A resident has compared a Borehamwood road to a “third world slum” after a rising tide of rats invaded his garden.
Geoffrey Newton, who lives in Drayton Road, has been tormented by the rodents for the past four weeks.
He has regularly seen the pests sniffing around his garden and has heard them scurrying under the floorboards of his Victorian house.
Mr Newton said: “I counted five rats in five minutes in my garden. I’m normally an emotionally stable man but I’ve been suffering sleepless nights thinking there are rats under my floorboards.
Mr Newton, who is a therapist and foster carer, said the rats were having a negative impact on his job as well as his home life.
He said: “There are thousands of children desperately needing homes, but because of these rats my place is not safe for them.”
Three houses next door to his have also had sightings of the rodents.
He has traced the rats from a service road at the back of shops in Shenley Road, where they are breeding among the rubbish and crawling through the fences into the gardens.
He said: “I went round to look at the service road behind Peri Peri Chicken and Pizza Hut. I’ve just come back from Sao Paulo in Brazil, where I visited some of the worst slums, but this was worse.
“It’s disgusting. There’s rubbish and mattresses strewn on the floor, the bins are broken and have their lids off, and everywhere rats.”
An employee at one of the takeaways, who did not want to give her name, said: “We do our best to keep the area behind our shop clean, but we can do nothing because everyone else leaves their places in a tip.
“We’re selling food not shoes.”
Environmental Health Officers from Hertsmere Borough Council have visited the service road a number of times to try and tackle the infestation.
Rats have been attracted to this area for some time, but the problem had intensified as the newly opened Macius Polish Deli does not have a bin and have let piles of food waste accumulate.
The council has served two statutory notices, meaning the owners have 21 days to remove the waste and get a bin.
A council spokesman said: “There seems to be a high turnover of occupants, both domestic and business, so each time we clear the area and educate those who are responsible, it’s not long before there is a build-up of rubbish again.
“We have baited the area and will continue to monitor the situation and work with all parties to keep the area clean.”
The owner of Macius, Geena Karbownik, apologised about the rats and said she would clean the area and arrange for bins as soon as possible.