Scotland

Pests in homes spark thousands of call-outs

rat Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rats caused some of the issues

Councils dealt with more than 61,000 cases of infestations in local authority homes in the last three years.

Figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats using Freedom of Information showed councils received 21,365 complaints about pest problems in 2018.

That was up from 17,567 the previous year.

Tenants complained about issues with pests including wasps, bats, beetles, cockroaches, slugs, mice and rats.

Others contacted the council because of problems with seagulls, squirrels, pigeons and foxes affecting their property.

'Completely unacceptable'

Liberal Democrat housing spokeswoman Caron Lindsay said the scale of the problem was "staggering".

She added: "It is completely unacceptable to house people in buildings that have cockroaches or other unhygienic infestations.

"Imagine how awful it must be to feel that you can't let your baby play on the floor in case they pick up mouse droppings or some other nasty.

"Every person deserves a clean and comfortable home. Poor quality housing can take a huge toll on people's mental and physical health. If the SNP hadn't been slashing local authority budgets for years they would be better placed to provide that.

"The Scottish government should use these statistics as yet another reason to get on with building more social housing and ensuring councils have the resources to fix poor housing before it falls into disrepair."

Elena Whitham, for the local government body Cosla, said councils spend "a significant sum every year" maintaining about 314,000 homes in urban and rural areas across the country.

Image copyright Mari Buckley/Geograph
Image caption Tenants complained of problems with seagulls

She said: "Every home in Scotland will experience unwanted guests/pests on occasion.

"All local authorities will seek to remedy any issues arising from housing reports from tenants as quickly as possible."

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said the Scottish government expected local authorities and registered social landlords to ensure their homes were "kept in a good state of repair and are otherwise fit for human habitation".

He added: "Local authorities can provide advice and assistance, and have powers under environmental protection legislation to tackle nuisances.

"The Scottish government's target of delivering at least 50,000 affordable homes, including 35,000 for social rent, is on track to be delivered over this Parliament.

"The 2019-20 Scottish Budget also provides local government with an additional £298.5 million revenue funding, a real terms increase of 1.2% for day-to-day services."