PEST control inspectors were called in after a horrified woman saw rats scurrying around on land where children play.
Brenda Ingledew, 60, called the council after she spotted four of the vermin on an area of common land between Dalton Street and Carlton Street in Hartlepool.
Earlier the same day she saw another rat in a neighbour’s back yard.
She is now worried there could be more rats in the town centre area and claimed she is “scared” they could get into houses.
Mrs Ingledew, who lives in Carlton Street with her builder husband Fred, 61, said: “I saw four rats running about on the common.
“I’m absolutely distraught over it.
“I’m scared in case they get in my house.
“We need something urgent doing about this.
“Children play on the common land.
“My grandchildren always play down the back street when they come to visit but I can’t let them out there now.”
Mrs Ingledew, a mum of three and grandmother of seven, believes dog fouling and other rubbish left in the area by businesses and residents is to blame for attracting the rats.
Hartlepool Borough Council sent out a pest controller to investigate after Mrs Ingeldew reported the problem.
She previously found one in her kitchen when the council came out and put poison down.
“We have done a lot of things around the house to try and make sure they are prevented from getting in but they say they can get in anywhere.”
Local councillor Carl Richardson says he is doing everything he can to make sure the problem is dealt with after being made aware of the problem by Mrs Ingledew.
He said: “I am making sure the council eradicates the problem in that area and they are dealing with it now.
“It is scandalous that people have to put up with that.
“The problem seems to be emanating from some common land behind Carlton Street.
“We have got to sort it out one way or another.”
A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council said: “We can conform that we received a complaint from Mrs Ingledew about rats in the Carlton Street area.
“We sent a pest control officer out the same day to speak with Mrs Ingeldew and investigate.”