A single mum claims she has been left ‘penniless with a newborn baby having waited months for compensation for replacement furniture’ after it was destroyed by rats in her council house.
Sian Hope* took Birmingham City Council to court on July 16, 2021 in a desperate bid to rid her home of rats before her baby was born. The infestation had become so severe the vermin had gnawed through her electricity cables and bed slats and laid a nest inside her sofa.
The judge ordered the council to pay her compensation for her sofa and bed. However, despite filling in the relevant forms, Sian says she is still yet to be paid more than three months later.
But the council says it is waiting on ‘supporting evidence’ to finish off the claim. The authority, however, has already paid compensation for Sian’s fridge which broke when rats chewed through her electric cable.
The new-mum is claiming £479 for a replacement bed and sofa, which she bought second-hand on Facebook Marketplace, and says she has sent receipts for this to the council.
Now, having also paid for carpets on a monthly plan so that her children don’t have to toddle, crawl and lie on bare floorboards, domestic violence victim Sian is struggling to have enough money to pay for food.
And, having got rid of the rat problem in the summer ahead of the court case, she is now gutted to hear that the vermin are scuttling round her loft again now that winter is coming.
“I think it’s disgusting that the council still hasn’t paid my compensation claim,” said Sian, whose daughter is three and baby son is nearly four months. They live in a terrace house near Birmingham city centre.
“Every time I email them, they ask if I can send evidence of my claim again. I’ve sent them screenshots of my previous emails and claim forms. This is the sixth time I’ve asked, and I’ve put in three complaints but had no response. The only reply I get is that I will have to wait 28 days to hear from each complaint.
“I’m being passed from pillar to post. I have to go through the repairs team as they don’t have a department that deals with compensation.
“I’ve had to replace the items, Christmas is coming and I’ve got a baby who is about to start weaning and I’m already struggling to buy food for me and my daughter. I just want to be paid what’s owed.”
Sian and her daughter ended up in the rat-infested house after fleeing their home with just the clothes on their backs due to domestic violence in September 2020. They went into a refuge until they were offered the terrace home but were unable to view the property due to Covid restrictions.
“It’s not like I caused this problem, the council moved me into a property that was not suitable, they are the ones in the wrong and they have a duty of care to put it right,” she said.
“This compensation is a lot of money to me, I don’t understand why they can’t just settle it.”
A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: “We are aware of the compensation claim and the court ruling. We will process the claim but require more supporting evidence from the tenant.
“We are working with them to provide this and once we have it the claim will be settled.”
* Sian’s name has been changed and we have chosen not to include her location to protect her identity due to the violent situation she left