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We couldn’t use three bedrooms as a family of rats nearly drove us out of our second year house

Little did we know there’d be more than six of us living in that house…

The advice I got when I chose my second-year house is to have a maximum of four friends that I should move in with. I sometimes question whether that was where we went wrong.

There were six of us in a seven bedroom house. There was meant to be plenty of space. Everyone was meant to have their own rooms with three people using each bathroom. We wouldn’t have ever believed that four of us were going to be sharing two rooms, which meant two people sharing a double bed for the entire year. How could I have guessed that the house already had tenants and we were the unwanted guests in their space?

Jimmy made his presence known to us over the summer when we received an email to say that he had been active in the house, but our letting agency had escorted him off the premises. Funnily enough, we had no reason to doubt them. We were just relieved. Nobody wanted to share their room with another tenant.

It wasn’t 'til we arrived back in Southampton to begin our second year, when we realises Jimmy hadn’t left and he most certainly planned to stay. We arrived back to the smell of piss, damp and holes in sofas, bedding and food packages.

His anger had no ends. It was as if we had moved our stuff into his bedroom and he was tired of it. He tore up my £33 jacket from New Look that I had bought in first year as a present to myself for my birthday.

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My coat smelt like Jimmy had been using it as his own personal toilet.

He had peed on our kitchen utensils, my clothes, my friend’s clothes and belongings, three of our beddings, ripped into some of our dry food as well as the beautiful navy carpet.

You’re probably thinking how disgusting this is. How could a person do this? Where are their manners? Now is probs a good time to mention that Jimmy is a rat. Me and my six friends lived with him and his family for the entirety of our second year.

Shocked, right? I mean, if you’re a student in Southampton this is probably all too familiar for you. You are bound to see at least one during your time here. Even living with one is a common shared memory of your second year housing, unless you’re one of the lucky ones.

Jimmy had fun terrorising us. Rat droppings were everywhere you turned. On the floor, on the beds, in the corners of the room and even on the kitchen hob.

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Who was actually going to use that cooker to make food? Let me tell you, it was not going to be me

He went from one room to the next, as he made his presence known. He tore a hole in the bed of my friend’s room, emptied her biscuit packet underneath her bed, left droppings inside my friend’s handbag while she was asleep and ate her chewing gum. He was cheeky. Defiant. Uncontrollable. We couldn’t believe that one rat wanted so much space and was actually going out of his way to get it.

After occupying three rooms out of the seven, it became a running joke that Jimmy had a family. We called his wife Susan and their kids, Jimmy Junior and John. The two kids had their own room while Jimmy and Susan shared one.

My friends refused to sleep in their allocated rooms and moved out of them promptly. Two moved into the spare bedroom in the attic whilst the other moved into another friend’s room. Thus, began the sleeping arrangements for that entire year.

It was only after Jimmy had taken back the third room did our letting agency lay down poison and block all the holes. By this time, it was November. We had been at University for a good month and a half. We were tired, scared and traumatised from Jimmy’s escapades. Our letting agency made us believe it was our fault for leaving dry food out.

As a result, we all became clean freaks and constantly kept the kitchen tidy. The golden rule was that if you ate any food in your room all traces had to be gone by the next day. For a while, we genuinely believed Jimmy and his family was gone. We shut the doors of those three rooms and it was easy to pretend that Jimmy, Susan, Jimmy Junior and John had finally left the house.

Then Christmas rolled around and Jimmy literally laughed in our faces.

I opened the door after the Christmas holidays, to rat droppings. They were everywhere. All over the hallway and stairs. Weirdly enough, it was only the passageway. He hadn’t moved to the kitchen where all the food was, which only confirmed for me that Jimmy had been living in the house all along.

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Excuse my poor graphics but you get my drift.

That was also the night we saw Jimmy for the first time. My friend opened her bedroom door and let out a bloodcurdling scream. She claimed she saw Jimmy scampering up the stairs. She did say he had been eating well because he looked chunky, his bum shaking from side to side as he tried to get away very quickly. He closely resembled Theodore from Alvin and the Chipmunks. There was one big difference. Jimmy was definitely NOT as cute.

That night I wrote the angriest email I had ever written to our letting agency. I was fuming. I couldn’t understand why Jimmy had returned when we hadn’t been there for two whole weeks?! We had cleaned the house from top to bottom, hoovered, mopped and scrubbed every single room. It was no longer our fault. It was theirs and they needed to own up to it.

Although we joke about the situation now, it was actually very serious. Our letting agency violated so many health and safety laws by allowing us to stay there. We cried, screamed and ranted to them about our problems and in some instances, they were slow at responding. It did eventually get sorted but it took six months of constant arguing.

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It is actually a miracle our friendships managed to survive and that we all went on to live together in our final year. It's safe to say we learnt a lot about renting and properties through our experience. And although we were sad to finish second year, we were all ecstatic to finally be free of our contract. We waved goodbye to Jimmy and his family and didn't look back once we left.

If someone asked me what I would say to Jimmy if he could actually understand me, it would be something along the lines of "we're terribly sorry for moving into your house. It wasn't our fault. We didn't know."