Squirrels and rats from derelict house in Hatfield infest next door

PUBLISHED: 06:59 24 March 2020

Overgrown house at Branch Close in Hatfield.


 Picture: Karyn Haddon

Overgrown house at Branch Close in Hatfield. Picture: Karyn Haddon

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A 79-year-old woman from Hatfield has been living next door to a rat-infested house that has been abandoned for 17 years.

Overgrown house at Branch Close in Hatfield.


 Picture: Karyn HaddonOvergrown house at Branch Close in Hatfield. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Valerie from Branch Close has had to call out exterminators again and again – at £140 a pop – to deal with the squirrels and rats coming from the derelict house.

Her daughter Susan told the WHT: “She now has squirrels in her loft.

“It’s been empty for 17 years and at first there were no issues but now she has problems with rats.”

Valerie, a Hatfield native who used to be a forklift driver, has been living in the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council-owned house for over 25 years.

Overgrown house at Branch Close in Hatfield.


 Picture: Karyn HaddonOvergrown house at Branch Close in Hatfield. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Susan claims that the council will not repossess the home next door, which she believes would solve the situation.

“The derelict house is falling into disrepair and obviously damaging [the council] property as well,” Susan said.

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Compulsory purchase orders, granted under Section 226(1)(b) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, can be used to take over a vacant property if the owner of the property fails to engage with the council.

Overgrown house at Branch Close in Hatfield.


 Picture: Karyn HaddonOvergrown house at Branch Close in Hatfield. Picture: Karyn Haddon

But Susan does admit that council workers have tried to remedy the situation by offering sheltered accommodation.

However Valerie does not want to move out of her home, which she shared with her husband who died two years ago.

Susan added: “They do come and cut back the overgrowth coming [on to her house] but it just keeps growing.”

A spokeswoman for Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council said: “We’re sorry for the distress [Valerie] and her family have experienced and are committed to resolving the issues as quickly as we can.

Overgrown house at Branch Close in Hatfield.


 Picture: Karyn HaddonOvergrown house at Branch Close in Hatfield. Picture: Karyn Haddon

“We have discussed the possibility of a move to sheltered accommodation and, should that be a preferred way forward, would be happy to help progress the application.

“In the meantime, we are exploring what action we may be able to take to get the neighbouring property up to standard.

“We have also advised of our subsidised pest control service, which may be available free of charge depending on the circumstances.

“This would also help identify the potential source, which we can then follow-up with surrounding properties.”

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