Northampton flat tenant wants local authority to fix "NIGHTMARE" bed bug infestation
"I have had to take medication because I can't sleep at night"
A 37-year-old woman who lives in a Northampton flat infested with bed bugs has slammed the property managers for not fixing the issue, saying the lack of action is a "money-saving exercise".
The woman, who wishes not to be named, has lived in St Marks House, in Herbert Street, for four years and says she is on the verge of moving out due to the issue, which has lasted for six months so far. The block of flats are run by Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH).
Bedbugs are small insects that feed on blood from humans or animals. They can live in your bed, furniture, carpet, clothing, and other belongings. They’re most active at night, feeding on people while they sleep, according to health professionals.
Healthline.com says: "Bedbugs can be one to seven millimeters long. They’re flat, oval-shaped, and reddish-brown in color. They don’t have wings, so they rely on animals or humans to carry them from one place to another.
"Although bedbug bites are rarely dangerous, they can be very itchy. In some cases, they become infected or cause an allergic reaction. If you suspect there are bedbugs living in your home, it’s important to get rid of them."
The woman said she has tried to get rid of the insects herself but nothing has worked, and the problem is even causing issues for others in the block.
She said: "It is a nightmare. Whatever we use does not work. I know three other people in the block who have the same issue as well. I've lived here for four years and never had this issue until now. I don't have any pets, I would understand if I did have them.
"They (NPH) are saying I should pay it because I am on benefits, but I can't afford to because I have other bills to pay - the bills are never ending.
"I have had to take medication because I can't sleep at night. I can't sleep in my bed or I will sleep on the sofa. I don't mind but I would like to sleep in my own bed. If this is what it takes [going to the newspaper] to make NPH do something about it, then fine.
"I really don't know [how it began]. It started from upstairs. The man upstairs works and I imagine the bugs have worked their way around the flats."
The woman, who has bi-polar, said she has received a private quote of £500 to fumigate her flat, but because she only gets £600 a month in benefits there is no way she can afford to pay for the fix herself.
She said: "I think what NPH needs to do is fumigate the whole block of flats, that would get the problem sorted, then it's job done.
"NPH is using Covid as an excuse to not come out and do the job, too. They also say they don't deal with pest control. I think this is a money-saving exercise for NPH.
"I just don't understand why NPH keep telling me no - I pay my rent on time. At the end of the day, I'm unable to pay out this sort of money, it should be down to them. Maybe this story is the kick up the backside NPH needs.
"I just want to live in a clean home."
NPH responded by outlining that the tenancy agreements, stated on its website, says it is the responsibility of residents to pay for pest control.
Nicky McKenzie, NPH's assistant director for housing, said: “Resolving issues with bed bugs and other pests is the resident’s responsibility, as outlined in our tenancy agreements and on our website. We aren’t aware of the issue affecting other residents in the block, and our team has spoken with this resident on a number of occasions to advise on pest control.”
On NPH's website it says: "In limited circumstances we offer a free pest control service, delivered by an approved contractor. This service is only available where the pest problem affects a shared communal area for properties such as flats, bedsits and maisonettes.
"We do not provide a pest control service to tenants that live in houses or where the pest problem is confined to an individual flat, bedsit or maisonette."