After numerous complaints from residents in the Fenway area, the city’s Inspectional Services Department discovered more than 100 rats and 50 ratholes around two properties, officials said Thursday.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who visited the buildings in Hemenway and Haviland streets, called the infestation “the worst conditions we’ve seen in many years.”
The rats are not just unsightly, Menino said, they pose serious health risks by spreading germs and possibly biting people.
“We don’t tolerate that in the city of Boston,” Menino said.
The rats are concentrated in a wide alley behind the two abutting properties. Burrows could be seen there this afternoon dotting the pavement and swaths of mulch.
John Meaney, the city’s director of environmental services, said the city first became aware of the problem when inspectors noticed rats scurrying in and out of both ends of the alley.
The inspection department also received complaints from residents.
“Geographically, it’s so small here that they’re spanning out into the neighborhood,” Meaney said.
Meaney said he was astonished when he visited the alley Wednesday night and saw dozens of rats running in and out of the burrows in packs, fighting, climbing into trash cans, and crawling over his shoes.
“They’ve got control of these two pieces of property like you wouldn’t believe,” Meaney said.
Meaney said inspectors have not yet determined if the rats have compromised the building’s foundation. Owners of both properties were served abatements ordering them to take action to rid the area of rats. If they don’t respond, Meaney said, they may be fined as much as $350 per day.
The buildings at 26 Hemenway St. and 24 Haviland St., in an area heavily populated with students, are owned by Fenway Residential Property and Boston Properties Management, respectively.
A woman who answered the phone at Fenway Residential Property this afternoon said the company had no comment. Messages seeking comment from Boston Properties Management were not immediately returned.