Pest controllers have been called in to one of the UK’s biggest eco-communities to tackle an infestation of rats that tenants say has left them scared to take their rubbish out.

Residents of Hackbridge’s BedZed estate, the country’s first zero-carbon housing development, have seen 10-inch rodents scurrying from under bins and along the bank of a nearby stream.

The furry critters are believed to be nesting near to the 82 homes, according to housing association Peabody Estates, which runs the site.

Elodie Ledent, 34, who lives on the estate, said: “I’m scared to take my bin out now, they jump out at you as you open the bins to throw the rubbish away.

“I have even taken my rubbish out to the bin in the street because the rats are not afraid to come close to you.

I first told Peabody about this problem with the rats in October and they have not done much since.”

She added: “I do think some of the blame has to be put on some people just leaving their rubbish out, it’s a shame because they don’t think about others who live here.”

BedZed tenant Marianne Rasmussen, 53, added: “It’s been a problem for some time now and they come near the homes. “When people are coming home at night you can hear them as they see rats run across the path.

“In some ways the unintended consequences of having the soakaways is that it makes a lovely home for them.

“But it is also Peabody’s failure to manage the problem and take action. There seems to be no incentive for them to do so.”

Peabody Estates said it was investigating the problem, which has also been reported to Sutton Council.

A spokesman added: “We’ve visited the site regularly with our pest control experts, and believe there could be nest sites near the river.

“We’ve been laying bait and are looking at what action we can take, such as moving compost bins or securing them in metal containers, to improve the situation.

“We’ll keep residents updated about how we are tackling the problem and our next steps.”

A Sutton Council spokesman said: “The council has received a complaint regarding rats in and around BedZed. “We have been liaising with the residents association and have contacted the Peabody Trust on their behalf about the matter.”

He added: “The responsibility for keeping land clear of rats or mice rests with the owner or occupier, not the council.

“However, the council will carry out enforcement action when necessary.”