent problem off the Skeoge Road where there are a number of ongoing developments and that whilst pest control within housing is strictly the tenant’s responsibility, landlords could do more.
“Every time they disrupt the ground there has been an issue, not just with Gemma but with some of the neighbours in and around here there are rats, which is quite common when you are disturbing ground on a new build obviously.
“A few times I’ve tried to put a bit of pressure on to Fold and Apex who are both landlords who are building on both sides and say, ‘Look, there has to be some form of responsibility here when they are disturbing the ground.’
“Pest control is now the responsibility of the tenant, which in a general sense people would accept but when there are issues like this, major rebuilds with that sort of upheaval, they need to take some responsibility.”
Gemma said she was a Fold tenant and had been in touch about the issue but when the Journal contacted Fold Group HQ the paper was advised they hadn’t received any complaints.
A spokesperson for Fold headquarters in Belfast said:“The key message here is that this is a development is in a rural area and we have no idea where the rats are when foundations are being putting in. Things like this can happen.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Apex said: “Apex has almost 300 homes at Fernabbey, Ferndale and Glendale which abound its new Clon Elagh development currently under construction off the Skeoge Link.
“The works have been underway for over a year and to date we have not received any complaints from our tenants about rats in this area”
But a young mother at the end of her tether wants concerted action to ensure the rats problem is dealt with.
“I just feel like they are turning a blind eye and they could do more to help.
“My friend, she went on holidays, otherwise I would have had nowhere to go. She’s home at the weekend so I don’t no where I’m going to go at the weekend.”