THE number of disease-carrying vermin is on the rise, with Brent experiencing an explosion in its rat population.

Brent's pest controllers are reporting a staggering 18 per cent increase in the number of home visits to deal with the pests.

In the past three years there have been 5,816 infestations of rats in Brent treated, which is an increase from 42 per cent to 60 per cent of all pest-related calls.

The council fears the infestations could result in increased health risks for residents.

Wembley Central and areas in the south of the borough, including Harlesden, Willesden and Kilburn are the worst affected areas, according to the council.

The local authority is now blaming residents and businesses for not recy-cling and disposing of their rubbish properly.

Councillor James Powney (Labour), responsible for environment, planning and culture, said: "Rubbish sacks left at the side of bins or on top of open wheelie bins is like a nightly banquet for rats. The more glass, plastics and cardboard we recycle properly in containers provided, the more space will be available in wheelie bins, allowing lids to close and meaning there is less need to leave sacks on the pavements.

"It is also important to crush anything bulky, making more room in wheelie bins."

The National Pest Technicians Association says domestic waste is a major cause of rat infestations. Their research saw a 40 per cent increase in rodent infestations across London between 2008 and 2009 compared with the previous year. They say the problem is at least as bad as 10 years ago.

Councillor Powney added: "Modern lifestyles provide the fuel that vermin need in order to thrive in our cities. The most effective defence is to deprive them of food, waste and shelter.

"The council is increasing recycling and residents have a vital role to play by using these facilities properly as well as securing wheelie bins, outside taps and composters."

For information about recycling, visit or call Brent Council on 020 8937 5050. For pest control call 020 8937 5252.