A dad-of-two has spoken of his family’s ‘nightmare’ after they moved into a home where they found animals buried in the back garden.
Andrew Hatton and his partner Lana moved into the property in Crewe on March 13 with their two children – Ella, two, and one-year-old Hugo.
As soon as they arrived at the Guinness Homes property, they say they noticed a strong stench of dog urine.
Andrew said he worked through the early hours of the morning to clean the house and make it ready for Hugo, who suffers from Spina Bifida and fluid on the brain among other ailments.
But it got worse for the family when the home became infested with flies, Cheshire Live reports.
This led to the discovery of three dead rats in the loft along with cat and dog skeletons buried in the back garden.
Then they started finding fleas around the house, which was partly put down to the dog hair found behind the radiators.
The family have since moved to a new home but Andrew said he has lost thousands of pounds due to the work he had done on the property.
He said Guinness has given him a ‘good will payment’ of £280 along with a £220 voucher to decorate their new home.
A Guinness spokesperson said ‘extensive’ work was carried out in the property before the family moved in and that they responded ‘promptly’ to any concerns raised, though they apologised that some of the issues ‘could not be resolved more quickly.’
They also confirmed a payment was made ‘to reflect the inconvenience caused’, as well as to cover the costs for the new property, and claimed the family said they were ‘satisfied with this’.
But Andrew, 34, told Cheshire Live: “We were just living in a nightmare. It got so bad, the kids’ mum was crying every day. I haven’t had a drink for just over two years and it basically put me into a situation where I was drinking again. I had to end up ringing for a social worker to ask for help.”
He said they had gone to look around the property before they signed for it and that it had all ‘seemed OK’. They didn’t notice any smell other than the new paint.
Andrew said: “We went to have a look around when we got the keys on the Monday and that’s when it all started.
“First thing we noticed was the urine smell. We battled that ourselves – I was there 2am or 3am decorating or cleaning just because we needed to get it ready for our disabled boy to move into.
“It was just everywhere but I thought it had been sorted. It started coming back after we moved in, I don’t know if it was because of the warm weather.”
The smell was reported to the housing association and workers disinfected the property. When the smell came back again, Guinness replaced the flooring and skirting boards, which Andrew said ‘eased the smell for a short period’.
Then they started noticing they were getting ‘loads of flies daily in the house’.
Andrew said: “I went up in the loft just to put stuff in storage and I noticed on the insulation there must have been about a thousand dead bluebottle flies. I reported it and I was told they would send someone round to check on it.
“When they came to take out the insulation, they pulled out three dead rats. They obviously had got in and then couldn’t get back out.”
But the issue with the flies continued, particularly towards the back of the house. One day when Andrew was in the garden, his foot sank into the ground, which led to a grim discovery.
Andrew said: “My foot sank into the ground and a hole appeared, showing a blanket, I put some gloves on and pulled the blanket out to find the skeleton of a cat and a collar. I went around the garden and came across another cat and two dogs buried.
“The housing association said to me that because they had no flesh, and it was just bones, to just chuck it in the wheelie bin like you would a chicken. After that, the kids couldn’t go outside in the back garden or anything. They just had to sit on the driveway out the front.”
But it would not end there for the family, as they would find dog hair behind the radiators in the house. Andrew believes this is partly what led to them starting to find fleas around the home.
Ella then went to stay at her nan’s place but Hugo had to stay with his parents due to his complicated medical needs. He has a health worker, is fed via a machine and underwent a vesicostomy – a procedure that opens a hole in the abdomen through which a catheter can drain urine from his bladder.
Hugo suffered six bites on his stomach, near where he had the operation. Andrew said this led to Hugo being admitted to hospital five times with a urinary tract infection (UTI). He said the housing officer ‘did his best’ to help them and another three-bedroom property was found for the family.
But Andrew said the experience has taken a toll on them both mentally and financially. “Me and Lana hit rock bottom because of the stress and upset it caused,” he said. “We just felt like giving up, some days it was like hitting a brick wall.”
He claims to have spent around £5,000 of his savings trying to make the home suitable for his family. This included redecorating the children’s rooms, new carpets fitted, wooden laminate flooring in the lounge and hallway and decorating the kitchen.
He said: “The house that we’ve got now is better. It’s got the possibility to have adaptations made to it for when the boy gets older. But I shouldn’t have to get myself into all this debt, especially when I’m going to hospital with Hugo throughout the week. The last two months, we were at breaking point. To ask for help from a social worker – that’s how bad it got.”
A spokesperson from The Guinness Partnership said: “We completed extensive work to the property before Mr Hatton and his family moved in. This included installing a new kitchen, improving insulation in the loft and redecorating the property throughout. Before moving into the home, Mr Hatton identified an amount of dust and animal hair behind a radiator. We removed this, cleaned the property again, and installed new flooring and skirting boards in response to Mr Hatton’s concerns.
“After moving into the property, Mr Hatton reported issues with fleas, and flies in the loft. We responded promptly by arranging a specialist contractor to carry out pest treatments. Mr Hatton notified the Environmental Health department that the treatments had resolved the problem. It is not uncommon for more than one course of treatment to be required when dealing with pest issues in a home, however we are sorry to Mr Hatton and his family that this could not be resolved more quickly.
“Following works in his garden, Mr Hatton made us aware that a former resident had buried deceased pets in the garden. We are sorry for the upset this caused Mr Hatton. He received advice from the Environmental Health department that this did not pose a risk to him or his family.
“We have made a payment to Mr Hatton to reflect the inconvenience caused, and also paid the costs he incurred moving to a new property. Mr Hatton had told us he was satisfied with this, and he has not raised any concerns to us since. We will contact Mr Hatton to discuss this again and establish whether any further payment is due to him.”