Plague of rats forces Carrickfergus couple from home wrongly built on top of sewer
A man has been left with a "worthless rat house" after rodents invaded his home, which was built on top of a sewer.
Paul Welsh and his partner Kim Hagan, from Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, had to leave the detached home, which was built seven years ago and cost £90,000.
They have been living in rented accommodation in Ballycarry for the past four years at £750 per month while still paying the £550 mortgage on the first house.
After it emerged that the home had been built over a sewer without authorisation, the couple decided to pursue the matter through the courts.
"It is an absolute nightmare," Paul told the Belfast Telegraph last night.
The 38-year-old, who runs a car wash business in Whitehead, added: "We moved into the house in 2009 and two years later noticed droppings, which we assumed were mice.
"It turned out to be rats.
"A pest control company said that they would like to use my home as a training facility because they had never seen so many rats in their lives.
"We could always hear scratching above the ceiling and hear them gnawing at wood, and it made my skin itch.
"We then found out our house had been built over a main sewer without permission."
Mr Welsh told this newspaper that he felt let down by the builders, the Planning Service, Northern Ireland Water and the local council.
"Anyone who builds a house has to apply to NI Water for a build-over agreement," he said.
"This means that there is adequate foundation for the weight it is carrying above the sewer. Our mortgage should never have gone ahead."
NI Water said that it was aware of an unauthorised build over a sewer at Mr Welsh and Ms Hagan's address.
"However, any damage caused to the sewer and subsequent repair costs is the responsibility of the person who built the dwelling," the organisation added in a statement.
"The customer has since been in touch with us and requested a cost to repair the sewer.
"A quote is currently being finalised and will be with the customer shortly."
Mr Welsh explained how the ongoing saga was costing him "a fortune" and said the stress has been damaging to his family, including his five-year-old daughter Natasha, who calls the Carrickfergus property "the rat house".
"The mortgage company has just valued the site at £40,000," he added."We are exhausted by this all."
The dispute, which is understood to involve the builder, architects and council, is due to be heard at the High Court in Belfast next month.