Bed Bugs: 'We had to move from our Hammersmith & Fulham flat - it was horrific'
A family of four have talked of living in a "horrific" bed bug-infested flat in Fulham.
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A family has been moved from their council flat due to a bed bug infestation - which they say became so bad they refused to go outside.
Mark Henderson and Chelsea Francis feared passing the insects to others so would stay holed up in the one-bed property in Fulham, south-west London.
The couple - parents to Ewan, two, and Riley, four weeks - say Mark has been unable to work as a result.
This means they have been forced to live on £900-a-month benefits, they say, as Chelsea has been declared unfit to work due to suffering with epilepsy.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council took action on October 19 and moved the family into a hotel while a new home is looked for.
Handyman Mark, 27, said: “It was horrific having to live there. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Me, my partner and two kids couldn't leave the house because we are covered in [bed bugs] and didn't want to pass them on.
“I don’t want people to think we’re dirty - the house was spotless. We’re clean people but the bed bugs were just everywhere."
The couple have been in the flat for seven years, they say. But the severity of the bed bug problem ramped up in the last year - causing so much stress they wanted out.
Mark said: “My kids get [bed bugs] in their ears - it’s absolutely disgusting. We couldn't go to out as a family.
"There was funfair the other day that we had planned to go to, but we couldn't. The bed bugs are in their prams, in their clothes - they are even in the fridge.
“We just want to live our lives and be able to go outside. No one should have to go through this.”
Chelsea, 26, said: “The bed bugs weren't budging. They get in wardrobes and in my bed. They were everywhere. It was awful and so gross, knowing that you were getting crawled on the whole time. It was like a nightmare.”
Hammersmith & Fulham Council said officers had visited the property nine times since 2018 over the issue. A spokesperson confirmed the family was moved and that new accommodation was being sought.
Mark said of their first night in a hotel: "Being able to have a bath and a shower and coming out knowing you won't be sitting back in bed bugs was amazing. It's the best sleep we've ever had. Both the kids slept like logs. We are so relieved to be out of there."
A council spokesperson said: “We have acted swiftly and moved the family into a hotel, as we find them a new, permanent home.
"We are now working closely with the family to make sure that they have the daily support they need – including a dedicated social worker, any clothing, bedding or furniture they need, meals, as well as financial help to allow them to buy other food and supplies.
"Any H&F residents struggling to pay their bills or need advice about benefits or support can call our dedicated team for help on 0800 917 6994 or visit: www.lbhf.gov.uk/costofliving.”