Family hopes to move out of rat infested home, fights lease

LAKE WORTH, Fla. - A Lake Worth family is fighting its landlord and property manager to get out of a lease after finding the home is infested by rats.

Ivette Diaz moved her family into the home at the end of April. From day one, she says it has been a nightmare.

First, Diaz heard scratching. Then, she said the smell of feces and dead rodents followed.

"It's outrageous that someone would think that's a safe, habitable home," said Diaz.

An exterminator at the home said the walls are "saturated with feces and urine. There are dead animals throughout the attic," the exterminator, Paul, said.

Diaz is now relying on neighbors and living out of her car.

Her 12-year-old daughter just had a five organ transplant. "Her health was exposed to this and could have had potentially fatal consequences," worried Diaz.

She also said her healthy son was taken to the emergency room when he started having symptoms from being exposed to the dirty conditions.

Diaz said she's spent at least $300 to clean the home and pay for exterminators that her property manager recommended.

She says she wants to be paid back, and reimbursed for her rent and deposits.

Property manager Monica Rice said she's tried to fix the problem. Diaz has fronted the bill.

After calling the exterminator that Rice has sent to the home, he tells a different story. On the phone, he said Rice only chose the cheapest options after being told more would need to be done.

Rice said she will work with the landlord to have problems resolved. Monday, she offered a prorated rent for May.

"We will agree to any effort to clean the house, whatever it takes to make it sanitary," said Rice.

Diaz says that's not enough. Exterminators say it could take weeks to resolve the problem.

Diaz says she is in talks with her lawyer to get out of her lease. Rice said she hopes to help resolve Diaz' problems.

Diaz says she waits to see that in writing. Until then, she plans to still look for a new home.

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