Melbourne’s development boom has seen a rise in rats and mice invading homes and gardens, prompting calls for anti-rodent laws to be reinstated.

Stonnington councillors will debate a proposal this week to lobby for state laws forcing developers to eradicate rodents before demolishing buildings. Cr Tas Athanasopoulos said residents living near development sites were tired of being swarmed by rats and mice whenever a building was knocked down in their neighbourhood.

“I remember receiving mail and when one of the staff opened it up there was a dead rat inside,” Cr Athanasopoulos recalls. “Later when I went to visit one of the ethnic community groups a woman from the Hungarian group asked me ‘did you receive my mail?’ She said she couldn’t put pen to paper to explain the rat problem in her area.”

The council has received 40 formal complaints about rats and mice in the past three months, with community members growing increasingly exasperated by the ongoing rodent problem, Cr Athanasopoulos said. “I think this year is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” he said.

“I get involved in the garden and I have a hobby farm in Kyneton, we plant about 200 tomatoes and about three quarters of them got eaten by rats”. Individuals can do their part in getting rid of the rats, Cr Athanasopoulos said.

“It’s a bit of rat plague down here, if you’ve got animals, birds, dogs, they’re going to attract mice and rats, and it’s important at the end of the day to take rubbish out of the house, and leave no scraps”.

“However, when it comes to development projects, houses waiting to be demolished sit empty for months and become ideal nests for rats to breed in,” he said. “The best time to kill them is when they’re in the house. It costs about $400.00 to $500.00 to get pest control down and the person who is demolishing should pay for that,” he said. Victorian legislation forcing developers to eradicate rodents before demolishing a building was abolished in 1995.

Cr Athanasopoulos will raise a motion at this week’s Stonnington Council meeting to lobby Spring St to reinstate the laws, which would require developers to produce a rats and mice clearance certificate before a demolition permit was approved.

“The next step is to go to state government and lobby them and hopefully a few other councillors can come onboard because it is a state issue,” Cr Athanasopoulos said. “Now it’s been passed we’ve got to go to the next step, draw something up and speak to the health minister”.