Mum’s nightmare in ‘rat infested' home (and they’ve even been in the toaster)

The shocking moment Christina Lincoln from Gilesgate found rats running around her toaster in her 'infested' home. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO
The shocking moment Christina Lincoln from Gilesgate found rats running around her toaster in her 'infested' home. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO

A County Durham mum has told how she feels trapped in her rat-infested home after the problem got so bad she found rats climbing around her toaster.

Christina Lincoln, from Gilesgate, says she feels trapped in her home as rats chewed through cables, pipes, carpets and even her daughter’s new school shoes.

The mum-of-five has even had to ask her mother Karen to look after her kids because she fears them being bitten by the vermin.

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Christina told The Northern Echo: “It’s horrendous – I feel trapped in this house and it’s not healthy.

“I went to put the washing on the other day and thought the door mustn’t have been closed properly because it hadn’t come on but the rats had chewed through the pipes.

Christina says the rats had chewed through the pipes to the back of her washing machine. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO

“They’ve gone through the skirting boards, flooring and my daughter’s new school shoes.

“The door to the kitchen is starting to hang off because we have to rattle it each time we go in to scare any rats away.”

Christina’s Durham home is owned by housing association Riverside Housing, who have now sent out pest controllers to deal with the problem.

The Durham mum says rats chewed through her daughter's new school shoes. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO

Ms Lincoln added: “It started about a year ago when we had mice and put some traps down, then we caught a rat in one of them and we’ve had loads ever since.

“The pest controllers have put down poison, but you feel constantly on edge. I’ve been living on microwave meals because I’m scared to go into the kitchen for too long to cook or do the dishes.”

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Riverside Housing has told The Northern Echo it appreciates the ‘great deal of distress’ the rat problem is causing.

A spokesperson for Riverside said: “We are really sorry that Christina and her family are being affected by rats in their property and we appreciate this must be causing a great deal of distress.

“We were first contacted about this problem on Friday (23 September). We made several attempts to get in touch before speaking to Christina on Wednesday (28 September) in order to get the full details and provide support.

Christina says the rats have chewed through her flooring. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO

“Under our Standard Tenancy Agreement, we would usually support tenants to resolve an infestation through their local authority environmental health service. However, on this occasion due to the seriousness of the problem we are taking immediate action.

“We have employed pest control contractors to visit Christina’s house to determine what is required to treat the infestation. They will carry out a full risk assessment to determine what damage there is to the property and whether it is uninhabitable due to the infestation.

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“Any damage will be repaired and if the property is deemed uninhabitable, we would seek to temporarily relocate Christina and her family to suitable alternative accommodation until we have resolved the matter.

“We would like to reassure Christina that we are taking immediate action with this issue and will ensure it is resolved quickly and efficiently.”

Rats have even chewed through the carpets, Christina says. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO

“We have also been working with the local authority environmental services to see what support can be provided for other local residents as we believe there is a wider problem with rat infestations in the Gilesgate area. This will require a multi-agency response and we will continue to engage with our customers and local partners in this area and carry out regular estate inspections to resolve this issue.”

Last month The Northern Echo reported how residents at homes on another Durham street criticised their housing association for the ‘neglect’ of their homes which are ‘impossible to heat and riddled with mould problems’.

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Speaking on the state of social housing in her constituency, City of Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy said: “There is a serious shortage of good quality social housing in Durham. My inbox is often filled with tenants who are either trapped in a damp or crumbling property, while so many others are on a waiting list desperate to find a decent home.

“Housing isn't just a market- it’s a human right.

“The solution is simple- we need to properly invest in social housing again. That’s why I have been pleased Labour have this week announced we would allow councils to build again and ensure our residents have safe, secure, and affordable homes where they can live in dignity.”

Have you been left living in poor conditions by your landlord or housing association? Get in touch by emailing

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