Rainham couple in MHS Houses property left coping with bedbugs for years

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Rainham couple in MHS Homes property left dealing with bedbugs for years

A couple say they are at “breaking point” after years of living with bedbugs and claim their housing association put it down to them being “dirty people”.

Sally and Fred Matthews were studying the bugs at their mhs home on Birling Avenue, Rainham, even before the pandemic.

And although they tried to get rid of the critters briefly, they have now come back.

The couple believe their unwelcome return was due to ceiling work being done at the home on behalf of Medway’s largest landlord.

Sally, who is confined to a wheelchair, said: “In January 2020 I got bed bugs. The housing association said it was my fault, so I paid with my welfare to arrange for pest control to deal with the situation.

“But they were still there so I then paid another £600 to get rid of them again through pest control.

“The guy did a really good job and I thought that was the end.”

Sally and Fred Matthews of Birling Avenue, Rainham

The 46-year-old’s partner later moved into the property and the couple have had no further problems with the infestation.

MHS Homes says it is responding immediately and has ordered treatment work each time it has been notified and is continuing to work with Sally to “resolve the issue”.

However, Sally claims the critters only returned after mhs homes began taking down parts of their ceiling for safety maintenance.

She added: “We were told by an independent pest controller that bed bugs come from the top down.

“So when mhs homes took the ceiling off and exposed it over a weekend the bugs came back to my eyes.

“But the housing association seems to be saying it’s because of my lifestyle that the bed bugs are coming back because we’re dirty people.”

The bed bugs in Sally's houseThe bed bugs in Sally’s house

According to Action Pest Control, it’s a common “misconception” that bug infestations are caused by dirt.

A statement on the company’s website said: “These bugs are not attracted to decay.

“They are blood-eating insects and will live in any environment as long as they have access to their food source.

“Bed bugs live almost exclusively on humans and can be found all over the world.

“Bed bugs are hitchhiking.

The Birling Avenue Flats, Rainham.  Image: Google MapsThe Birling Avenue Flats, Rainham. Image: Google Maps

“You can find them on buses, trains, planes, cruise ships and taxis.

“In office buildings, universities, nursing homes, schools, libraries and other homes.”

Sally suffers from fibromyalgia (chronic widespread pain), nerve damage, stress urinary incontinence and PTSD with a personality disorder.

She said: “I have a very bad shoulder, a hernia and to top it off the bugs are not only causing me stress but also breathing problems.

“When things got particularly bad in December, Pest Control said they would come to see us on January 9th.

Sally Matthews of Birling Avenue, RainhamSally Matthews of Birling Avenue, Rainham

“However, it got to the point where the bugs actually got inside my incontinence pads.

“So on January 5th they came to do it. It made no difference.”

Sally and Fred had numerous calls to mhs home.

The couple also claim that Fred, who is Sally’s full-time carer, developed asthma because of the bed bugs.

Sally says she spent £900 on pest control and a further £120 on a used leather sofa in hopes of stopping the bugs.

The bed bugs on Sally's incontinence padsThe bed bugs on Sally’s incontinence pads

But despite all of that, she still feels like she’s fighting an unbeatable fight.

She said: “We’re at the breaking point and my argument is where are they coming from?

“All I can think about is when mhs homes took the roof off.

“We don’t know where they come from, but we find them on our clothes, in our closets and on our furniture.

“We wash our clothes and our home all the time, every day. I have hardly any money left and I don’t know what to do.”

She has asked mhs home if she can move, but says the request has been denied.

“I told them to get me out of here,” she added. “But they said they can’t because of my complex needs, which means I need a wheelchair.”

Sally says she’s the only one in the apartment facing the problem.

“We are doing everything we can and will continue to work with Ms. Matthews to resolve the issue.”

When asked about this, MHS Homes did not comment on whether work on Sally’s ceiling may have caused or contributed to ongoing problems.

Emma Hancock, Executive Director of Assets and Development at Social Landlords, said: “We have been working with Ms Matthews since she first reported bed bugs to us in January 2020.

“We treated her property shortly after that initial report with no further reports of bed bugs thereafter.

“Since Mrs Matthew reported her back to us we have carried out two further treatments and had a specialist contractor visit on January 24th to carry out further tests.

“We are doing everything we can and will continue to work with Ms. Matthews to resolve the issue.”