RATS which have infested a block of flats for years are keeping people awake scurrying up the wall cavities and going into one person's kitchen.

The rat infestation has led to one woman’s young daughter becoming too "terrified" to sleep at their flat in Buckley Close, Hove, due to the sound of the rats in the walls and ceilings.

Shannen Keating, 29, said she has been living there for four years but the last year has been the worst and now it is starting to affect her family.

The council said it has been “fully committed” to solving the problem by blocking holes, hiring a pest control contractor who has “started a course” of treatment for as long as is needed such as baiting the loft space.

But Ms Keating said the current methods have left a smell “you cannot forget” from decomposing rats and the only way to mask it is by burning scented candles.

The mother-of-three said the problem has been getting worse, with one rat getting into her flat in January this year, despite the council's efforts.

She said: “I spotted droppings a couple of years ago, but the last year has been really bad.

“It has got really bad in here, that’s when I spotted one in my kitchen. I think my dog had got it, he’s gone to my mum’s now, but he must have caught it during the night.

The Argus: A dead rat found in Shannen's flatA dead rat found in Shannen's flat

“So it must have come out through the bathroom and gone through my whole flat, I have children here who are too terrified to use the toilet now.”

Brighton and Hove City Council said it has not had complaints since repairs on November 11, but the mother-of-three told The Argus she is “still hearing rats running around” the wall cavities.

More recently, the council hired contractors to brick up a hole behind Ms Keating’s kitchen cupboard, as well as filling holes with expanding foam.

She added: “Realistically, it needs gutting because you can keep covering holes but every pest control guy tells us they don’t know why they keep being called. They have been to this particular flat four times.

The Argus: Left shows the pipe filled in next to the toilet, right shows bricked up section of utility cupboardLeft shows the pipe filled in next to the toilet, right shows bricked up section of utility cupboard

“My seven year old daughter won’t come home, she’s been at my mum’s and sister's for the past few weeks now, since it has got really bad. She won’t come to her own home because she’s terrified.

“The damage is done because it has become noticeable to the point where my children don’t want to be here.”

Ms Keating also has two sons, aged two and eight.

Dawn Barnett, Conservative councillor for Hangleton and Knoll, thinks the residents of the block should be rehomed.

Cllr Barnett said: “The council needs to sort it out once and for all, you are always going to have rats in any city, but you deal with them and they’re not dealing with them.

The Argus: Cllr Dawn Barnett outside the block of flats in Buckley CloseCllr Dawn Barnett outside the block of flats in Buckley Close

“There is 300 empty units across the city, so why aren’t they filling them up? In the immediate situation, I would like to see this block re-housed because at the end of the day it is going to take time to get rid of what is here.”

A council spokesman said: “The council has been fully committed to resolving this problem. We contacted the tenant this morning (November 26) who confirmed she has not heard rats in her flat since we began carrying out the repair work on 11 November.

“This work has included blocking potential entry points at a number of locations both inside and outside the property and appointing a pest control contractor who started a course of treatments aimed at resolving the issue.

“This will continue until the contractor advises us the treatments have been successful.

“We are also baiting the loft space and will continue to do this until the bait is no longer taken as the tenant has said she can still hear noises in the cavity.”

Have you got a story for us? Email news@theargus.co.uk or contact us here.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to keep up with all the latest news.

Sign up to our newsletter to get updates sent straight to your inbox.

You can also call us on 01273 021 400.