X Factor star finds giant rat in home after council gives 'all clear'

Jolene Burns holds up the giant rat just hours after council pest control experts said she didn't have a rodent problem
Jolene Burns holds up the giant rat just hours after council pest control experts said she didn't have a rodent problem

This is the giant rat snared in a Belfast home – hours after City Council pest control gave the house a clean bill of health.

Jolene Burns, 26, who lives in the New Lodge with her seven-year-old daughter, told the Sunday World she has been plagued with huge rats for weeks, which she believes are coming from an adjacent vacant property.

The former X Factor and The Voice contestant says she has been forced to flee her Lepper Street home after her pleas for help from the council fell on deaf ears.

“Eight weeks ago my neighbour moved out of their house and Housing Executive workmen came in to carry out renovations in it,” she told us.

“The noise they were making and the fact that they were doing so much work seems to have chased the rats into my house.

“I can hear them scratching at night underneath the floorboards, and I’ve seen them scurrying about the house, but nothing could have prepared me for what happened yesterday.”


Having endured weeks of the rat infestation, with a pungent smell making its way into every corner of her home, Jolene was eventually at her wit’s end after spending over £80 on rat poison which was ineffective.

“I spent so much money on poison I couldn’t take it anymore, so I got in contact with Belfast City Council to see if they could send someone out to deal with it.”

It took 10 days for the council to call out and when they arrived on Wednesday morning, Jolene said they gave the house a cursory check and were gone in 15 minutes.

“The guy arrived on Wednesday morning and he didn’t spend more than 15 minutes examining my house. He took a look under my sink and hot press and that was about it.

“He wouldn’t even look at the photos of rat droppings I’d taken on my phone.

“Then he simply said that I didn’t have a rat problem at all. My nerves have been wrecked with this, so when he left I went out and bought a proper rat trap.”

Just minutes after she set the trap it did its job. But Jolene had no idea just how big the rats in her house had become.

“Literally two minutes after I set the trap a rat got stuck in it. The rat is was about a foot long from its head to the end of its tail.

“So how did the council come to the conclusion that I definitely don’t have a rat problem, it took me two minutes to catch one!  

“And on the very same day they came out to see me. I’m really angry at the way I was treated.”


Jolene said that she was still dissatisfied with the council when she contacted them again.

“I rang them again on Friday morning after me and my daughter had to move in with my mother the problem is so bad.

“The person on the phone didn’t even apologise, they just said they would arrange for another pest control officer to come out and look at my house again.”

At the time of writing Jolene was still waiting for the council to contact her to arrange a time to visit her house again to deal with her rat infestation.

When we contacted Belfast City Council, a spokeswoman said: “A member of our pest control team called with Ms Burns by prior arrangement, along with a joiner from the NI Housing Executive which owns the property.

“The joiner removed parts of the kitchen to allow our officer to carry out an inspection. Our officer also checked the hot press of the property. No evidence of rats, either current or previous, was found.

“Ms Burns was unhappy with the assessment and asked both our pest control officer and the joiner to leave. If Ms Burns would like to arrange another inspection, she can contact the council’s free pest control service.”