Squirrels turn woman’s flat into death trap

Karen Law with the cooker the council gave her.

Karen Law with the cooker the council gave her.

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A COUNCIL tenant has told how her home could have “gone up at any time” after squirrels gnawed through her electricity cables.

Karen Law, 48, had only just moved into the Oxgangs Park flat when she noticed the immersion heater and some of the power sockets would not work.

She called out an electrician to fix the problem – but it soon emerged the damage caused by the rodents could have proven deadly.

Now Colinton/Fairmilehead councillor Jason Rust, who represents Oxgangs, is demanding an investigation into why Ms Law – who is seeking compensation from the council – was allowed to move into the property in the first place.

Ms Law, who took occupancy of the flat in March, said: “The place was in a bit of a state when I moved in, but because of the position I was in, I couldn’t turn it down.

“When I called out an electrician, he came out and told me two squirrels, a male and a female, had eaten through some of the electrical cables and it was agreed that pest control would deal with it.

“But when another electrician came out for a follow-up check, he said that because of the faulty electrics the house could have gone up at any time.”

Ms Law moved out of the property for around a fortnight while essential repairs took place.

She has now asked the council for a £400 payout after her cooker was destroyed, clothes which became trapped in the washing machine were ruined and frozen food had to be thrown out.

She said: “I can’t afford to get legal representation and I won’t qualify for legal aid.”

Councillor Rust, who said he was “disgusted” at the treatment of Ms Law, said: “I have asked for a full inquiry and question why a property was being let by the council when an electrician declares days later that it could go up at any time.

“The potential consequences of this situation could have been fatal and given the standards imposed on private landlords there are clear issues concerning the council’s duty of care.

“Lessons will need to be learned when letting formerly abandoned properties in future.”

A council spokesman said: “It is council policy for all properties to be fully cleaned and repaired before being let out to tenants.

“Once we were alerted to this issue prompt action was taken by the council.

“The tenant was offered temporary accommodation and kept fully up to date regarding the progress of repairs.”