Terrified residents living in a "nightmare" housing block have compared their lives to a "horror movie" after gigantic rats started to plague their homes in Hertfordshire.
Neighbours in Bevan House Borehamwood have been left to endure "Victorian-like" conditions following a rodent infestation that has caused an unbearable stench that is so bad it smells of "death".
Residents living in the flat block, which is under the UK's largest housing association, Clarion Housing Group, say they have been left with severe mental health issues since their homes became riddled with rats.
Zoe Steele, 46, who lives with her daughter Sadie, 26, suffers from heart failure and claims that they are unable to use the kitchen because it smells of "rotting animals that makes your eyes water".
"The past few months have been hell," said Zoe. "The smell of death in my flat is potent and makes me feel sick every day.
"I have to stay downstairs because I cannot access upstairs due to health conditions, I am currently on the floor on sofa cushions and I cannot sleep through fear.
"I've never felt so depressed and anxious and sometimes I feel like giving up.
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"The rats are chewing through my doors and leaving droppings next to where I sleep.
"I'm on extreme quantities of blood-thinning medication due to heart failure and I feel so desperate to get out of this flat for my safety."
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She added: "My kitchen door remains closed now. I cannot cook, eat, or even wash.
"I've been left in this situation with no help, the rats have taken over the whole of Bevan House and it's like a scene from a horror movie with blood splattered over the properties."
Her neighbour Lauren Butler, who lives with her autistic daughter Millie, says her 11-year-old had a panic attack after she saw a rat sprint across their kitchen.
Lauren has lived in the property for twelve years and said she first alerted Clarion in August after she saw a rat "poking its head out" in the kitchen and heard noises in her bedroom.
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Describing the moment that her daughter had a panic attack, she said: "On September 10, there was a rat running around my living room and not only that it was bleeding and blood was going everywhere in my flat.
"I automatically screamed and the rat ran into my kitchen behind the washing machine. My daughter is autistic and didn't handle this situation well.
"I had to remove her from the flat and take her to my mums as she was having a panic attack."
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She added: "My dad came and removed my kickboards and the smell got more unbearable!
"Underneath my oven was a dead rat with its insides all leaked out.
"By my washing machine was the rat that was running about my living room and was clearly dying."
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Lauren said she has called Clarion Housing every day and had to move to her mum's house because "the smell wasn't shifting".
She added: "On September 17, I noticed fleas in my flat that the rats had brought in – they were jumping all over my carpet. I was mortified.
"Clarion have zero remorse and continue to tell me they are going to call me back. On September 19, I had to hire pest control to come out, they found another dead rat with its insides leaked out behind my tumble dryer with maggots all over it."
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David Williams, who lives a few doors down from Lauren, said the infestation has started to take a toll on all aspects of his life.
The lecturer believes that the issues all started after a nearby pub shut down and was boarded up around two years ago.
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"I have had a rat flying about my kitchen when I came down the stairs on Monday [ September 20 ] morning.
"I woke up the Tuesday morning and again, went downstairs and found a large dead brown rat dead on the kitchen floor."
He added: "You can imagine when I am meant to be concentrating on delivering lessons to apprentices, all I can think about are rats running around my flat."
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Dave, who used to be a professional boxer, described his situation as "totally exhausting" and said he is struggling to balance the infestation with helping young people at his local gym.
Local councillor Dan Ozarow recently visited the housing block with fellow councillor Rebecca Challice.
He said: "The situation that these residents face with this rat infestation is shocking.
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"No one should have to live in daily fear in their own home in twenty-first century Britain."
"We observed holes and entry points all around the external walls of the building and in the garden. It is therefore Clarion’s duty to find an urgent solution to end their nightmare."
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He has since called out Clarion Housing after he saw a letter addressed to residents which stated that residents are "responsible" for dealing with the infestation.
"To effectively blame tenants in the letter they sent them is to shirk responsibility," he said.
"We stand with the residents and admire their courage in standing up for themselves."
Clarion Housing Group have been contacted for comment.
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