Midlothian family's five year bed bug nightmare

A Midlothian family say they are desperate for help and could soon be homeless after battling a bed bug infestation.

Susan Ferguson with her three young children who are covered in bites.
Susan Ferguson with her three young children who are covered in bites.
Susan Ferguson with her three young children who are covered in bites.

For Mayfield couple Craig Elliot and Susan Ferguson, the long-time favourite bedtime ryhme ‘sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite’ sends shivers down their spine.

As the critters they’ve endured crawling over them and their three toddlers, have been coming back night after night for five years.

The family became aware of the problem within two weeks of moving into the Melville Housing Association flat in Hawthorn Crescent.

"We noticed burn marks on the walls and spoke to neighbours who told us the previous tenant experienced problems with bed bug infestation.

"We reported it to the housing association who gave us a date to empty the property for it to be sprayed.

The couple say that several months after pest control treatment, the bed bugs reared their heads again, biting their children and leaving them traumatised.

"Our premature twins were brought back to a bed bug and rat infested home,” said Craig. “We couldn’t take anymore and flung everything out, including carpets. We only had beds and essentials in the flat.

"Melville’s answer was to supply us with old work carpet tiles, so we put them down and it made no difference.”

The infestation started to take its toll on the family’s mental health.

Craig’s teenage daughter wrote a letter to the housing association in 2018 indicating that she felt suicidal – which Melville disputes.

It has since emerged that a letter was sent to the family from Midlothian Council’s child services, indicating that the housing association informed them of Mia's letter stating that she would “turn suicidal” if the difficulties continued.

Craig says that during the last five years he has suffered from depression and anxiety which has led to alcohol addiction.

“These last three months it’s become a crisis situation. I can’t cope being in this flat watching my family being bitten. It’s left us feeling low and ashamed of ourselves for not providing of kids with a safe home.”

In a last ditch attempt to escape the misery of their living conditions, the couple decided to give notice to end their tenancy and presented themselves to Midlothian Council as homeless. “Our application was rejected as we are still tenants.”

A spokesperson for Melville Housing Association said: “We take the welfare of our tenants and their families extremely seriously and our staff have put a great deal of time and effort into trying to resolve the issues that Mr Elliot has made us aware of.

“Although household pests are usually the responsibility of tenants, once notified we have been working with our specialist contractors to try to tackle those identified at the property. To do this we need the cooperation of tenants, something that hasn’t always been forthcoming, but even then eradicating pests is not an overnight process and we would ask for time to complete this.

“In the meantime we have offered Mr Elliot alternative permanent accommodation that he has turned down. The option suggested may not have been the perfect solution but we have a limited number of properties and can only offer what becomes available. Mr Elliot remains a priority on our transfer list and he and his family will be considered when further properties arise.”