The number of rats roaming around Windsor is apparently on the rise and for the first time in 30 years, city officials say residents will have to take money out of their own pockets to eliminate the problem.

Up until two months ago, if you found rats and their burrows in your home, the city would handle the issue free of charge. 

That's no longer the case, after council approved a user fee in the 2016 budget.

It’s a change that's causing much frustration among residents. 

“Fear and disgust," is how Melissa Muto describes her emotions after her husband found a dead rat in their daughters' kiddy pool.

"I'm scared to let my kids out," says Muto.

Muto claims two weeks later, there was another terrifying incident.

She says her two-year-old dog Claus found a rat under a sand box and killed it right in front of her Monday morning. 

"I took him right to the vet to make sure he was ok," she says.

She believes the rats are nesting in a city-owned alleyway near her home.

Muto doesn't seem to be the only person dealing with this issue.

A Windsor Home Hardware is reporting at least a 50 per cent increase in sales for rat traps and poison.

“The poisons inside, so the rats go in, it’s clear you can see them, they can't get out eats then poison then dies," says Cathy Bates.

Until two months ago, if burrows were found on your property, the city would pick up the tab to bait and remove the rodents.

The city says, it was one of only two municipalities in Ontario to do so.

Windsor's environment service manager says because the program wasn't being used often, the city initiated a user fee in the 2016 budget to save money.

Officials say less than one per cent of the population took advantage of the program when it was free.

As part of the new rodent control program, an inspector will visit your house and educate you on how to deter rats from your home, all free of charge.

But if you want the rats to be baited it will cost you $100, a charge officials say is cheaper then hiring a private company.

As for Muto, because she had no burrows on her property, she is ineligible for the program.

But if several residents in her area contact 311 and report a problem on a city owned alleyway, the city will eliminate the rodents for free.

Officials say the best way to deter rats from your house is to make sure your garbage is in a bin with a secure lid, make sure there is clear space between your landscaping and your home and make sure to fill any holes around the outskirts of your home that are larger than a quarter.