Hull veteran's three-year-long battle with squirrels in shared ownership home

Albert Isaksen, an Army Nuclear Veteran, has a shared ownership flat with Sanctuary Housing
-Credit: (Image: Hull Live)

An 85-year-old veteran from Hull said he believes more could have been done to remove squirrels from the loft at his shared ownership property and described the situation as a "complete and utter farce".

Albert Isaksen, an Army nuclear veteran, part owns his top-floor flat in west Hull but also pays rent to Sanctuary Housing who he says is responsible for the loft space and all external parts of the property. He says the unwelcome guests have chewed through wires and the noise has been an issue day and night. Sanctuary Housing told Hull Live somebody will repair the "possible entry points" of the rodents this week.

But Albert said it has taken three difficult years to get to this point, having first noticed the squirrels in 2021 after he and his late wife Barbara heard loud gnawing sounds. He then investigated and found droppings in the loft.


Sadly, Barbara was diagnosed with terminal cancer and Albert said they were distressed by the noise of scratching and gnawing throughout her illness despite his efforts to contact Sanctuary Housing and get the problem fixed. "I nursed her at home throughout her last year never knowing if and when the racket coming from overhead would interrupt our days or nights," he said.

The squirrels were also said to have chewed through the plastic insulating electrical cables in the loft on two separate occasions, cutting power to the building when it short-circuited. By this point, 85-year-old Albert had resorted to climbing into the loft himself to squirt white vinegar to repel the rodents.

Hull Live photographed what appeared to be rodent droppings in the loft at the Sanctuary Housing flat
Hull Live photographed what appeared to be rodent droppings in the loft at the Sanctuary Housing flat -Credit:Hull Live

He said: "There could be other exposed wires. I only found them because I was spraying vinegar." Albert said he reported the problem to Humberside Fire & Rescue who reportedly told him exposed wires are a fire hazard.

Albert said Environmental Health got involved and Sanctuary Housing contracted an electrician to tape up the exposed wires. But the loft is still covered in squirrel droppings and Albert believes squirrels will keep returning if their access hole isn't blocked.

"Three weeks ago, a contractor rang and had a look. He said certain areas have been fixed but one hole still needs doing. Their main point of access is above the window in the stairwell - there is light coming through the hole."

Albert claims he has sent more than 75 emails to Sanctuary Housing and is frustrated that what he believes was initially a "simple job" - trapping the squirrels and blocking the holes - has taken so long. He has been awarded some compensation by Sanctuary Housing but believes the tenants will have to pay for the soiled insulation to be replaced - which comes out of the sinking fund.

Hull Live visited Albert's property and looked inside the loft. There appeared to be a large number of droppings near the hatch and Albert said there are more droppings further in too.

Another resident, who did not want to named, told Hull Live squirrels had gotten into her cavity wall and she could hear them scratching and gnawing at night while trying to sleep. At one point, she said she feared it was rats.

A spokesperson for Sanctuary said: “We are committed to resolving this issue and understand the resident’s frustration. We can confirm that possible entry points have been identified following a recent loft inspection by our contractor and that the work required to block them has been arranged for Tuesday, July 2.”