Swat A Mess – A Couple Say Their Home Of More Than Four Decades Has Been Invaded By Flies
A couple say their home of more than four decades has been invaded by FLIES – and they’re so embarrassed they refuse to let anyone in.
Angela Hickey, 68, and John Hickey, 79, claim the property they have lived in for 43 years has now been taken over by thousands of drain flies, which belong to the Psychodidae family and are sometimes known as moth flies.
And the couple, from Stanmore, Middlesex, in southeast England, allege that their housing association has not dealt with the problem satisfactorily.
The pair were moved into a hotel after the association said they would fumigate the property and pull the kitchen out to assess the source of the problem.
But, when they returned home, Angela and John claim they found minimal work had been done – and the flies were still in the property.
And, nearly 18 months since they first noticed the flies, they are still trying to get rid of them.
Home Group Housing Association said its team had “gone over and above to try to resolve the issue.”
But Angela claimed: “It’s so embarrassing and means we can’t let anyone in to the house – we had a new grandson born in January 2021 and couldn’t have him here as I wouldn’t do that to a child.
“It’s got to the stage where we were eating and they would fly into your mouth and go down your throat – they’re in our cupboards, our fridge, in literally everything, there’s no respite anywhere.
“I wouldn’t even go in the kitchen, when you’re trying to prepare a meal and they land on it the whole lot has to go in the bin.
“My husband is coming up to eighty and has a bad back yet he’s spending all of the time he has pulling out appliances in the kitchen to clean up hundreds of dead flies underneath them.”
The couple say they moved into the property – which is currently owned by Home Group Housing Association – in 1979, when it was first built.
They first noticed the flies in November 2020, which they put down to an anomaly and didn’t think too much of it.
They then started to notice the flies at night, so called the housing association who said they were unable to help due to COVID-19 restrictions.
This means it wasn’t until April 2021 that a maintenance worker was sent to the property, the couple claim.
But, by this time, Angela and John say the infestation had become significantly worse.
The flies were mostly in the bathroom which had previously been converted into a wet room due to Angela’s disability.
The couple claim that, when it had been installed, the pipes hadn’t been sealed correctly – leaving space for the flies to appear.
Another contractor was sent out to seal up the pipes – however it had been left so long that the flies had established themselves elsewhere in the flat.
The number of flies began to dramatically increase and were found all over the property, including the bedroom and kitchen.
The property was fumigated several more times, they say – but the flies continued to appear in the flat.
And it was at this point Angela says Home Group Housing Association made the decision to move the couple into a hotel while they pulled the kitchen out to investigate the source of the flies.
However, they say when they returned, they found that the kitchen was still in the same state, with just some pipes under the sink showing signs of being resealed and the flat having been fumigated again.
Now, the couple say they are still plagued by the drain flies and are at a loss on how to resolve the issue.
“It started in November 2020 when we started noticing a few black flies in the kitchen and at first we didn’t think much about them,” said Angela.
“We called the housing association to report it and were told they couldn’t come out because of Covid.
“The first time they came out was in April 2021 with a little bit of spray which the contractor sprayed on the flies he could see on the walls.
“At this point they were mostly in the bathroom and we started to notice them coming out of a pipe behind the toilet – we had a wet room put in a few years ago and when it was installed they hadn’t sealed the pipes together.
“Someone came and sealed the pipe up but because it had been left for so long the flies had nested elsewhere in the flat – we started to notice them in the kitchen and by the bedroom window and it snowballed after that.
“They didn’t want to do any proper work on it because of the cost but we’ve lived here for forty-three years – I told them they should take it out of the rent we’ve paid in that time.
“They’ve moved us out while they’ve fumigated and when we came back, we would find hundreds on the windowsills and all over the floor.
“I can’t go very far because I’m disabled and more or less housebound but they don’t seem to care – even when I showed them pictures and asked if they would want to live like that.
“Just over a week ago they said they were going to move us out, pull out the whole kitchen and find out what is happening.
“They put us into a hotel and said it would be a week at first – I kept telling them I need a accessible room with a wet room because I’m disabled but the minute we walked in we knew it wasn’t a disabled room.
“I ended up having an accident when I went over a ramp with my walker – I went flying over the top of it and landed on my head which split open.
“I told the housing association I was going home on Friday and we got a neighbor to come and pick us up – and when we got back it didn’t look like anything had been done.
“They said they would pull the whole kitchen out so my husband had cleared everything out but we came back and nothing had changed, the only thing that had been done was some pipe work under the sink.
“We’ve still got flies – we wouldn’t have been in this situation and I wouldn’t have had that accident if they’d just listened to us in the first place.”
Louise Barkes, head of maintenance at Home Group, said: “We’re sorry to hear that our customers are unhappy with the way we have tried to resolve their issue.
“Despite the fact that these types of issues are the responsibility of our customers the team has gone over and above to try to resolve the issue.
“We carried out five pest control checks, and engaged three different pest control companies – we’ve worked very closely with the environmental health department at Harrow who praised us for our tenacity.
“Cost was never an issue, it was the fact that all fumigations proved unsuccessful which is why we suggested looking behind the kitchen units and under the floor to see if we could find the root of the problem.
“We found some corroded pipework, which we have replaced – we feel we have resolved the issue, but we will know better once the lifecycle of the flies end.
“The works were due to take place on May 16 but because of a leak in the bathroom it was agreed we would bring the works forward as our customers would have no bathroom facilities.
“Our customers moved out over the May Bank Holiday weekend, which meant there were limited hotel rooms.
“The team spent days searching hotels, B&Bs, and rental properties trying to find alternative accommodation but were unsuccessful due to such high demand.
“We provided a wheelchair to ease access issues.
“We are very sorry to hear of our customers’ fall but relieved that they are ok.”