Fly-infested flat gave woman ‘nightmares’ and left her sleeping in tent away from home

A woman whose home was invaded by swathes of flies has said she no longer has somewhere to live and is asking her landlord to help her move out of the infested flat after being “laughed at” by her housing officer.

Katie Wilson, from Cheltenham, has been forced to couch surf and sleep in a pop-up tent after her flat was plagued by a fly infestation that left her with “nightmares”, GloucestershireLive reports.

The infestation began in August when Katie woke to discover a large number of flies in the property, which is owned by Cheltenham Borough Homes.

Recalling how the grim infestation started, Katie said: “The fly infestation started in August and it went on for two weeks as my landlord had failed to come out and sort the situation out properly.

“To begin with, there were just a few flies, and the next morning I got up and heard the buzzing and lifted the mirror in the bathroom and behind it was covered in flies.”

Katie reported the issue, but said that the contractor didn’t solve the problem, adding: “I reported the problem to Cheltenham Borough Homes who sent a contractor two days later, and a proper fumigation was not carried out. He arrived with a can to kill the flies.

“A contractor also came out to seal the area where the flies were coming in, but it did not work. They said I should not be staying there. I stayed with a friend for a couple of days, but when I came back the whole flat was infested.”

The 24-year-old said that after the problem persisted she got in touch with Environmental Health, which told her to take videos to document the infestation.

She said: “I had to go to the flat to get the video evidence. When I got to the door I saw flies covering the windows of the kitchen and bathroom.

“I had to go in there and take a video of all the rooms which were covered in green and blue bottle flies. I have nightmares of what happened and I feel panicked at the thought of having to go back there now.

“About two weeks later after my sister complained, a proper fumigation was carried out but they left all of the dead flies there.”

Katie criticised how the infestation was handled, and even claimed she was ignored by her housing officer after being “distressed” about the issue.

She said: “Just after it happened, I was told by Cheltenham Borough Homes to go to speak to my housing officer who was at another flat at the time. That day, I did not know whether I was coming or going because I did not know what to do.

“When I did speak to my housing officer, I was very distressed and stressed, and she just laughed at me when I told her I had been speaking to Environmental Health and a manager at Cheltenham Borough Homes. She just walked off.”

The infestation is so bad that Katie said she can no longer bring herself to stay in the flat, adding: “I can not live there anymore. If this had happened to one of them, I do not think they would be able to stay there either.

“The flat is no longer somewhere I can call home. At the moment I am sofa surfing and sleeping in my pop-up tent in parks because I can not face going back. It is cruel to ask me to go back knowing how it has made me feel.”

Cheltenham Borough Homes said that it had made attempts to keep Katie safe, and was continuing to support her.

Head of Community Services for Cheltenham Borough Homes, Caroline Walker, said colleagues were “proactive” in dealing with the issue “swiftly and sensitively as soon as they were aware of the situation”.

She added: “To make sure Miss Higgins felt safe, we arranged for visits from pest control and carried out a deep clean of her home. During this time, we offered a place for her to stay while we carried out the works, and undertook a professional inspection to make sure the issue had been resolved before she moved back in.

“We continue to stay in touch with Miss Higgins, to look at how we can best support her and put her wellbeing first.”