Horrified student moves out of her mouldy rented house after finding rats drowning in her toilet
- Kent Uni student Elle Silvester, 20, left £4,200-a-month rented house due to rats
- Her and housemates saw rat in toilet but agent said there was ‘no rodent activity’
A horrified student and her housemates were forced to move out of their mouldy rented house after they found rats drowning in the toilet.
Elle Silvester, 20, and her housemates found the rodents stuck below the waterline in the toilet bowl two mornings in a row – and saw them constantly scurrying around the kitchen at their £4,200-a-month home in Canterbury, Kent.
The rat invasion added to a list of problems for the University of Kent students, which included mould, dripping taps and a broken washing machine.
And after finding the rats in December the students finally moved out on February 11 – but Miss Silvester expressed concern they may be still on the hook for rent for the whole length of the contract.
Miss Silvester moved into the house at the start of term in September last year along with six friends – and it was the first time she had lived off-campus.
Elle Silvester (pictured), 20, and her flatmates who go to the University of Kent, moved out of their rented home in Canterbury after they found mould and rats
The students found rats stuck below the waterline in the toilet bowl (pictured) two mornings in a row
And after finding the rats in December the students finally moved out of their rented home in Canterbury on February 11
Ms Silvester said: ‘One of our housemates woke up to find the ungodly sight of a rat in our shared girls’ toilet.
‘The rat, still alive, couldn’t get out of the toilet bowl and drowned. We reported it and disposed of it in a plastic bag in the bin.
‘The next morning, the same thing happened. Once again, it drowned and we updated the letting agents immediately.
‘We thought we were being paranoid, but the same night we saw a rat run across our kitchen and hide behind our fridge.’
Rats can hold their breath for three minutes and can navigate narrow pipes by collapsing their ribs. They are also able to tread water for three days.
The tenants alerted the letting agent that manages the property, Varsity Canterbury, who specialises in ‘exceptional quality student accommodation’.
They sent some traps but the housemates were unable to catch any rats and continued to hear them scurrying around the house.
Ms Silvester said: ‘To be told there was no rodent activity when we could clearly hear it was beyond frustrating.’
‘One of our housemates woke up to find the ungodly sight of a rat in our shared girls’ toilet,’ said University of Kent student Elle Silvester (pictured)
Miss Silvester and her flatmates found their student home brimming with mould, which they claim was caused by a leaky roof
The rats were not the only issue the housemates had to put up with.
Ms Silvester added: ‘So many problems arose which made living an absolute headache.
‘At first it was little problems like dripping taps, a broken washing machine and broken drawers.
‘Then the light went in the boys’ bathroom with no windows, which meant they had to use the flashlights on their phones if they wanted to be able to see.
‘Then we moved onto having mould. We’d clean it and it would come straight back no matter what we did.
‘The property manager told us “mould is an issue caused by high humidity”.
‘We’ve since found out that it was caused by a leak in the roof.’
The group contacted Varsity in November but according to the students nobody came to look at the extent of the mould.
Instead, they received an email from the property manager detailing how to clean mould and the reasons it appears.
They added that if the steps are followed ‘any mould issue should deteriorate over time’.
A subsequent health check on the house found that a hole in the roof had led to a leak causing the mould.
The 20-year-old student said: ‘Ultimately, the whole ordeal has been stressful and uncomfortable. We couldn’t bear the rats or mould anymore.
‘It’s affected our studies and it’s affected our social and personal lives.’
The rat horror was the breaking point for the tenants, who moved out on February 11 after commissioning an independent health inspection.
Checks carried out on February 6 and 14, found a leak in the roof, mould and fresh rodent droppings.
A report by the inspector, who was working on behalf of real estate consultants Hollis, also highlighted that planning permission had not been sought to ‘configure’ the property as a ‘seven-bedroom HMO’ (house of multiple occupancy).
A spokesman for Canterbury City Council said: ‘We are concerned to hear about the difficulties that the residents of this property have been having.
‘No complaints about its condition were made to us, so we were not aware of these issues until the report from the surveyor arrived in recent days.
‘As a result of that report coming in, an inspection visit by our private sector housing team has been arranged for later this week.
‘It is the responsibility of the property owner to seek permission if the use changes from a home to a house in multiple occupation.
‘Such a permission has not been sought for this property and we’ll be investigating this now we have been made aware of it.’
The students found a rat lying at the back of their fridge among the electronics
Elle Silvester (pictured) said: ‘Ultimately, the whole ordeal has been stressful and uncomfortable. We couldn’t bear the rats or mould anymore. It’s affected our studies and it’s affected our social and personal lives’
A spokesperson for Varsity Canterbury said: ‘We sympathise with any tenants who encounter problems during their tenancy and we’ll always work quickly to address issues reported to us on behalf of the landlord.
‘In this particular case, each time an issue has been reported, we’ve arranged for a relevant professional contractor to attend on the owners’ behalf – in some cases within hours of the report.
‘It’s not always possible for issues to be resolved immediately and often they require further appointments and also action from the tenants.
‘The tenants claim that the landlord doesn’t have the relevant permissions to let the property but the landlord claims otherwise and we understand he is currently in discussions with the council regarding this.’
They added that the property has an HMO licence and when the council visited in September it raised ‘only a couple of minor and routine repair recommendations which were completed by the landlord’.
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