Families trapped in South London tower blocks infested with cockroaches and infamous pharaoh ants claim their ovens have blown up while insects have crawled into their kids’ ears.

Wandsworth Council’s housing committee heard last week that there have been pest infestions in Eliot and Wentworth Courts for years. 

The committee were told the infestations are a “decreasing problem”, with fewer reports from residents than before.

But people living in the blocks told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the infestations have got “worse” and that some residents don’t report them. 

Wandsworth Times: Eliot Court, Wandsworth (photo: LDRS)Eliot Court, Wandsworth (photo: LDRS)

One parent claimed her oven had “blown up” because of cockroaches in the wiring while another alleged her neighbour found a “cockroach in his daughter’s ear”.

Pharaoh ants also plague the blocks.

The pests are notorious for being major pests, particularly in buildings such as hospitals.

They are also considered very difficult to eliminate.

Davinia Johnson, 43, who has lived in Eliot Court for 22 years, said: “When I first moved in here it was better. It’s got worse since I lived here, over time it’s got worse.

"When I first moved here we didn’t have any infestation the way it is now – you might see them now and again but not really.

"I didn’t have mice, I didn’t have ants, I didn’t have cockroaches, I didn’t have any of this stuff.”

Ms Johnson, who lives in a two-bedroom flat with her partner and four kids, said she just wanted to move out of her “overcrowded” home and that the blocks would need to be knocked down and rebuilt to solve the infestations. 

She later added: “I’d rather you give me high council tax and you give us better properties.”

April Baker, 28, claimed the building was “riddled” with insects.

She said: “My oven blew up because the amount of cockroaches got in the wiring, every two days I find a dead mouse in my house and the ants are literally, you know the buzzerphone, there was a nest so bad it pushed it off the wall.”

Ms Baker said she moved to the estate five years ago and has been “wanting to leave since the moment I got here, everyone has”.

She said: “Everyone in this building is sick of this place and the way the council have responded is atrocious.

"I’ve paid out more than £300 for pest control and within days it comes back because all they do is scoot it out of your house into your neighbour’s and they come back.”

Siobhan, 35, who did not wish to give her surname, said one of her neighbours “found a cockroach in his daughter’s ear” and that “cockroaches are just running rife through some of these flats”.

She claimed the council is “slow at responding”.

The mum-of-one, who privately rents her flat, described the cleanliness and maintenance of the blocks’ communal areas as “really poor” and said the building should be deep cleaned at least once every three months because it’s “crammed” with residents.

She said: “The council have been well aware of the issue in this block for years – we’ve had cockroach infestation, I know that my neighbours have had mice, we’ve got ants at the minute.

"It’s poor, really, really poor.”

She later added: “You want to believe in the council, you want to believe that something’s going to get done and you wanna be positive because it’s your home, but […] you come back every day and nothing’s changed.”

The council’s housing committee were told earlier this month that pests were being “actively monitored” in the blocks.

A report shared with the committee says eradicating pests in the blocks is “difficult” because they have a communal heating system, with ducts and pipes running between buildings.

The report says there has been a fall in reports of mice over the past year, until March, but an increase in reports of cockroaches and pharaoh ants.

It says council contractors last treated the communal areas in January 2021 and that they would be treated again and on a quarterly basis going forward.

The report says there are “active orders to treat mice, cockroaches and pharaoh ants” in the blocks.

It adds: “In recognition of the fact that some residents may have felt reluctant to report such issues in the past the central area housing team will also write to all tenanted properties within Eliot and Wentworth Court to remind them how best to do so.” 

Wandsworth Council has been contacted for comment.