Family forced to live in tent after maggots and rats found in home
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
A mother and her seven children have been living in a tent in a garden after she found maggots and rats in their dream home.
Shari McKay, 36, and her children moved in to what was meant to be their forever dream home in Lowestoft five weeks ago.
Since then, she says they have had to put up with maggots, fleas and rats, and have now been forced to live in a tent at her mum's house.
Ms McKay was offered the home on Flensburgh Street by an East Suffolk Council housing officer as a private tenant, with support from the authority's private sector housing team.
East Suffolk Council has now deemed the property unsuitable for tenants, with the promise that Ms McKay and her children will be sheltered in temporary accommodation.
But the landlords, Lisa and Steve Davies, claim the property was in a good condition when it was let out to Ms McKay five weeks ago.
The whole experience has left the family "shattered and broken", Ms McKay said, especially her daughter Daisy, who has just recovered from leukaemia.
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Ms McKay said: "When I first got this property I thought my dream had come true.
"I have been living in and out of hospital for the past two years with Daisy, so getting our very own home like this was magical for us as a family."
However, a week after moving in to the property, the idea of their dream home soured.
The children began to get bitten by fleas, even though the family has no pets.
Ms McKay says she treated the floors to get rid of the fleas and let the landlords know.
She later discovered the bath was broken, so bought an inflatable paddling pool to bathe her children in.
Ms McKay says the family was pushed to the limit during one occasion.
She said: "One morning we woke up and there were two rats fighting in our kitchen.
"The landlord came round to lay rat poison instead of laying traps.
"My question to them then was 'how will they remove the decaying rats under my floorboard?'
"A few days later hundreds and hundreds of maggots were climbing through my door and then enough was enough.
"We were forced to camp in my mum's garden."
She says the experience has taken a huge emotional toll on Ms McKay and her children.
She said: "We are distraught. We are heartbroken. We've had to flee our home."
The landlords say they have dealt with all the issues Ms McKay experienced during her time in the property and said they felt sorry the relationship had broken down.
They said the property's previous tenants had been there "for years" and had a positive experience.
They also said the property was handed over in good condition and that, when asked, they fixed the problems raised.
A spokesperson for East Suffolk Council said: "We have been working actively with the tenant to address the issues they are facing with their private landlord and allocated an officer to offer advice and assistance.
"We have already, previously, offered the tenant temporary, council accommodation, however they decided to decline this offer, choosing their current arrangements instead.
"We are pleased to say that the tenant has now decided to accept our offer of temporary accommodation."
The spokesperson said after an inspection it was decided that the property was "not suitable for the tenant to return to".
“Our inspection uncovered a range of issues which indicated that the property is not in a reasonable condition to live in and we will now take steps to ensure that it is brought back to an appropriate standard," they said.
"East Suffolk Council has a range of legal powers at its disposal and we will require works to be completed within a set timescale.”
They added: "Further discussion with the tenant has led to them now choosing to move in to temporary accommodation and we will work closely with the private landlord to ensure that the issues which have been raised are now resolved."