Dad’s fury over abandoned rat-infested house next door that has been empty for 24 years

A furious homeowner says he and his family have been forced to live next to an abandoned, run-down, rat-infested house for more than 20 years and the council is doing nothing about it.

David Nicholls and his wife live in a terraced home in Abington, Northampton and the neighbouring property has been empty since the couple and their two children moved in in 1998.

The 59-year-old explained that the owner moved out the previous year and the house is now a serious health hazard.

The unsightly boarded-up property has a rat infestation, smashed-in windows, messy overgrown gardens and the squalid interior is piled high with boxes and bags.

David says it has become so run down that dozens of rats have now invaded the address and some neighbours have even moved out because of the problem.

He is now calling on West Northamptonshire Council to take enforcement action allowing them to take over the property and put it back into use as housing.

David said: “I moved into the house in 1998, the guy next door left in 1997 and up until a few years ago you would only see him once every five years or so.

“He’d spend a night there, light a bonfire and then he was off again, the house has just been abandoned and left to rot since then.

“All my neighbours have seen rats recently – we’ve been putting out traps for them. I’ve found loads of rat faeces in my loft.

“A couple of years back the council came out to put a new door on as it kept coming off its hinges, apart from that they have done absolutely nothing.

“I had fixed the door myself before that and was able to see inside, it is completely uninhabitable piled waist high with boxes and bags of who knows what.

“It is a health hazard and a fire hazard and that is why the local authority should now be able to do something about it. It has been a nightmare.

“There is no gas, electricity or water supply to the property and it is just crumbling. The garden is overgrown and I’ve known people move off the street because of it.

“It’s going to bring property prices down without a doubt and that is why I think people are moving out while they can.

“There have been rats beneath my floorboards and in the walls, my kitchen roof is covered in rat droppings all between the joists. Its unbelievable.

“There are children with families living on this road yet our pleas to the council keep falling on deaf ears.

“Although it is privately owned they have the power to take enforcement action whenever there is an environmental health issue or fire risk.

“I can’t see how a boarded up house with smashed in windows, with glass everywhere and rats scurrying about isn’t classed as a health risk. It is basically the perfect hotel for rats.

“My house is attached to this place and the worry has affected my wife’s health. Our two children grew up and moved out luckily as I wouldn’t want them living in this.

“I don’t know why it has taken this long. It’s a shame as it has the potential to be a really nice house.

“The council have a statutory duty to protect the public yet I’m living in these conditions through no fault of my own.

“I wouldn’t expect anyone to live next door to a house like this regardless of any situation. I just can’t understand how it has been allowed to continue for so long.”

David has repeatedly asked the council to issue an ’empty dwelling management order’,which gives local authorities the power to take over unoccupied homes and use them as housing.

The former engineer, who is now a full-time carer for his wife Jackie, 54, added: “What really annoys me is I have been reporting this property for years for being empty.

“The council knows the property is empty. They keep saying it is working with the owner but nothing is changing They have never enforced an empty dwelling management order so all that reporting was for nothing.

“The council should be looking to put the property back into normal use. You’re just waiting for them to do something and wondering when it will be.

“I have asked them when the property was last inspected and when the property was cleaned so it is not encouraging vermin but the council keep ignoring me.

“This has been going on forever. It’s been going on for so long that the place has become a local landmark.”

A West Northamptonshire Council spokesperson said: “The council continues to investigate, and progress action in line with the latest findings from the local government ombudsman.

“The council is not the owner of the property, and is not responsible for the property.

“West Northamptonshire Council confirms that where possible it will take enforcement action to secure improvements to the property and the neighbourhood when the law allows.”