A FAMILY say their lives have been made a misery - due to a plague of rats.

Ali Khan says his neighbour is apparently feeding the rodents and estimates there are as many as 100 living in the garden.

This has left his children too scared to venture into the garden and the family dog has even been attacked by the vermin.

Mr Khan, 34, moved into the property in Southampton just under two years ago, and says he believed the house next-door was empty.

He said: “When we first bought the house we thought next door was derelict, and that we could buy it and do it up. But two months later we found out it there was a lady living there.

"We offered to fix her garage windows at no cost because the glass is broken, is falling out and is dangerous, but she doesn’t want us to.”

Then, when work was being carried out on his home, the father-of-three says a rat was spotted - and the size of the infestation became apparent.

He said: “Every time we looked in her garden we saw six or seven rats at a time.

“They’re always running around, running across the road and going through the bins.

“My children won’t go out now, and we can’t put the dog’s food outside in case a rat urinates in it causing disease.”

The family dog, a male Staffordshire bull terrier called Amo, has even been attacked by the rats.

“On an average day there’ll be ten outside. You can hear them rustling around at night. We can’t open the back door in the summer in case they come in, and the shed has to be shut.

"The last thing I want is rats in the house. It’s beyond a joke,” Mr Khan said.

He has been in contact with the council's environmental health officers since first spotting the rats, and has recorded video of the rodents in the gardens and footage of what he claims is the neighbour feeding the vermin.

He said: “I've contacted the council untold amounts. I’ve been in ongoing contact for nearly two years with environmental health officers, who have told me that I need to pay for pest control to come out.

"I don’t want to pay because it’s not my property. The problem isn’t in my house – if they came and put poison in my garden it wouldn’t solve the problem.”

Mr Khan's neighbour did not respond when contacted by the Daily Echo.

Mr Khan said: “We’re seriously considering moving away. We wanted to live here because it’s a nice quiet area and no one sticks their nose in other people’s business. I always wanted a detached house because I’ve lived in a terraced house all my life and the garden is great for the kids. They should be allowed to do whatever they want but they don’t want to come outside.

Environmental health officers have been out to visit the property. A spokesperson from Southampton City Council said: “We can resolve most rat infestation problems in a straightforward way. However, some cases are more complex and take longer to resolve, as with this case.

“City residents who need assistance with pests such as rodents, insects and birds should contact the Pest Control Service by visiting our page on the council’s website at southampton.gov.uk or calling 023 8083 3005.”

The family’s ward councillor said: “I’ll contact the Head of Environmental Health for any advice and refer it to the Director of Social Services.

"The problem is you’ve got someone who is vulnerable but we’re not empowered to act on her behalf without her consent. I do have a lot of sympathy for the residents there and I extend my apologies to them. The council is sympathetic and is looking into it.”