A WOMAN who has been living with rats and mice has told of the effects sharing her home with rodents has had on her mental and physical health.

Maggie Leslie, of St Leger Court, Accrington, took her housing provider, Onward Homes, to court over the issue.

The 51-year-old said she suffered panic attacks and was forced to remove carpets in her flat due to allergies, made worse by the rats and mice.

And she believes they are invading her home through holes in the walls, which Onward Homes have yet to repair.

The mother-of-one said: “I suffer from anxiety at the thought of coming home and seeing rats and mice when going to sleep. I’m anxious about being in the kitchen when cooking in case I see one, and I no longer have the desire to make my home homely.

“I had panic attacks after seeing dead rats, and seeing mice running over my bed.

“It’s causing me so much stress which has affected my fibromyalgia, and my eyes constantly itch and are very dry.

“I have no carpets other than in my front room, and my floors are concrete, creating a lot of dust, which has massive effects on my breathing, especially at night.”

She took Onward Homes to court over the problem and, despite coming to an out-of-court settlement with no admission as to liability, she said the issue has not been resolved.

She said: “I’m embarrassed to invite people round. I’ve pushed friends away rather than explain the situation and I used to have my grandchildren stay but can’t now.

“On one occasion my grandson was sat watching TV and a rat ran past him. When I took them to court they made no personal settlement to me.

“Youths hang around outside too and constantly drop litter and takeaway packets on the floor which is bound to make the problem worse. Some of them set a bin on fire outside a neighbour’s front door, leaving her trapped in her home.

“There’s a lot of vulnerable and older people on this estate. I work with adults with complex needs daily so I know about the duty of care housing associations are supposed to have, especially to vulnerable adults.”

An Onward Homes spokesman said: “Onward agreed an out-of-court settlement with Ms Leslie in December in relation to this problem, with no admission to liability, and has also taken steps to carry out remedial work to the flat.

“Repairs to the exterior of the flat have been completed, and we are currently trying to arrange access to complete the remaining work inside.

“We will continue to try and arrange access and would ask Ms Leslie to speak to the neighbourhood team who will be happy to arrange a convenient appointment to complete this work. We have no previous recorded incidents of youth nuisance at St Leger Court but we are working closely with residents and police to take every step possible to try and ensure an incident like this does not happen again.

“We will also seek to meet with the local councillors, MP and residents to discuss all their issues and concerns.

“All our residents have the right to feel safe in their own homes and Onward will not tolerate intimidation or anti-social behaviour against our communities.”