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Mice everywhere. Spryfield public housing tenants fight government inaction

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Tenants living in a series of row houses in Spryfield have been dealing with a terrible mice infestation for two years now.

Typically, after tenants complain, their landlord will be prodded into some kind of half-hearted action. But it’s never enough, and shortly after the problem flares up again, tenants say.

The tenants live on Lavender Walk in Spryfield, a community of row houses in Spryfield.

Their landlord?

It’s the government.

The buildings are owned and managed by the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority, a provincial government corporation, with the Minister of Community Services at the helm.

Pictures destroyed

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Amy (not her real name), seems to live at the epicenter of the infestation. In a single month she caught about 50 mice.

“They are chewing the wiring, they chew the insulation on the hot water boiler, they ate the whole thing,” Amy tells the Nova Scotia Advocate.

They leave mouse droppings and urine everywhere.

“Just recently, in the beginning of March I noticed my house was infested again,” says Amy. “I wanted to clean out my storage room, and the mice had destroyed everything.

“Irreplaceable things, pictures of a child that is no longer with me. Her album full of pee. All my children’s baby books. Everyone that knows me knows that is the most important thing in the world. I lost my pictures, and that’s devastating to me.”

Mice are on the kitchen counter, they come out of the washing machine, they totally destroyed a living room couch, Amy says.

Landlord not doing enough

Amy has been trying for years to get the problem resolved.

“They came the first time I complained, they replaced the baseboards around the heater, but they never filled in the holes,” Amy says. “Another time they brought in pest control, they filled the cracks along the heaters with foam, but I still had issues, they were still coming through.”

“I would go over and complain, and the response was always that they would send someone over, and that’s all I’d ever hear, but nobody would ever come,” she says.

Jodi Brown, who lives next door, has a similar experience.

The mice are everywhere, and to tackle the problem one rowhouse at the time just doesn’t make sense, she says.

“Workers were in the attic last week, and there were tunnels in the insulation everywhere,” she says. “The drywall between the units is crumbling, and you can see the attic next door. So the mice pretty well go wherever they want.”

But when she wants the Housing Authority to sit down and develop a comprehensive plan of action she just encounters reluctance and pushback, Brown says.

“They just spray foam in it, and mice chew right through it. That makes no sense. And it doesn’t make sense to tackle one house. And it doesn’t make sense to spend two months on the job. That’s not acceptable,” says Brown.

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Asbestos, mouse droppings and urine

There is something else that worries the tenants. Asbestos.

“When we moved in we signed papers saying that we are aware that there could be asbestos in the walls,” Amy says. “ And we were told that if we put anything in the wall we have to wet it first, and for anything that has to be fixed (The Housing Authority) has to come over and do it because it’s dangerous.”

So exposed inner walls and mice chewing away adds to the anxiety.

There is also the smell of dead mice in the walls.

And droppings.

Amy as a rule mops the floor more than once a day to make sure her kids aren’t affected by urine and droppings left behind by mice.

When she doesn’t her daughter break out in bad rashes.

Community Services believes that the infestation only affects three units and is well under control.

“When this issue came to our attention, we took immediate action,” writes Heather Fairbairn, spokesperson for the department.

“Over the past several weeks, pest control specialists have been working to inspect each of the three units and taking the action needed to eliminate the pests. This includes checking the attic insulation and crawl spaces, placing rodent traps both inside and under each of the units, as well as sealing any holes or potential points of entry.

“The last of units is scheduled for inspection and treatment on April 5,” writes Fairbairn.

This contradicts the tenants’ assertion that the problem is widespread among Lavender Walk residents and has been flaring up for years.

When the Nova Scotia Advocate visited the apartments on Monday several holes were unsealed.

“You shouldn’t have to live like this,” Amy says.

Photos of interior contributed

Note: On Thursday April 7th Metro Regional Housing Authority tenants will hold a rally to demand better living conditions.

9 Comments

  1. anyone with any legal knowledge willing to look at this… landlords owe a duty of care which they are not meeting and are causing damages to the tenants, which I believe, is a sueable situation. ** A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a civil wrong that unfairly causes someone else to suffer loss or harm resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act, called a tortfeasor. Canada is a common law country.
    Part of the job for gov. lawyers is making sure the gov. is following the law as the gov. is representing Her Majesty, the Queen. The gov. of NS. does a lot of shitty stuff in her name with no seeming care about that at all. The people should get together and seek legal help.. sickening to me that public paid lawyers seem to believe that their job is to shield and protect public paid gov. workers from being accountable to do the job they are paid to do.

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  2. It is not just lavender i live over on indigo walk and i have had pribkems with mice forever they sent someone to fill in cracks and that and not working my basement i can get atleast 9 aweek down there on a trap and my cat has caught 7 this past week everywhere u look is droppings i have to clean my stove in and out everyday cause of droppings through it

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  3. It”s not just mice or just Lavender. We also have Rats which i have been living with for a while before that I was catching mice everyday. Yes housing sent in PCO but the rodents learn how to move around and avoid them. I was told by PCO that I only have one that was “brave” enough to come up into my unit ,which would walk right out in front of my family at any point of the day. I caught 2 rats a week later and still have more. All of the units in rows are connected and if your not treating everyone they just move to the next safest place. Weather it’s mice,rats,bed bugs or what ever it might be Housing and PCO are not following the proper protocol to get rid of them and so they will never be gone just move on to the next unit.

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  4. We have had mice for a while now we are dealing with rats the rats are dying off in my walls and the smell is unbearable.they put holes by my back door in the floors and in the wall,so housing way of fixing it put foam in holes and I just don’t understand why they dident fix my floor or wall.living this way really makes you depressed, I think housing don’t care at all how we live and I think they think we should be happy with what we got..

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  5. all those places need to be torn down litterly…my daughter lives there and iam discusted with that place up there..i worry about my familys health.. they are sick alot and iam fed up with it all….i also live in housing at 166 cowie hill lodge..and these places are fallomg down around us..there is radon in our building and since i lived her iam sick alot ..so tired of our goverment giving us the push over everytime someone call they get the same answer i have been trying to call for 2 days now all u get now is an answering machine they take lunch break from 11;30 till 1pm really..iam taking up a petition to have all these places torn down and re built thats the only thing that will workand screen those who dont do anything about their infection of bed bugs its just nasty everyone has to work togeather to rid of these insects and rodants..lets all get togeather and do a petition to tear down mrha housing and rebuild..come on all…

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