A LETTING agency boss is calling for action after receiving a growing number of complaints from tenants about rat infestations.

Carl Hall, who lets out properties across Darlington, believes that if the council doesn't get to grips with the problem the town is going to have an epidemic of rat problems.

A claim that Darlington Borough Council disputes, maintaining that there has been no increase in complaints to its environmental health team.

Mr Hall, of Hall Properties, said: "There seems to be a rat problem everywhere across the town.

"We have received so many complaints from our tenants that something needs to be done sooner rather than later.

"It just seems that this year we are having an epidemic across the town. We don't know where they are coming from – whether its from collapsed sewers or from former out houses – there is definitely a problem.

"I'm really concerned about this. We try to provide quality housing but it is proving increasingly difficult. Surely this is bad for the town's reputation.

"As far as I'm concerned the council is not doing enough to help. The come out once and lay some poison but they don't return to carry out any follow up inspections.

"We are using an independent pest controller on our properties now but that is not dealing with the issue across the town – it's almost as if we are going back to the time of the plague."

There has been reports of rats in a number of areas across the town, but particularly in the Denes.

A council spokeswoman said there hadn't been an increase in calls to the local authority.

She said: “The Environmental Health team has not seen an increase in call outs for pest control issues. From time to time there can be localised problems with rats due to damaged drains or manhole covers for example.

"Any pest control problems should be reported to our customer contact centre. These will be followed up by Environmental Health who will carry out the necessary investigations."

The council's website contains advice for businesses and property holders on how to manage a rat infestation and how to identify a potential problem.

It reads: "Rats nest in any safe location near food and water. Outdoors, rats burrow into the ground. Indoors, nesting occurs in double walls, between ceilings and floors, in closed-in areas around worktops, and anywhere rubbish is allowed to accumulate."

Residents can receive pest control treatment at their properties for which a charge of £10 is made.

For further details about environmental health services visit www.darlington.gov.uk or call 01325-405111.