Dead Rat Found in Fulham Family's Water Tank

Series of illnesses blamed on Council failure to install lid

A dead rat found in Serene Dixon's water tank

A mum of three has spoken of her horror after the decaying carcass of a rodent was found floating in her water tank, which contaminated her family’s bathing water.

Serene Dixon was stunned when a plumber realised her water tank had never had a lid for the four years her family has lived in the council property.

The 37-year-old suffers from an undiagnosed bowel condition, which she believes was brought on by the water becoming contaminated, after the animal crawled into the tank.

Her children, a teenaged son and two young daughters, have suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea since they moved to the Hammersmith and Fulham Council property in 2017.

The council has apologised and confirmed it will move the family to a new property while maintenance work is carried out on the maisonette in Lambrook Terrace, Fulham. Water pipes have been installed into the mains so that the tank can be removed.

Ms Dixon has mobility issues, and has never been able to access the loft. But she had continually complained of being able to hear squirrels and birds, a problem she first raised with the council in January 2018.

“For the last two-and-a-half years I have been having squirrels and birds in my loft, and rats. We’re not sure what the animal in the water tank is because you can’t tell,” said Ms Dixon, who used to work for the council as an anti-social behaviour manager.

“The loft has been an issue because you could hear animals fighting and running around. They sent pest control in 2019 and they killed three squirrels, but the holes were never blocked up.”

Recalling the moment her plumber found the decomposed animal in her water tank, on January 6, Mr Dixon said: “It was only found because we had a plumber visit to fix a problem with our toilet.

“He told me he was going to look at the water tank, I heard an almighty scream.

“I asked if he was okay and he was shouting back ‘I can say what it is. It’s disgusting, it’s disgusting.

“Obviously I can’t get up to the loft so I gave him my phone to take a photo.

“He was saying he couldn’t see a lid for the water tank anywhere.

“The lid would have been wider than the hatch to get into the loft, so it couldn’t have been taken anywhere. We have no idea if it ever had a lid.”

She continued, “I didn’t know what to say. This is an animal that’s been destroyed by the water. It doesn’t have a face and it’s all mangled. It makes me feel ill just thinking about it.”

Ms Dixon said her son has been having diarrhoea “and the youngest of the girls have been vomiting before bed”.

“I have a bowel issue that I’m having to take very heavy doses of pain medication for. My doctors have had to take six different tests to work out what it is.”

The council has also been repeatedly made aware of a crack in the exterior wall of the property, through which mice and rats had crawled into the kitchen.

A council spokesperson said, “We’re very sorry for the length of time it’s taken to make the necessary repairs to Ms Dixon’s home. We take maintenance issues very seriously and we’re working with Ms Dixon to complete all the repairs as soon as possible.

“So far, we’ve completely replaced her pipework and connected her to the main water network so she will not need a water tank in future. She is also set to be moved to a new home in Fulham once a suitable property becomes available.”

Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter

January 20, 2021